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First Dates star Steph Kyriacou praises show for showing 'normal life' of trans people – exclusive

Video producer Steph Kyriacou looked for love on the Channel 4 dating show

A woman in a black dress and tattoos and a man in a lavendar shirt in front of a pink background
Matthew Moore
Online News Writer & Diversity and Inclusion Lead
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First Dates is back and we're loving watching the hopefuls see if they'll find love as they step into the famous restaurant, and for the Channel 4 show's latest episode, freelance video producer Steph Kyriacou was welcomed in.

But Steph didn't come alone as both he and his mum featured in the same episode, but thankfully the experience wasn't too daunting. "I just let her do it," Steph told HELLO! in an exclusive interview, admitting he was too wrapped up in his own date to worry about how his mum's was going. "I was having such a nice time that I genuinely just forgot half the time, not even that my mum was there, but I forgot that I was on a TV show.

WATCH: Steph and mum Andrea make their First Dates appearance

"The thing I was most nervous about was this beautiful woman sitting in front of me and how this is my first proper date in about six years. I was more nervous about not embarrassing myself in front of this woman. I did look over once or twice because she was laughing at one point, I'm sure I heard my mum laugh across the restaurant, so I was like: 'Now I have to have a peek and see what's going on'."

Steph is a massive self-confessed fan of the show, often watching alongside his mum and sister, and he revealed how in a joking manner it was a family viewing party that led to him and his mum signing up. "My sister said something like: 'Steph, you should apply, you've been single for a while and you keep saying that you want to find somebody, they pair people up really well on first dates, why don't you give it a go?' I pulled the application up and then I said to my mum, 'Well you've been single for about as long as I have, why don't you apply as well?'"

One theme of Steph's episode is his being a trans man, though ahead of the show he wasn't worried about how his date would react as he had been "open" about this on his application form, noting: "I wouldn't want to go on a date and then have the person not know and then if they don't want to date a trans person, then we can just leave it there."

And while Steph had some concerns that his mum might say something "misguided" when speaking about her son, thankfully this didn't pan out, meaning his only concern was having been out of the dating pool for a while. "It was a mixture of emotions, I was excited but really nervous because I've had casual things over the years, but this was my first proper date date," he admitted.

A man with facial hair  in a jumper where one half has green and red stripes and the other is a solid blue. In the background is a Pride flag hanging on a wall© Instagram
Steph took on the challenge alongside his mum

"There's a way I want to be on a date with someone when it's not a casual thing. I didn't have to remind myself of things, but this was a real fancy adult date and I had to give myself a little pep talk beforehand just to try and not get nervous or ramble or say anything silly."

On how he previously navigated the dating world, Steph added: "I have this pre-established relationship with people I'm comfortable with which is a lot easier than trying to date strangers. Going back properly into the dating scene has been interesting, I've been on a few dates in the last year through a dating app I'm on, but they've all been going for drinks once and then never hearing back.

"I'm open [about my identity] on dating apps, so I've not faced issues thus far involving me being trans, people can just swipe away from me if they're not interested, which saves me a lot of time. But there's always that little voice in the back of my head that's always saying: 'Be careful, because you never quite know people's true intentions'. I know you can't always prevent this, but I want to try and avoid unsafe situations and that's the main way that being trans affects my dating life, that that constant paranoia and striving for safety, which I know a lot of a lot of white cis-het men won't have that fear."

Having worked at PinkNews for several years creating videos alongside his own personal projects, Steph has amassed an online following and he spoke of how it was an "honour and privilege" to be able to share positive trans representation. "Being trans has been a big part of my life ever since I got comfortable with myself and started publicly speaking about my identity," he shared. "I'm almost 30 and I still get overwhelmed when I see trans representation because we're not used to good trans representation, so much of it, we're used as the butt of jokes or in shock, disgusting storylines."

A man in a white t-shirt that features a T-rex spitting out rainbow. He also wears a chain necklace. Behind him are a pride flag and bisexual pride flag on the wall© Instagram
Steph was ready to re-enter the dating world after six years

Countering this narrative, he added: "First of all, that's obviously rude and inaccurate, but we just want to see people like us living our lives and doing normal things, like going on dates and being embarrassing and flirting with someone and saying something cringy. People genuinely forget that at the end of the day, we're just people, which sounds like the most simplistic statement, but people forget that we are just humans living our lives trying to get through day to day.

"It's a massive deal that there's a platform allowing positive trans representation without making a big deal of it. I didn't know how much of what I said was going to be included in the show itself, but I'm really thankful that it was just a small portion of the date, because there is more to me than just being trans. First Dates did a really good job of getting that balance right in the episode."

And speaking about the importance of shows like First Dates featuring a diverse set of contestants, he continued: "It's reflecting the world that we live in, there's no point in having reality TV if it's not real. In some shows, I won't name names, the cast all look exactly the same, and have exactly the same background. And that's fine if it works for that show, but if you want to portray real lives, real joy, real relationships, you need real people.

A man with facial hair in a black and red jumper with a pride flag and bisexual pride flag hanging on the wall© Instagram
Steph praised the show for its diverse cast

"It's incredibly important to be diverse, not just with trans people, but with people of colour, disabled people and to reflect reality in reality TV. I still get excited every single time I'm watching First Dates and I see a fellow queer person or a trans person being themselves and opening themselves up to dating."

Although Steph's episode, which was available on 4oD before hitting Channel 4, has been overwhelmingly positive, he's still aware that a "little bit of negativity" will be generated from his appearance, something that leaves him dismayed, but mostly about the effect it may have on "other trans people seeing those comments, especially younger ones".

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And while many might be hopeful to see him dip his toes into other reality formats, this isn't something that is massively on his mind. "The main reason I even considered First Dates is because it's one of my favourites, but it's also one of the only ones that I watch because it's so real and wholesome," Steph admitted. "I wouldn't say no, there are shows that I would definitely say yes to, it would just depend on the show because it turns out I quite like television."