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South African TV soap introduces transgender character

Nick Duffy April 20, 2017

An actress appearing on a South African soap opera has hit back at attacks.

Transgender school teacher Deonay Balie, who is not a trained actress, made her debut on Afrikaans soap 7de Laan this week as character Genevieve du Pre.

It is the first time a transgender character has appeared on the South African Broadcasting Corporation show.

The reaction to the character was mixed, with fans flocking to the show’s Facebook page to attack the “sick” character. However, Ms Balie is focused on her performance.

Speaking to Times Live, she said: “It feels awesome as well as liberating. I have always believed God has a greater purpose for my life. I am an activist for LGBTI rights so it is a privilege to represent this community.

“I’m in my 3rd-year education studies at Unisa and I have been teaching at this school while I am studying.

“7de Laan contacted me via Facebook to audition for the role and within an hour I got a call that I got the part.”

“I really think viewers will fall in love with her [Genevieve] and her journey.

“She is determined to win and did not come for fun or games, she gives me life!”

The LGBT Triangle Project said: “[We are] proud of Deonay Balie on her debut on 7de Laan tonight.

“Well done Deonay ~ an amazing teacher from a small town in the Northern Cape where Triangle have started work.

“Deonay has lived openly as a transgender woman where it would be easier to be invisible and now she is playing a trans woman on one of the country’s popular soaps.”

In the UK, transgender character recently joined TV soaps Hollyoaks and EastEnders.

The trans character in Eastenders was the first to be played by a trans actor, but he left the show some months later.

Earlier this year it was revealed that a groundbreaking trans character in Coronation Street was originally cast “as a joke”.

Hollyoaks star Ross Adams in 2016 defended camp gay characters on TV, saying they have become lost among more ‘straight-acting’ alternatives.

More: actress, LGBT, South Africa, Television, Trans, Transgender

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