Trans Emmerdale star Ash Palmisciano targeted with ‘horrific language’ and ‘disturbing threats’

Emmerdale star and out trans actor Ash Palmisciano wears a white shirt and blue button up over it as he stares towards the camera

Ash Palmisciano has opened up about the cruel trolling and abuse he has faced as a transgender actor on ITV soap Emmerdale.

Palmisciano plays Matty Barton, who is currently behind bars after accidentally stabbing Samson Dingle during a transphobic row.

Despite receiving abuse for his role, Palmisciano is “proud to be trans and to play Emmerdale‘s first ever trans character”.

The star told the Sunday Mirror: “Like Matty, I’ve experienced trolling. I’ve heard horrific language and had disturbing threats. I’ve been called things like ‘that t****ie from Emmerdale‘.

“One time, a guy had clearly had a lot of alcohol, he was angry and aggressive and came up to my face and told me: ‘No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be a man’.”

Although he has had to face lots of transphobic comments, Palmisciano has found the public also relate to him and his character. “I was shocked by how many people wanted to talk and share their own experiences,” he said. “I keep one letter in my bag that’s so touching about the difference the character made to someone, and to their family.

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“When I was growing up, there was nobody on TV I could relate to so I hope I can, in a small way, show you can grow up and have a good job, a lovely family and a great relationship.”

Palmisciano revealed that it was his mum who taught him about resilience and staying positive. “Humour gets me through… I have to make sure the negative comments don’t seep in.”

And he believes that some people “don’t mean to be transphobic” but that it’s partly down to “the lack of education on being trans”.

Palmisciano transitioned 12 years ago with the full support of his family. He has been with girlfriend Shea for two years. He has been playing Matty since 2018, after attending a summer school run by the trans charity Gendered Intelligence.

That led to the show asking him to consult on a trans storyline and later an audition for the role of Matty.

The current storyline has Matty facing being trans in prison. “Going to jail would be terrible for anyone,” the star said. “As a trans person, it’s even scarier. Matty is terrified.

“I’m positive about the role, I hope it’s the start of more trans people being represented on TV.”

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