Emmerdale’s first trans wedding sends ‘beautiful’ message, says star

There are a lot of “iconic story arcs” soap actors want to do, Emmerdale’s Ash Palmisciano has said. And for him, seeing his trans character Matty Barton get married had been on his “bucket list” for ages.

It’s also a “beautiful” reminder to trans youth that there is hope and love in their future, the transgender star tells PinkNews in an exclusive interview ahead of the episode airing on Wednesday (17 April).

Palmisciano, who has played Matty Barton on the ITV soap since 2018, has been at the forefront of trans-led storylines. He’s portrayed the character’s coming out saga, combatted an anti-trans backlash and even found love with Amy Wyatt. 

This has all culminated in Emmerdale’s first trans wedding as Matty and Amy, played by Natalie Ann Jamieson, tie the knot in an upcoming episode. 

For Palmisciano, the wedding is an “iconic” moment that he’s wanted to do as an actor. It’s similar to quintessential soap opera storylines where a character might “push someone off a cliff” or “find out someone’s your mum who you didn’t realise was your mum”, he said.

“It was so exciting,” he told PinkNews about shooting the wedding scenes. “I’ve never been that busy.”

Palmisciano practised Matty’s vows the night before with his girlfriend to add “real emotion” because he “felt a weight to get this right”. 

Amy and Matty are finally tying the knot in Emmerdale‘s first wedding featuring an out trans man. (ITV/Mark Bruce)

He went on to say: “I was proud of that because of the importance of it, because of historically what it means. I wanted to make sure it was one of the best performances I’ve ever done.” 

When he delivered the vows, people were crying, and he was emotional because he knew the significance of being part of such a landmark moment.

“It’s not easy to get married as a trans person. There are many hoops you have to jump through in terms of your paperwork and how hard that is,” he said. 

“We got to play a story where someone in the village isn’t OK with them getting married at the church hall, because [Matty is] trans.

“That was cool to show the stuff trans people are subjected to, that they can’t marry the people they love… That was an emotive thought to play. 

“It was so great, and I felt like I’d been married by the end of the day.”

Palmisciano also felt it had been great to show the progression of Matty’s relationship with Amy over the years, from being friends before his transition, reconnecting later in life and finding love with each other. 

Navigating romance as a transgender person can be overwhelming given the challenges of intimacy, complexities around gender dysphoria and transphobia, on top of the current anti-trans climate in political and cultural spheres. 

There’s very little representation of healthy trans relationships in the media and when trans people don’t see someone like themself being loved, it can be easy to believe that having a fulfilling and healthy romantic relationship isn’t possible. 

It’s why Emmerdale featuring an out trans character finding love and getting married was truly a “cool” milestone, Palmisciano said. The story showed trans people that they “can do it” and that they “are enough”. 

It’s a message he hopes especially rings true for young trans viewers who might be worried about what their future holds in terms of meeting someone. 

“[My message] is that it’s so simple, that you are your most beautiful self when you’re authentic and you’re real, and you will attract the right person for you when you get to that place,” he said. 

“I think we often chase people [who] aren’t good for us because we think that’s who we need to be with, and I certainly learned a few lessons from that. Ultimately, you will always find love when you are yourself because it is so beautiful. 

“I think it’s a difficult one because of the attitudes towards trans people that kind of plays into that mind set, but just know that you will meet someone, and you’re more than good enough.”

Ash Palmisciano hopes young trans viewers will see the wedding episode and know they will find love one day. (ITV/Mark Bruce)

The star, who was the first trans actor to appear on stage at the Royal Shakespeare Company, acknowledged it’s “difficult being trans” at the moment, and it can be easy to get “swamped down” by the negative remarks about the transgender community. 

He’s experienced problems being an out trans person, and sometimes transform those moments into comedy videos on TikTok, using humour to take the “power out of any negative transphobia”. 

But, he wanted to remind trans youth that “anything is possible”. He hopes his story and experiences will show others that they too can live their dreams. 

“You can become who you need to be and you can have the life you deserve,” he said. 

“You’ve just got to make sure you surround yourself with really good eggs. And on those days when you’re struggling, make sure you reach out to them because that’s where you’ll find your hope, your confidence and the sunshine to keep going.”

Emmerdale continues tonight at 7.30pm on ITV.

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