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Juno actor Elliot Page comes out as transgender

Oscar nominated actor Elliot Page, formerly known as Ellen, has come out as transgender over social media.

The Umbrella academy actor wrote: “Hi friends, I want to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns 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. I can’t begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self.”

Elliot Page rose to prominence after his performance in Juno which was nominated for best actress at the 2008 Academy Awards. He then went on to star in Inception as well as superhero franchise X-Men. It was on the set of X-Men: The Last Stand that Page alleges filmmaker Brett Ratner outed him as gay against his will.

The actor continued his statement by explaining his fear at coming out for the second time having opened up publicly about his sexuality in 2014. He said transphobia was “rife, insidious and cruel” whilst writing: “I’m scared of the invasiveness, the hate, the ‘jokes’ and of violence.

“The statistics are staggering. In 2020 alone it has been reported that at least 40 transgender people have been murdered.”

In the UK only 38% of non-binary people are comfortable being LGBT, with that number reducing to 34% for trans men according to the Government Equalities Office. Trans people are also less satisfied with their life averaging 5.5 on a scale from 1-10 with the national average being 7.7.

UK Government Equalities office

Elliot Page earnt much of his recent fame through the popular Netflix series The Umbrella Academy playing Vanya Hargreaves, a cisgender woman. Netflix have released a statement stating that the character’s gender will not change but Elliot will still play the role.

Freddy Edelhart, a theatre maker from New York who uses the pronouns they/them, says they are unsure how Elliot’s announcement will actually affect the industry but has “hopes”. They say the announcement could be an “exciting opening” into more trans roles existing and trans actors being cast that would allow for actors like Page to be “fulfilled creatively”.

However, Edelhart has concerns over “employment equity” as progress still needs to be made in ensuring trans roles go to trans actors. In 2015 they wrote a letter to the Public Theatre in New York after they cast two of the main trans roles as cisgender actors and had a completely cisgender backstage crew. Whilst Freddy says there are more people wanting to put queer and trans people into their work, part of the problem lies in the lack of LGBT+ people in the writer’s room or production team.

In recent years many cis actors have come under criticism for playing trans roles such as Scarlett Johansson who dropped out of a role playing a trans man after facing public pressure. Edelhart argued that by hiring cis actors you are taking trans actors’ only opportunity at employment adding: “It makes it so that this identity is a costume that this person gets to put on, rather than a chance to reflect a truthful honest accurate experience.

“If you are putting trans characters in your story for clout you have to give some of that back to the community you are taking from.”

Jack Doyle, a trans advocacy worker, also hopes that Elliot’s announcement may be a vessel for change but is sceptical saying: “I hope that because he is already established in the industry, that that will create space to tell more complex trans stories, but I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Doyle who works for LGBT+ mental health charity MindOut says that situations like this with Page can be a “double edged sword” as more visibility helps normalise being transgender but can also bring scrutiny to trans people. He points to the “trans tipping point” being Caitlyn Jenner who caused a lot of “backlash and misunderstanding” following her coming out in 2015. Jenner was a keen supporter of Donald Trump and “clashed” with established trans activists.

However, Doyle does believe that as Page already has a strong knowledge of trans issues and activism he may prove important, saying: “I think it is really significant that someone with a big platform and a lot of public love is coming out.

“He’s in a place where he can be open about it which is certainly a big deal to a lot of trans people.”

Whilst Page is yet to give an indication of how his career will look going forward he ended his post with a positive message addressing trans people: “I love that I am trans and I love that I am queer.

“I see you, I love you, and I will do everything I can to change this world for the better.”


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