by Abby Delk, Copy Editor
Actor Elliot Page, star of Juno and the Netflix original series The Umbrella Academy, publicly came out as trans on Twitter on December 1st. In a long and heartfelt post, the actor wrote, “I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life.”
Page’s announcement marks another in a string of celebrity coming-outs of the last decade and represents another positive step towards more trans visibility in the arts. Page joins the ranks of other beloved trans performers like Laverne Cox (star of Orange Is the New Black), pop singer Kim Petras, and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner.
Page’s announcement is a particularly historic moment for trans masculine visibility. As writer Jude Dry pointed out in an article for IndieWire, most of the widely-known transgender celebrities are trans feminine. As Dry writes, “As a trans masculine person, I wish I had grown up with a role model like Elliot Page, and I am so happy for all the kids who get to live in a world where he can, as he so eloquently wrote, ‘love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self.’”
In their announcement, Page expressed appreciation for the people that had helped them along their journey. “I’ve been endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community,” they wrote. “Thank you for courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place.”
Page had previously come out as queer in 2014 and has been a vocal supporter of LGBTQ+ rights. He has played several queer roles in the last decade in projects like “Tales of the City,” “Freeheld,” and “My Days of Mercy.” Page also produced the queer docuseries “Gaycation” and the documentary “There’s Something in the Water,” which explores Canada’s history of environmental racism and injustices towards indigenous communities.
Page’s activism even appeared in his coming out statement, and he acknowledged the extreme discrimination that many in the transgender community face today: “The statistics are staggering. The discrimination towards trans people is rife, insidious and cruel, resulting in horrific consequences. In 2020 alone it has been reported that at least 40 transgender people have been murdered, the majority of which were Black and Latinx trans women.”
Page also called on politicians and others in positions of power to take this violence against the trans community seriously and stop propagating hate and discrimination against trans people. “To the political leaders who work to criminalize trans health care and deny our right to exist and to all with a massive platform who continue to spew hostility towards the trans community: you have blood on your hands,” Page wrote.
Page may have been referring to “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, who garnered a lot of attention in June of this year when she made a series of comments on Twitter and her personal blog that many critics called transphobic. In a nearly 4,000-word blog posted in June, Rowling expressed several reasons why she is “deeply concerned about the consequences of the current trans activism.” Many have called Rowling’s “concerns” thinly-veiled (or, frankly, not veiled at all) transphobia and accuse Rowling of being a “TERF,” or a trans-exclusionary radical feminist. (I’m not including those comments in this article, as I see no reason to give Rowling’s transphobia further visibility. Seek out her posts at your own discretion.)
The negative response to Rowling’s online comments seems to have influenced her later decision to join 150 other authors and academics in denouncing “cancel culture” in an open letter published in Harper’s Magazine in July. Some have dismissed Rowling’s condemnation of cancel culture as merely an attempt to avoid criticism for openly transphobic views. As writer Jennifer Graham pointed out in a piece of DeseretNews, “Her ‘sin’ wasn’t something she did in the past but stemmed from a deeply held value for which she won’t apologize.”
In his coming out post, Page directly calls out those who complain about cancel culture in relation to transgender rights. “Enough is enough,” he wrote. “You aren’t being ‘cancelled,’ you are hurting people. I am one of those people and we won’t be silent in the face of your attacks.”
Netflix announced that Page will continue in their role as Vanya Hargreaves in the upcoming third season of “The Umbrella Academy.” Netflix also indicated that the character’s gender will likely not change. As Dry wrote, “While some commentators say the role should be recast, they would be wise to consider the message that firing a trans person for coming out would send. Identity is complex, Page is a versatile actor, and progress is not black and white. Page should be afforded all of the nuance and leeway necessary to continue his career while being his most authentic self—and being the queer icon we so need right now.”
Page ended his announcement by reiterating his pride at being a member of the trans community. “I love that I am trans. And I love that I am queer,” he wrote. “And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive.”
He also expressed support for everyone in the trans community who might be struggling with their identities or with unfair discrimination. “To all the trans people who deal with harassment, self-loathing, abuse and the threat of violence every day: I see you, I love you and I will do everything I can to change this world for the better.”