Bel Priestley, a rising star known for her role in the popular queer drama “Heartstopper” season two, has recently shared her inspiring journey of overcoming school bullying and becoming a beacon of hope for the trans community.

In a heartfelt interview with the BBC, Priestley opened up about her experiences growing up in Leighton Buzzard, where being transgender was scarcely recognised.

Priestley recalled the challenges she faced from a young age, including moving schools due to bullying and struggling to align with her father’s expectations of engaging in traditional sports. Despite these hurdles, her passion for acting and performing remained unwavering.


At 12, Priestley came out as gay, which led to increased anxiety, panic attacks, and an eating disorder. However, it was at the age of 13, after discovering the concept of being transgender on Instagram, that Priestley experienced a profound moment of clarity. “Everything suddenly made sense,” she stated. The very next day, she came out as trans, changing her name and choosing to wear a skirt to school.

This decision marked a turning point in Priestley’s life, leading to intensified bullying. She described her school years as a fight for survival, often feeling too scared to attend classes and spending lunches in isolation. Despite being the first person to transition at her school and facing mixed reactions from teachers, including instances of deadnaming and exclusion from gender-aligned facilities, Priestley’s family fully embraced her identity.

Priestley adds that a lack of trans role models compelled her to start creating makeup tutorials on YouTube, enabling her to express herself and reach out to others like her. This online presence eventually grew into a significant following on TikTok, where she has garnered over 1 million followers, documenting her transition journey.

Her role in “Heartstopper” season two, which she describes as “one of the best experiences of my life,” was a dream come true, reflecting her aspirations to act in diverse roles, including a Disney Princess, a Bond girl, or a superhero.

Looking to the future, Priestley aims to complete her transition through surgery and continue inspiring the younger generation. She expressed her desire to be the role model she never had, stating, “It is lovely when I get comments saying I have helped people come out to their family. I know role models can make such a big difference to people, and I just want to be the best role model I can.”