Hollyoaks actress Annie Wallace has revealed she only decided to come out as trans to her friends on her 50th birthday – 26 years after she transitioned.
“A third of my friends kind of knew but didn’t say anything, a third of them kind of suspected and a third of them had no idea,” Wallace told BBC Radio Merseyside.
She added: “I thought if people pick up on [the fact] that I’m trans and if they want to have the conversation, I’ll have the conversation with them, but I’d rather not as it’s not the most important thing about who I am.”
Wallace was in the midst of auditioning for various roles when she decided it was time to “embrace who I am and do it publicly” after transitioning aged 24. She said that a lot has changed in the decades since her transition.
“It was a long time ago and culturally and socially, the position of trans people was very different,” she said.
“Although we are in this strange turnaround at the moment, where trans people are once again getting stared at.
“Being a trans person back then was pretty lonely and the sense of isolation was pretty overwhelming, so to look forward to [being cast] in Hollyoaks in 2015 would have been literally la la land.”
Wallace became the first trans actor in a regular trans role on a British TV soap in 2015, when she was cast in the Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks as Sally St. Claire.
Hollyoaks has since introduced a non-binary actor, Ki Griffin, who plays non-binary character Ripley Lennox.
Wallace’s experiences also helped to create the out trans character Hayley Cropper on Coronation Street, another British soap, who was played by cis actress Julie Hesmondhalgh. Cropper was on British TV screens between 1998 and 2014.