Pedro Pascal, Lux Pascal, And Why Trans Visibility Has Never Been More Critical

Pedro Pascal and Lux Pascal pose for photos before the 2024 Emmy Awards
Pedro Pascal and Lux Pascal pose for photos before the 2024 Emmy Awards

At the Emmy Awards last week there was a lot of coverage focussing on Pedro Pascal. Not because the star of The Madalorian and The Last Of Us is one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, or because he had his arm in a sling. It was because he turned up with his very beautiful sister Lux Pascal as his plus one. 

Now actors turn up to awards and premiers with family members all the time, so in itself this is nothing newsworthy. What made it special was that Lux is trans. And so Pedro was showing his allyship in the most public way possible. 

Now Pedro Pascal isn’t new to trans allyship. He’s been talking about Lux for some time. He first posted a picture of her on his Instagram back in February 2021 with the caption "Mi hermana, mi corazón, nuestra Lux," which translates to, “my sister, my heart, our Lux.” shortly after Lux came out as trans with a cover feature in Ya Magazine, a Spanish language publication.  

However, on social media this time there was a backlash. Of course some cis people were not happy. That’s no surprise. The last thing those who call for trans oppression want is for popular cisgendered celebrities to come out as allies, because that normalises trans people, and normalises allyship. But this was different. Because there were quite a few in the trans community who were also critical. 

So it struck me that we needed to examine this, and put our case as to why visibility now is critical. And why the whole trans community needs to get on board. 

Why Are People Attacking Pedro Pascal

First off it’s important to state why some trans people were angry about this. It stemmed largely from people objecting to Lux being called his trans sister. “Why” they said “does she have to be labelled his ‘trans’ sister? Why not call her his actress sister, or just his sister. We’re more than just our gender identity and people need to talk about more than just that.”

And yes they’re completely right. We are more than just our gender. Of course we are. Reducing us down to just gender labels is dangerous and takes away so much of who we are and leaves just the what. 

So in normal circumstances I’d agree 100%. After all, if trans women are women and trans men are men, then surely constantly labelling us as trans flies in the face of that statement. It sets us apart. It ‘others’ us when most of us just want to blend in. 

The problem is, of course, that these are not normal circumstances. Trans people, and trans women in particular, have been under increasing attack from gender critical organisations and people for around seven years. The attacks have been getting more and more aggressive, and have broadened as mainly US religious fundamentalist groups have poured money into those organisations that oppose us. 

We have also become the target of right wing political parties across the world, with their relentless culture wars validating hate and prompting waves of anti-trans (and anti LGBTQ+) legislation. And the incessant lies, propaganda and misrepresentation of trans lives in the media is changing opinion against us as we are demonised by countless writers, who are given platforms to author unevidenced and unchallenged articles. 

In short, we’re at war. For anyone outside of the trans community that sounds incredibly overdramatic and self indulgent. But for anyone within it, it will be a rational statement. 

The battleground is the media, both social and traditional, and what we’re fighting for is public opinion to swing in our favour, to force politicians to stop targeting us and abandon their transphobic policies or lose the support of the electorate. To make transphobia culturally unacceptable. 

In any war those fighting have to accept that normal life simply cannot go on as before. Likes and wants have to be put aside, while needs dictate how we must behave. 

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Why Is Trans Visibility So Important

To grasp the seriousness of the situation and why this seemingly drastic course of action is being proposed you need to understand how high the stakes are. This generation of trans people is the first to emerge from the netherworld we had been consigned to at the edge of society and find acceptance and some glimpses of equality. 

Unless you’ve experienced it you cannot possibly understand how it feels to have no rights, to be legally discriminated against and have no opportunity to live a normal life in your true gender. In the UK, up to the Gender Recognition Act in 2004, but more substantively the GRA 2010, there was next to no trans visibility, no rights and no acceptance. We were treated like pariahs and paraded like circus animals. When you saw trans women on TV in the 1990s or even early 2000s they were the villains, the butt of the joke or portrayed as dangerously unstable. We had no positive role models. No visible pathways to success. 

