Spoiler Alert: This article will discuss the plot of the first season of Heartstopper and the show’s trans representation.

Heartstopper is a British coming of age, romantic comedy television series. It is created and written by Alice Oseman who based the series on her graphic novel Heartstopper. The first season was released in April 2022, with a second season premiering this August. The TV series follows the story of Charlie, a gay teenager, as he navigates high school and his first queer relationship.

Trans representation in Heartstopper

Heartstopper does an incredible job at portraying an innocent, yet heart-warming queer storyline through its protagonists. However, the series also foregrounds lesbian and transgender characters. Elle, played by Yasmin Finney is a trans girl who recently transferred to a new school. The first time we hear of Elle is through the other characters. While her trans identity is discussed right away, it is only done so to explain her transfer and to highlight how much her friends miss her. Her trans identity does not define her.

While she is initially quite lonely, she soon befriends ‘the school lesbians’. Elle is the most supportive friend in the show. This applies to all characters in Heartstopper, but in particular to Charlie. She also constantly encourages Tao to keep appreciating his friendship with Charlie. Although faced with her former transphobic bullies, Elle knowingly shows up in support of Charlie’s rugby match, showcasing her genuine kindness and care for her friends.

Trans people deserve love

Half way through the show, I was worried that Elle’s character was simply an updated version of the ‘gay best friend’, the ‘trans best friend’. Someone who is always supportive of the main character but never gets to shine or be their own person aside from their friendship to the protagonists. However, Heartstopper subverts this narrative by allowing her to fall in love and have a romantic interest and storyline that is usually reserved for the protagonist.

Heartstopper sends the message that trans people are allowed to fall in love and be loved. That they too experience all the wide range of emotions we all do. While Tao and Elle’s romance is only blooming, we all hope to see more of them in the upcoming season.

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Yasmin Finney at a play in London earlier this year. During our brief interaction, she explained how passionate she was about making entertainment, whether that is through theatre, television or literature, for, about and by the transgender community. Her passion clearly drives her work.

In an interview with PinkNews, Finney expressed how ‘blessed’ she was to be playing such an important character, adding to the trans representation on screen. It is vital trans actors get to play trans roles, creating more nuanced and accurate representations of LGBTQ+ people. Finney stated how rare it is that trans storylines do not focus on ‘gender dysphoria, or depression, or bullying, but just the positive – the friendship, the chosen family’. Trans joy is just as important as hardship. In an Instagram post, Yasmin Finney explained that the character of Elle changed her life and inspired her to be her ‘most authentic self’.

The Heartstopper community donated to our Fund for trans youth!

We are delighted to share that Alice Oseman, writer and creator of Heartstopper, donated over £1,000 to The Fund for trans people, on behalf of the entire Heartstopper community. Their contribution will help trans people access gender affirming healthcare. We sincerely thank you for your donation. The GenderGP Fund was created to help trans people who cannot afford private care. Our goal is to remove the financial barrier that keeps many from accessing life-saving care.

Season one of Heartstopper is available now on Netflix. Make sure to binge it if you haven’t already so that you can be all caught up for season two, premiering August 3rd on Netflix.


Note: The GenderGP Fund has been temporarily paused as we review additional methods to better serve the transgender and non-binary community.