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‘Heartstopper trans representation is saving lives,’ MP says at UK parliamentary debate on trans conversion therapy ban

By Ada Pelonia Published Jun 15, 2022 1:47 pm

A member of the UK parliament praised Heartstopper’s trans representation for “inspiring” young people and “saving lives” during a debate on including trans people in its legislative ban on conversion therapy Tuesday, June 14. 

In his remarks, Luke Pollard, Labour and Co-operative MP, gave a shoutout to Yasmin Finney, the trans actress who played Elle in Netflix’s Heartstopper. 

“[F]or me, it’s Yasmin Finney, who plays Elle in the show, who is not only epic in her acting but the class of visibility of hers as a trans actor and her transfer to Doctor Who universe has not only inspired me, it’s inspired young trans people across the world and it has saved lives,” Pollard said. 

The petition for the inclusion of trans people in the conversion therapy ban came after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson proceeded with the legislation to ban the said therapy, but only for gay and bisexual people.

Conversion therapy is a harmful practice aimed at LGBTQ+ people to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. This method has been rejected by mainstream medical and mental health organization due as it discriminates against LGBTQ+ individuals and can lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, and suicide.

Let’s make sure that we say to young LGBT people, trans and nonbinary that they are enough, and we listen to them and we value them.

The exclusion of trans people got the ire of LGBTQ+ activists and led to the petition “on including trans people in its restrictions on ‘conversion therapy’,” which got more than 140,000 signatures, reaching the threshold required for consideration in a parliamentary debate. 

In the debate, Pollard also commended Alice Oseman, the illustrator and screenwriter of Heartstopper, for creating a world where diversity is celebrated and not excluded and where people are being “drawn together by a broad hug” and not “with a big stick” that everyone in the debate should be aiming for in the legislation.

“It is precisely because of that that I think I would like every single member in this place to know that the message should go out to young LGBT people that regardless of who you are and who you love, you have the right to be loved, you have the right to be safe, and you have the right to be valued not just by society but in the law as well,” the Labour MP said, further emphasizing that what he stated was the “heart” of what they were debating. 

“Let’s make sure that we say to young LGBT people, trans and nonbinary that they are enough, and we listen to them and we value them,” Pollard added. 

In another tweet, Pollard mentioned that he received messages after his speech during the parliamentary debate got viral, stating that “it is clear to me that the show means a huge amount to so many people [...] I’ve read messages from people telling me it saved their life. Literally. Visibility and equality matters.” 

Heartstopper received a 100% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes and had been renewed for two more seasons.