Ryan Murphy has been at the forefront of queer representation on television for the past few years. Pose. American Horror Story. Glee. Currently 9-1-1 Lone Star has shattered stereotypes of how transgender people are viewed. Carrying that flag on his sturdy shoulders for his community is Brian Michael Smith. The 40-year-old actor plays Paul Strickland on the hit Fox television series.
Smith has always used his celebrity for the greater good, just this week alone presenting Michaela Jaé Rodriguez with the 2023 Equality Award at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Los Angeles dinner. He also discussed making the decision to transition as a young adult and embracing his identity during Dotdash Meredith’s From Invisibility to Trans Visibility Week panel, which was moderated by writer and actor Scott Turner Schofield. The discussion also featured ACLU Deputy Director for Transgender Justice Chase Strangio, Olympian Chris Mosier and actor Vico Ortiz. (People magazine.)
The actor, who was also in Queen Sugar discussed in his own words how he felt when he realized he wasn’t alone in the world.
“I spent my 20s doing what everybody does in their 20s but I just took a different journey with mine and by the time I was able to actually access the care, I had discovered that there are other people like me. When I was 19, I was in college in the middle of Ohio, and I didn’t know what I was going to do about that I just felt so good to know that I wasn’t the only person, that, historically, there were other people, that there were standards of care that have already been established. There was a process. There were clinics, there were places to go. And there were actually other people to meet, who were further down the road than I was.”
Honored to be included in @people #Sexiestmanalive issue repping @911LoneStar with some of my other favorite TV firefighters.
🔥 🚒 💪🏾https://t.co/yDDmQFNsJM
The new issue hits stands tomorrow! #911Lonestar #stricklandsaturday #people pic.twitter.com/3bQohD9zLr
— Brian Michael Smith (@TheBrianMichael) November 10, 2022
*on starting hormone therapy
“I was able to see myself expressed on the outside physically in a way and really be inside my body for the first time and be visibly seen and taken into the world as myself for the first time. I really just wanted to enjoy that. I am myself and the person that I’ve seen in my mind’s eye for so long is looking back at me in the mirror, is out on the streets.”
*on publicly coming out as transgender after his career was established
“I could be out and then take the sort of crumbs of bad trans representation that was available. Or I could just define who I am as a person and as what I want to explore now. And then, when the moment comes, I can share this part of myself. Around, 2015 or 2016, I was like no, I distinctly want to take ownership of this full part of my identity.”
“You really cannot be what you cannot see” – @TheBrianMichael pic.twitter.com/5zzEjGkRcO
— Ronen Rubinstein 🧜🏼♂️ (@RonenRubinstein) March 26, 2023
*on the current hatred towards the Transgender community from Republican lawmakers
“I feel like that’s something I have a really hard time navigating. We have these sort of arguments and these debates where people are trying to tell me about something, and I’m like, ‘I’m the one living the experience. I’m here, I’m telling you, I’m a trans person. You’re not, that’s okay. You don’t have to be trans. I am. Let me live.'”
*on living an authentic life
“We’re trans people. We’ve been trans the whole time. So I never was a woman who became a man. I was me the whole time. You know, you just thought I was but we are who we are. And just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean that we’re not real.”
9-1-1 Lone Star airs Tuesday nights on Fox.