It's the end of an era for Shortland Street's transgender actor Tash Keddy, but there are hopes his storyline will have a lasting impact.

Wellington-born Keddy made history when he became the medical soap's first transgender actor playing a transgender character in a long-running storyline.

Two years on, Keddy was set to make his final appearance in Wednesday's episode as his character Blue - a teenage girl who wants to be a boy – leaves home to go flatting.

Keddy previously told the Herald he identified as "somewhere on the male spectrum. Which is pretty broad."


Reflecting on his first major acting gig, the 22-year-old told the Weekend Herald he believed the role had "hugely" changed things for the transgender community.

Actor Tash Keddy, who plays Blue on Shortland Street. Photo / Dean Purcell
Actor Tash Keddy, who plays Blue on Shortland Street. Photo / Dean Purcell

"There is just a real lack of trans stories being told by trans people, for trans people or even by cis[gender] actors for trans people," he said.

"Representation is the key, it's key to reaching new people and reaching out to people who might not be so sure about what it's all about.

"I think it's been really cool to play a character who's maybe not so likeable but there are moments of charm and just general humanness that a lot of people feel like they can tap into and they can get past the transgender identity, which they might not have been so sold on before or had some reservations against."

While Keddy was interested in exploring other acting roles in the future, for now it was back to the University of Auckland to finish a fine arts degree he started before he landed his Shortland Street gig.

Keddy said since hitting screens in March 2016, a number of people had approached him to say how important it was for them to have a character like Blue on TV.

"Which is so humbling," he said.

"I had this really cool experience…the night I aired. I was walking up Hereford St in [Auckland CBD] and one of the sex workers came up to me and gave me the hugest hug and she was like 'thank you so much' and I was like wow that means so much to me."


The 22-year-old said he was grateful not only to have played such an important role, but also be involved in decisions, such as around the wording used, to make sure they were getting the storyline right.

"We're not here to tell a story that isn't real or is some sort of fictitious conception of what it means to be trans," he said.

Actor Tash Keddy says being on Shortland Street has been
Actor Tash Keddy says being on Shortland Street has been "really, really cool". Photo / Dean Purcell

Producer Maxine Fleming said the show has always strived to represent diversity in the community, which was why having a young transgender character was important.

"Equally as important was to find a transgender actor to play the role of Blue and we were lucky to find Tash to take it on, bringing credibility to the character from the start.

"I think Blue's storylines helped bring about a degree of acceptance over time as the audience shifted from initially reacting only to his gender and sexual preferences to responding to his ups and down as they would with any other character on the show."

Fleming hoped this would also impact on the way transgender people are treated in their communities.

Keddy, whose storylines included bringing down a school bully, said he learned "so much" during his time on Shortland Street.

"It was intense at first and it takes a really long time to get used to what's going on and the schedule and how things work. But I was quite lucky to start at the same time as [actress] Laurel Devenie, who plays my mum, and we were both just kind of like 'whoa' together"

"I've got to work with some awesome people as well - people I don't think I would have met any other way."