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Lone Star actor Brian Michael Smith on Paul’s difficult post-transition relationship with his sister

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(Warning: this post contains spoilers for Monday’s “9-1-1: Lone Star”.)

Paul Strickland (Brian Michael Smith) and his family learned a lesson about the importance of just talking to each other on “9-1-1: Lone Star” Mondays. Member 126 discovered that his younger sister was not transphobic, as he believed, but rather was angry and confused about the loss of her “sister” since Paul became trans while his sister now young adult was 9 years old. old.

Smith told TheWrap how important the episode, titled “Everyone and Their Brother,” was to him, especially as a trans actor, who has faced complicated close relationship changes in his own. post-transition life.

“I had a good Zoom with the writers and we discussed all of this,” said the “9-1-1: Lone Star” actor. “And something that I enjoyed, as an artist and actor, I was trying to ask myself what I can bring to the world that no one else can that has never been seen before? And as a trans artist, we’ve seen people who are in pre-transition or who are considering a transition or an early transition having conversations about coming out or coming out, the topic of disclosure, how they will tell their family members and what their family members are going to do. We have already seen a lot of them. And sometimes what’s lost is that people have a lot of different responses to the news. And a lot of what we have presented is either total acceptance or total rejection based on bigotry and discrimination. But in real life there are all kinds of nuances in the way people react to things. And sometimes the answer changes over time. “

We learn at the top of the episode when Paul’s mother and sister come to town in a large RV, they plan to drive all the way to South America that Paul has a loving and warm relationship with his mother, Cynthia Strickland. (played by guest star Cleo King), who accepted him for who he is. But his younger sister, Naomi (Regina Hoyles), is cold when she greets him. Throughout the hour, they bicker over what’s best for their mother’s health, an attitude Paul believes stems from Naomi’s fanatic about her trans status.

It wasn’t until the episode ended, when he rushed to the hospital to find that his sister was admitted with an exacerbation of her multiple sclerosis, that the two finally spoke about how the transition de Paul affected not only him – but also her. Naomi told her brother that she loved her older sister, idolized her and was too young to understand Paul’s transition. She was very upset by the “loss” of her sister when Paul came out and then left.

“What I really like about being able to play Paul is that he’s someone who is way beyond transition in terms of both physical and medical aspects. He’s what you call post-transition, and he’s deeply embedded in his life, his true identity. But there’s still that lasting impact of his decision to live his authentic self, ”Smith said. “Even though there is acceptance, there have been changes in the relationship he has had with his family members.

“We’ve seen what happens when you don’t have open communication or conversations about these changes, where people don’t think they’re allowed to express how they’re feeling,” he continued. “A lot of people don’t want to sound like they’re bigoted or transphobic, so they hide the fact that they have feelings of loss, grief, confusion. They feel like they can’t have these conversations. And I think that’s what her sister stands for, and it’s an important voice to bring out and an important point of view to share with the world and reflect on. Because it happens a lot.

Smith says this has happened in his own life, “where people know deep down that they still love their family member who is trans or LGBT. They still have love, and they don’t necessarily have a problem per se with the part of that person’s identity that has just been revealed to them or that they have just discovered, but they feel a sense of loss because that the relationship will change and the way the person identifies will change. And people need time to cry, and it’s okay to cry.

Paul “must have made his trip,” Smith says, but this episode also shows “that he had to be a little more aware that his trip has an impact on the people he cares about.”

“What was great about this episode was that it clearly showed that, it gave space for the sister and her feelings and it’s a portrayal of people in families who have a being. dear whose identity they might discover something different about them, ”said Smith.

“But Paul also had the chance to make his own and hold onto his truth while still having space for his sister. He didn’t apologize for who he is, he didn’t apologize for the choice he made in life – but he apologized for what he needed to apologize for, which didn’t left no room for her sister’s feelings when she was younger. And let her know that it was not from a place of wickedness, but from her own youth and her own lack of capacity at this point in her life to guide her through it. He was fortunate enough to explain at that time to the hospital that he was young, and if he could do things differently he would, but he’s always been someone who loves him and cares about her. And even though the idea that she had of who he was is no longer there, the love he has for her and who he is at an essential level is still there and will always love him and will always be a Support. I thought it was so important to be clear and felt like we really hit him in the episode. “

“9-1-1: Lone Star” airs Mondays at 9 / 8c on Fox.

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