Heartstopper star Yasmin Finney says online abuse makes every day ‘a life or death situation’

Yasmin Finney

Heartstopper star Yasmin Finney has opened up about the “really scary” death threats she’s received in the wake of the show’s monumental success.

Finney, aged just 19, has gained a devoted fan base following her breakout role as Elle Argent in Netflix’s smash hit series about a budding romance between two teenage schoolboys. However, as an openly trans teen, she’s also received her fair share of online abuse.

Speaking to Teen Vogue, Finney expressed her fears about how “every day” has become a “life or death situation”.

“Even now, the popularity that’s come with the show also comes with a lot of danger,” she said.

“People see Heartstopper and they’re like, ‘Oh, I didn’t like that.’ I’ve got to be even more safe now, because not only do I have the pressure of the community, but I’ve also got people following me on private accounts sending death threats.”

Finney is overjoyed to be a “Black trans girl living my life authentically” and providing much-need representation for young trans people. For older trans people, too: she explained that she frequently receives messages from people in their 30s and 40s who say her portrayal of Elle helped them to come out.

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Beyond her role on Heartstopper, Finney is set to reach millions in the upcoming series of Doctor Who in which she plays a groundbreaking trans character, Rose.

Yet she’s acutely aware that mainstream visibility is a double-edged sword.

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“It does come with a lot of pressure,” she shared. “It does come with all of the technical stuff: Always making sure that I’m safe, always making sure that I’m surrounded with the right people, and always making sure that I’ve got my head held high in any situation, whether that’s being misgendered on set or being misgendered in my real life.”

As vitriol against trans people increases both in the US and the UK, Finney expertly explained why she wants her status as a role model to extend beyond the TV screen, too.

“[Heartstopper] is just one show. We need so many more,” she continued. “If we look at the world itself, how we keep going backwards and forwards, how trans people are always used as a political football in everybody’s debate, when in reality there are so [many] other things that the government needs to be focusing on, but instead they’re focusing on our genitals.

“It’s all well and [good for] having Heartstopper, but what good is it if we don’t have this as a reality?”

Finney is one of numerous trans actresses currently making waves on and off screen, alongside stars like Euphoria’s Hunter Schafer and The Idol’s Hari Nef.

Her debut appearance on Doctor Who, expected later this year, will see both her career and trans visibility ascend to new heights. She knows it, too, having previously teased that it will “change the world”.

“My job isn’t over yet. This is just the beginning,” she told Teen Vogue. “There’s so much more I want to do, so many stories that need to be told.”

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