EastEnders star reveals he used Beyonce to tell his parents he was transgender
Published 28/06/2016 | 09:02
EastEnders star Riley Carter Millington has praised the show's fans for the "overwhelmingly positive" reception they have given him but admits he struggled with his identity as a youngster.
The 22-year-old, who has played Kyle Slater since 2015, became the first transgender actor to play a transgender character in the BBC One soap.
However, he admits that he struggled to be honest with his parents about his identity when he realised he wanted to change gender.
"I tried to drop hints by playing Beyonce's If I Were A Boy from my bedroom," he told the Radio Times.
"Then I was in a clothes shop with my mum and was buying a man's t-shirt and I just decided to come out with it then and there."
Millington, who now resides in Hertfordshire, said his own family have been "very supportive" to him.
"Obviously, they were surprised - not as much was known about transgender issues six years ago."
The actor told the magazine that the process of transitioning is "slow and can be frustrating".
He recalled problems he had getting repeat prescriptions and syringes for his hormones when he was based in the north because it meant trips down to London.
Millington added: "But it's worth doing right because this is for life."
He also spoke about how his life has changed since signing on for the long-running series.
He said: "It's weird to have people following me around in shops!"
The Manchester-born actor also described how his high profile role is increasing understanding.
Millington said he received a letter from a "trans guy" who had been disowned by his mother, but they are now reconciling because she had seen a similar storyline with Kyle in EastEnders.
In the soap, former Coronation Street star and Loose Women panellist Denise Welch played Alison Slater, Kyle's mother.
Alison was depicted as having difficulty accepting that the daughter she gave birth to has transitioned into a man.
Kyle was born Sarah Slater, but struggled to live as the person he always felt he was inside.
In the Walford-set soap, Kyle has an accepting half-sister in Stacey Fowler, played by Lacey Turner.
So far, many of his storylines have revolved around their family connections.
"I'm very happy on EastEnders and Kyle's story has a lot to give," Millington said.
"People think gender is the same as sexuality - they've been asking if Kyle is going to get with Ben Mitchell (played by Harry Reid) - but Kyle's not gay.
"It would be interesting to see him dating girls."
Transgender actors are beginning to make an impact on television, with Rebecca Root in comedy Boy Meets Girl and Hollyoaks' Annie Wallace also leading the way.