'I could not picture myself as a woman ageing': Elliot Page reveals pre-transition agony
Elliot Page, who came out as transgender and non-binary in late 2020, has reflected on how he received love and support from many people after his declaration but also "hatred, cruelty, and vitriol". Page defined transphobia as "just so, so, so extreme" in his latest column and discussed the negative implications of humor, adding that while some people believe a joke is meant to be taken lightly, it does have an impact and can cause pain.
On Wednesday, June 1, Page wrote the guest piece for Esquire in which he detailed his transition experience. "It's not a joke," Page wrote. "You believe what you're saying. You believe it. It's not a joke. They believe it. It's clearly not a joke. And all we're saying is: Can you just please listen and understand the harm that it causes? That's all we're trying to say. That is literally all we are trying to say."
Page writes in his column that he understands the suicide problem among trans individuals, particularly at the time when he lost a lot of weight and had panic attacks. "There were moments of wanting to not be here, but that was just the sensation that I was left with. It wasn't a movement for action—other than the ways in which I was abusing my body, clearly," Page wrote. "I would look out the window of my apartment and think, with everything going on right now and how incredible it all is, this is how I feel? And I'm twenty-two? It was like, I don't know if I could do it."
Page, now 35, has a clear, positive response when asked what he has learned from transitioning: "I can't overstate the biggest joy, which is really seeing yourself, but to me I'm just starting to look like myself," the actor admits, acknowledging that he appears different to others. "The greatest joy is just being able to feel present, literally, just to be present," says Page, who describes the sensation as "indescribable."
Page, who was nominated for an Academy Award for the picture, 'Juno' in 2007, recalls not being allowed to choose his outfit for the premiere, while other cast members such as Michael Cera appeared to be given more leeway. "I remember the premiere of Juno at the Toronto International Film Festival," Page says, adding that he grew up working in Canada and wasn't used to having a stylist.
Page stated, "I dressed how I wanted to dress — not dissimilar to now," saying that he learned "the degree of expectation of how fancy someone is supposed to look." He recalled telling Fox Searchlight that he wanted to wear a suit but was told, "No, you need to wear a dress. And they took me in a big rush to one of those fancy stores on Bloor Street."
"They had me wear a dress, and . . . that was that. And then all the Juno press, all the photo shoots — Michael Cera was in slacks and sneakers," Page said. "I look back at the photos, and I'm like . . .?" Page now considers the scenario "extremely f***ed up," and he believes he shouldn't have to approach it "as just this thing that happened—this somewhat normal thing."
"It's like: No," the actor adds. "Regardless of me being trans! I've had people who've apologized about things: 'Sorry, I didn't know, I didn't know at the time.' It doesn't matter! It doesn't matter if I'm trans or cis. Lots of cis women dress how I dress. That has nothing to f***ing do with it." Although 'Juno' was clearly a massive success, both in terms of general popularity and the profits it brought in, Page recalls having difficulties with food, depression and anxiety during that time, and considers it “gross” that he was bound to dress in a way that wasn't comfortable. Page said, "I wish I could go back and experience it now. As me."
Page, whose biography Pageboy is due to be released next year, writes in a moment of reflection on his experience, "I could not picture myself as a woman ageing. Obviously. It was just like, what is my future? There's not a future. That's kind of what it felt like. I would say, verbatim: I've never been a girl. I'll never be a woman." The actor, who will be featured in season three of 'The Umbrella Academy' when it premieres on Netflix on June 22, also considers the prospect of future typecasting.
"You wouldn't say to J-Law or Rooney Mara, are they worried about getting typecast as cis straight women?" Page wonders. Simultaneously, the actor expresses a wish for a space where trans individuals can be cast as cis characters. Page finds pleasure in the ordinary daily chores of life, such as waking up, sitting down with a book, and actually reading it because he experienced a "degree of discomfort" that "got in the way of everything" at one point in his life