Elliot Page has given his first interview since revealing that he is transgender. Speaking to Time magazine, the 34-year-old recalled how he spent his childhood (in Halifax, Nova Scotia) wanting to be a boy. Of the moment when he was allowed to cut his hair short at age 9, he said, "I felt like a boy. I wanted to be a boy. I would ask my mom if I could be someday."
However, months later Page—best known for Juno and Umbrella Academy—got his first major acting role, as a daughter in a Canadian mining family in the TV movie Pit Pony. A wig was the answer, but Page grew his hair long again when the movie became a TV show.
"I became a professional actor at the age of 10," he said. "Of course I had to look a certain way."
In December, Page shared his transgender identity on Instagram, writing, "Hi friends, I want to share with you that I am trans, my profound are he/they and my name is Elliot. I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life."
He acknowledged his fears and worries about making a public announcement, but also shared a huge sense of relief, writing, "I can't begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self."
Page also thanked his support system, including other people in the trans community.
"I've been endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community, he wrote. "Thank you for your courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place."
Two months later, during his conversation with Time, Page said he expected to be both celebrated and castigated for his news. "What I was anticipating was a lot of support and love and a massive amount of hatred and transphobia," he said. "That's essentially what happened."
But he wasn't expecting the story to be so huge—it started trending on Twitter in more than 20 countries, and gained him more than 400,000 new followers on Instagram within 24 hours, reported Time.
In 2014, Page came out as gay, revealing that he was "tired of hiding" after many of years of feeling "being out was impossible" in Hollywood. During an emotional speech at a Human Rights Campaign conference, he gave an insight into what it was like to be part of an industry "that places crushing standards" on actors and viewers alike.
"There are pervasive stereotypes about masculinity and femininity that define how we're all supposed to act, dress and speak," he said. "And they serve no one."
While he's still figuring a lot out about how identity plays out in all the different ways—and under the media spotlight, to boot—one thing is clear for Page.
"Extremely influential people are spreading these myths and damaging rhetoric—every day you're seeing our existence debated," he said. "Transgender people are so very real." And so he feels a very deep sense of responsibility to share his truth, along with a "feeling of true excitement and deep gratitude to have made it to this point in my life, mixed with a lot of fear and anxiety."
It's clear that Page intends to use his "privilege and platform" to raise awareness about anti-trans discrimination. When he tweeted about his Time interview, he wrote, "With deep respect for those who came before me, gratitude for those who have supported me & great concern for the generation of trans youth we must all protect, please join me and decry anti-trans legislation, hate & discrimination in all its forms."
"We know who we are," Page told Time, in reference to the rights of trans people. "People cling to these firm ideas [about gender] because it makes people feel safe. But if we could just celebrate all the wonderful complexities of people, the world would be such a better place." Of his own journey, Page also said "I want to live and be who I am," but that "It's a complicated journey and an ongoing process."
According to Reuters, Page is the first transgender man to grace the front cover of Time. He follows in the footsteps of fellow actor Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black) who became the first trans woman to appear on the cover in 2014.
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