Why transgender actress Rebecca Root’s breakthrough could have happened 12 years ago

The Boy Meets Girl actress was cast as a trans woman in Casualty in 2003 but was "devastated" when her role was scrapped by show bosses

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Transgender actress Rebecca Root, the star of new BBC2 sitcom Boy Meets Girl, has revealed she was offered a headline role in Casualty 12 years ago, playing a trans woman who wanted a child with her male partner. But her big break never made it to screen after show bosses took the decision to rewrite the part to feature an infertile woman instead.

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In an interview in the new issue of Radio Times, the actress says that she was “devastated’ after her 2003 storyline was scrapped. Sherlock’s Louise Brealey was to play her character’s surrogate mother and two of the four episodes had been filmed before Casualty executives broke the news about the switch. “I’d hoped it would be my breakthrough,” she says. “The producers promised they’d make it up to me. Well, I’m still waiting!”

Now, playing the role of 40-year-old trans woman Judy who dates younger man Leo (Misfits’ Harry Hepple), Root’s career finally looks set to take off. She also tells Radio Times that she’s just filmed a part in the new Eddie Redmayne film The Danish Girl and says the Oscar winner is “a very genuine, sincere, honest, truthful actor. He’s a lovely, lovely person and always makes time for you and connects with you. And he looked beautiful. Really beautiful.”

But while she sings Redmayne’s praises in his role as Lili Elbe, a 1920s artist’s model who becomes one of the first people to have gender reassignment surgery, Root says that this may well be the “last big, high-profile trans part” to be played by a cisgender [someone whose gender identity conforms with the sex they are assigned at birth] actor. “Now there are more trans people coming through the ranks, it’s only fair we get the opportunity to play those parts.”

Read the full interview with Rebecca Root in the latest issue of Radio Times, on sale from Tuesday 25th August


Interested in hearing more from Rebecca Root?

She will be speaking at the Radio Times festival Transgender Trailblazers event this September.

“The fight for transgender equality hit newspaper front pages in 2014, when boxing promoter Kellie Maloney announced that she was undergoing gender realignment surgery. This year, Rebecca Root will break new ground by becoming the first transgender sitcom lead in BBC comedy Boy Meets Girl. Here, Kellie will discuss her new book, Frankly Kellie: Becoming a Woman in a Man’s World, as both women talk about busting societal taboos and adjusting to their new lives.”

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