We had two choices, live authentically on the very edges of society and expect to live a life with no rights or opportunities or live a lie in the gender we were assigned at birth. Passing completely in our authentic gender was the only hope for any kind of normal life. 

So that glimpse of equality we had around 2010-15 gave people so much hope, that when it was so abruptly challenged and pushed back it left many people staring back into the abyss.

So we have to win. To lose is unthinkable. We’re already seeing trans people being criminalised in Republican US States for being who they are. When we started this battle for equality we were hoping to leap the short distance to full equality, we’re now trying to make up the huge amount of ground we’ve lost suddenly.

It’s unlikely that things will happen quickly. Change will happen slowly and those who really benefit will be the current teenaged trans community and those who come after it. And it’s incredibly sad that the current trans youth ware having to encounter so much hate directed at them.  

Where Does Trans Visibility Fit

The question is, how to we achieve our goals. Well there are several strategies that we have to employ. First is to create effective lobby groups to bring pressure on politicians and set out our position and pathways to achieve our legal goals. Second is protest, to show the strength of feeling and the breadth of our support. But the final strategy, to win hearts and minds of the public we must have visibility. 

We must normalise trans lives in every way possible, which means that those of us who are in a position to must, for the sake of the community, abandon our hope to pass under the radar, and stand up to show ourselves. Trans people doing ordinary jobs shows everyone that we’re no different to them. Trans people achieving things shows that we can contribute just as much as any other section of the community. And trans people who are hugely successful are critical for the young generation to see a path to success in their chosen field. To allow them to see themselves reflected and see that coming out and achieving are not mutually exclusive. Lux Pascal understands this. 

Lux Pascal Is An Amazing Role Model

The 31-year old model and actress sees that she can be a role model, for a whole generation. And knows also that her status is even more important in her native Chile and many other South America nations, where acceptance of trans people is decades behind the US and UK.

Her coming out article in Ya Magazine showed her strength. She had previously identified as a gay man and then as non-binary before confirming that she had begun hormone replacement in July 2020. “Moving through the world as a woman is much more simple for me,” she said. “But I still advocate for non-binary identities to have a space in society." 

"We need trans activists who are good, smart, informed and who can be strong voices against transphobia, homophobia and racism," she said.

Lux Pascal on the cover of Ya Magazine where she came out as trans
Lux Pascal on the cover of Ya Magazine where she came out as trans

We Must Never Miss Positive Trans Stories

Some trans people have suggested that everyone knew Lux is trans and so restating that is unnecessary. But in fact most cisgendered people don’t know. And we must take every single opportunity to create positive news stories, raise the profile of successful trans people and praise and showcase great allyship when we see it. 

Rowan Jetté Knox made a great point in his Thread post on allyship. We need to stop judging allyship so harshly and look for intent rather than perfection. Attacking allies for not giving us unconditional support, or getting it wrong occasionally is guaranteed to alienate them.

I can understand that many in our community don’t want to have to be visible. To give up that desire to just blend. We have adopted a siege mentality. We’ve been under attack since 2016 and it’s easy to get sucked into a doom bubble. To allow attacks on us to dominate our thoughts. To start associating only with others experiencing the same trauma. And slowly our transness becomes such a huge part of our identity that all the other wonderful things that we are seem to shrink away. 

It scares people, makes them want to not be seen and certainly not be prominently visible. 

There’s a reason our enemies dogpile our visibility. Because they know that without visibility we disappear back into the edges of society and those who follow will not have any role models. They’ll be too scared to be themselves. And as a community we become ghosts and circus animals again.

So whether we like it or not, we have a responsibility to the next generations of trans people. What we want is irrelevant. We have to be visible, because without it those that follow will be consigned to the shadows again. And that would be heartbreaking. 

But we don’t have to be just trans. We can be cat lovers, film fans, artists, engineers, foodies, gamers, tea aficionados and any number of other things that make up who we are and that we love to talk about. But right now. In these circumstances, we must also all be visibly trans.

Rowan Jetté Knox
Rowan Jetté Knox's post on Threads

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