Mat Stevenson adopting trans teen shows what parenting means – love and support

Amid tumultuous times for everyone, positive news is a welcome distraction. 

As I was scrolling through social media this week I stumbled upon an article where Home and Away star Mat Stevenson was shown adopting a young trans woman named Belle – a close friend of his own daughter, Grace, who is also trans – after she had been reportedly disowned by her own father. 

Sadly a lot of LGBT+ people get disowned by their families simply for being themselves. It leaves people in the heartbreaking situation of being true to who they are at the expense of losing their relatives.

This isn’t a situation anybody should be placed in, and it’s incredibly sad to see that people aren’t able to put away their own prejudices and love their children for who they are.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have the full support of my family, and it has meant the world to me. If I hadn’t had their backing when I came out, I would have been on my own at only 18 years old. This would have left me unable to continue school and go to university, and I would have struggled to keep myself afloat.

Medically transitioning also comes with its share of costs, such as paying for hair removal, medicine, admin costs for changes to ID and renewing your wardrobe. Without my parents’ help, I couldn’t have done it.

It’s therefore very heartwarming to see someone like Mat Stevenson not only support his own daughter who is trans, but also someone else who desperately needs it.

According to research in the UK, one of the major factors for homelessness among LGBT+ youth – who make up up to 24% of the entire homelessness population – is family rejection. And Stonewall’s Trans Report shows up to 25% of trans people have been homeless at some point. 

I hope that both cis and trans members of society recognise and see the kindness of what Stevenson has done, and that it encourages parents to be accepting and loving of their own children

It’s incredibly important that young transgender people have family support. Seeing public figures like Stevenson do it so openly makes a whole lot of difference, as sometimes people need to see others stand by their trans kids in order to realise they can do so too.

This was the case for my partner’s parents, who were finally able to let go of their own grievances once they saw others support them in their identity and transition.

Today they are our biggest supporters and show up to events we host, participate in protests and actively support us in what we do and who we are. 

But thankfully, it’s not only famous soap actors that are showing their support publicly, but more and more soap operas and TV shows are showcasing positive and impactful storylines that include transgender people.

This includes programmes such as Orange is the New Black, Pose, Butterfly, Hollyoaks, EastEnders and Emmerdale. Both Hollyoaks and Emmerdale currently have ongoing storylines and characters that are transgender, the first being headteacher Sally St. Claire, portrayed by Annie Wallace and the second being Matty Barton, played by Ash Palmisciano. 

These characters have made a huge difference, and allowed their audiences to learn about transgender people in a positive, informative and open way. In fact, both Wallace’s and Palmisciano’s characters were listed among the 50 most groundbreaking soap characters by Digital Spy in 2021. 

It’s a remarkable difference to just a decade ago, when transgender representation was few and far in between – and often portrayed in a negative or aggressive way. Sadly this is still the case even today. But regardless, these types of characters help raise awareness of the experiences of transgender people and helps the general population connect to them as other human beings. 

As transgender visibility grows, so does discrimination and prejudice. In the UK, reports of hate crimes against transgender people have quadrupled between 2015-2020, leaving many feeling more unsafe than ever before.

At the same time, trans people are also seeing positive changes and are able to live their lives more openly than before, as well as being able to come out younger and start living life as themselves. 

I hope that both cis and trans members of society recognise and see the kindness of what Stevenson has done, and that it encourages parents to be accepting and loving of their own children.

We never know if our kids might turn out to be LGBT+, and instead of condemning them we should be celebrating them. Only then can we create a world where everyone can enjoy their life to the fullest, without limitation.  

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