Hayley Anne Cropper (née Patterson) is a fictional character in the British soap opera Coronation Street. Played by actress Julie Hesmondhalgh, she first appeared on the show in January 1998 as the first transsexual character in a British soap.
Background and ArrivalEdit
She was originally introduced as Hayley Patterson, a shy shop supervisor (Played by Julie Hesmondhalgh) at Firman's Freezers. Mutual friend Alma Baldwin introduced her to Roy Cropper, the slightly odd owner of Roy's Rolls, a greasy spoon café. They formed a strong friendship — until Hayley revealed she was a pre-operative transsexual woman. Upon learning this, Roy was unable to handle the situation, and initially rejected her. He later relented, accepting that their friendship was more important than Hayley's secret. After affirming their mutual attraction, Hayley left Weatherfield for Amsterdam to have private sex reassignment surgery. Three months later, and missing his friend, Roy followed her to Amsterdam where she was living on a houseboat. He persuaded her that they should work on their relationship so she returned to Weatherfield where she became a machinist in Mike Baldwin's lingerie factory, Underworld.
Hayley, in a bid for privacy, had chosen not to disclose her transsexual status, but this was revealed when Baldwin discovered a Tax Office error, showing she was still registered in her original birth name, Harold. Baldwin fired her because of it, and although the factory staff and residents of the Street initially taunted her for being transsexual, she eventually got her job back, and most of the Street characters gradually accepted her.
Roy proposed to Hayley at a fancy-dress disco on St. Valentine's Day 1999. At that time, unfortunately, they could not legally marry, since Hayley was still seen as a male in the eyes of the law. Eventually they found a female vicar who would help the couple, and they were finally united in a blessing ceremony held in Roy's Rolls. As a wedding present to Roy, Hayley officially changed her name by deed poll to Hayley Cropper. Although it has been possible, since 2004, for trans people to change their birth certificates and marry legally, Roy and Hayley have not yet, to public knowledge, taken advantage of this change in the law.
Between them Roy and Hayley have fostered a couple of children (including Fiz Brown, who later returned to the Street after moving out of Roy and Hayley's home), but have not had any children placed with them after they ran away with a young boy, Wayne, in an attempt to protect him from his abusive stepfather. This led to them being arrested and to Hayley's imprisonment because of court complications, though in the end she was released when Wayne's family circumstances became clear. This situation has prevented Roy and Hayley from having any further foster children placed in their care.
In 2003, while Hayley was away from Weatherfield nursing her ill aunt, scheming Tracy Barlow bet one penny that she could bed the man supposedly least likely to be unfaithful — Roy! Despite the extremely unlikely pairing, Tracy got Roy drunk, slipped Rohypnol into his drink, took him home and pretended to have slept with him. Roy was desperate to keep the news from Hayley but broke down and admitted everything. Upon confronting Tracy, the Croppers were stunned when Tracy revealed that she was pregnant with Roy's unborn baby. As Tracy revealed her plans to abort the child as soon as possible if the couple didn't want to adopt it, the Croppers recognised a golden opportunity to gain a child, and paid Tracy's demand for £25,000 to keep the baby.
The marriage became increasingly strained, including a suicide attempt by Roy, but they pulled through. Roy grew suspicious and worried when Tracy disappeared on a three-week holiday with the money. Realising how easy it would be for Tracy to disappear with the cash and the baby, Roy said that she must marry him (to prevent her taking the child out of the country without his permission) or cancel the deal. She reluctantly agreed, and they married as Tracy was still pregnant. The adulteress later confessed to her bigamist former stepbrother that Steve McDonald was in fact the true father (due to a one-night stand shortly before her so-called fling with Roy), and admitted that she'd never had sex with Roy. This emerged at Steve's wedding to his ex-wife Karen, as Tracy demanded that baby Patience be handed over to her (she'd grown a maternal bond for her newborn daughter). The Croppers, heartbroken, were forced to do so, and Roy told Tracy to keep the cash. Steve and Karen still remarried despite Tracy nearly ruining everything, and Karen got her own back after gatecrashing the baby's christening. Patience Cropper was later renamed Amy Barlow, and the Croppers became her godparents.
Hayley's transsexual status is rarely referred to in current storylines, except for comic effect, and usually only to new characters as they join the cast. She still works as a machinist and supervisor for Underworld, and remains one of the most popular characters on the Street.
Following the death of a family member in September 2007, Hayley learned that she had a son Christian Gatley as a result of a pre-operative liaison. She hired a private investigator to track him down, and eventually introduced herself to him as his aunt. Roy became suspicious when he discovered that money had been withdrawn from their joint bank account, and confronted Hayley, at which point she revealed everything to Roy. Roy was upset at the deception, as he had previously believed Hayley to be a virgin. Following pressure from Roy to confront Christian, Hayley finally revealed the truth during a private moment by the river. Christian did not take the news well, and made to storm off. Hayley pleaded with him to understand, but during her protestations, Christian lashed out and hit Hayley across the face. On her return to the cafe, she made it clear that she blamed Roy for both the attack, and for the probable loss of contact with her son. This has caused problems in their marriage. The couple then decided to take a three-week break from their jobs and go camping in a bid to mend their issues. On returning, Hayley was set on the idea of heading to Africa to help underprivileged children with Roy. However, when only one place became available on the trip, Roy persuaded Hayley to go and enjoy the experience. At present, Roy expects her to be gone around six months.
In the Daily Mirror on the 1 September 2007, it was announced Hayley would be leaving for Africa to help under privileged children, but also that she would be returning the following year. She returns to UK screens at the end of October.
The appearance of a transsexual woman in a mainstream soap opera appeared to attract initial opposition from some members of the public, as expressed in calls to the Granada duty office, and letters written to magazines and newspapers. A minority of people expressed their concern at having such "bizarreness" brought into their homes on a prime-time television show. Transgender and transsexual groups were also largely unhappy with the storyline, and found Hayley's original character traits, as written, to be cliched and ill-informed. Press for Change, the transsexual campaign and information group, were particularly concerned with the direction of the storyline, but after the first two months a trans advisor connected to Press for Change was regularly consulted by scriptwriters and the actress, and trans groups appeared happier with the stories and scripts that resulted from this liaison. The character turned out to be highly popular, especially in regard to the Roy/Hayley love story, and Hayley became a regular member of the cast.
Coronation Street's handling of transsexual issues, the uncertainty of whether her partner would accept her transsexuality and the inability of transsexual people to adopt children or marry, has been praised by transgendered groups. An Early Day Motion was also tabled in Parliament by Lynne Jones, MP, praising the story team and researchers, and Julie Hesmondhalgh for her portrayal.
Following the screening of the "wedding" in 1999, the Labour Government announced that a Parliamentary Working Group was being created to assess how the United Kingdom could grant trans people the legal rights for which they had fought for decades. The result of this was the tabling, in 2004, of the Gender Recognition Act, granting trans people full legal status in their acquired sex. It has been said that the character of Hayley Cropper deserves partial credit for bringing the issues faced by trans people to public attention in a sympathetic manner, rather than the sensationalist coverage that had previously existed. It is also alleged that the resultant public support for this fictional character went in favour of the Bill.