Hollyoaks star Tylan Grant reveals character’s name change following off-screen transition

Hollyoaks star Tylan Grant announced his own transition earlier this year. (Instagram)

Hollyoaks star Tylan Grant has revealed their character’s new name as the Channel 4 soap prepares for a trans coming out storyline to reflect the actor’s off-screen transition.

In scenes due to air next month, Grant’s character will come out as a trans man and share their new name, Phoenix Hathaway, with their close friend Charlie Dean (Charlie Behan).

21-year-old Tylan, who is the son of TV stars David and Carrie Grant, has played the role of Phoenix on Hollyoaks since 2018. The character previously came out as non-binary in 2021 after Grant came out as non-binary, and will now come out as a trans man after Grant transitioned earlier this year.

Phoenix joins a growing number of trans, non-binary and genderqueer soap characters including Neighbours‘ Mackenzie Hargreaves (Georgia Stone), Emmerdale‘s Matty Barton (Ash Palmisciano) and fellow Hollyoaks resident Ripley Lennox (Ki Griffin) who played Brooke’s former partner.

In an exclusive interview with Digital Spy, Grant spoke about his personal connection with his character, the value of positive trans representation and Hollyoaks‘ sensitive approach to Phoenix’s gender journey as the character’s family members Darren (Ashley Taylor Dawson) and Jack Osborne (Jimmy McKenna) learn of their trans identity.

“[Phoenix’s story] is super important right now,” the soap star explained. “I’m grateful to be around people who want to get it right. It’s a big blessing to cover it.”

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Grant continued: “I hope people enjoy the story and will learn something from it, especially with Charlie’s reaction and the rest of the Osborne family. It’s very daunting and not an easy thing to realise who you are and then announce who you are, whether that’s in a big proximity or a small one.

“The responses we see from the characters are something to really look up to. I’m really proud of what’s been done and I’m excited for Phoenix’s future.”

The name Phoenix felt fitting for the character and their arc, according to Grant. “I think the name Phoenix aligns pretty well with the transformation my character is going through, like a phoenix rising through the ashes,” he said.

In April this year, Grant shared that he had undergone top surgery in a joyous Instagram post celebrating his “euphoria and liberation”.

“Everyone I’m working with has been super supportive and understanding,” Grant admitted. “It also felt like the natural progression for Phoenix to discover this revelation about himself and to come to terms with who he is.

“It felt very right for this to be the moment where he realises this thing about himself and I think it’s very beautiful. I’m very glad that it’s happening.”

Grant noted that the Hollyoaks team ensured he was included in crafting Phoenix’s ongoing storyline in a bid to make his journey as a trans man “as realistic as possible”.

He explained: “Of course experiences vary, especially with something so personal, but they wanted to make sure they were getting information from someone who had experienced something similar.

“They wanted to make sure it was real, that I felt seen, and that I felt it was hitting the right marks and making the right points.”

Trans rights in the UK continue to come under attack in areas such as self-identification, gender neutral bathrooms and support in schools for gender non-conforming youth. As such, positive trans stories on screen are all the more important, with Grant himself stating that the current climate is “very scary to live in for a lot of trans people”.

“It’s a lovely thought to believe that you come out and suddenly everyone is using your correct pronouns and seeing you for who you are, but that’s not always life,” he stated. “There are ups and downs, especially when you are in this very changing period. I wouldn’t put it past Phoenix to have some challenges arise and to have to deal with those,” he added.

“But having this positive representation is very refreshing and needed right now. I’m happy that it is happy at the moment. Of course, life isn’t always like that but it’s a nice breath of fresh air. But who knows what’s to come?”

Hollyoaks airs Monday to Friday at 6.30pm on Channel 4 in the UK.

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