For the first time in its 88-year history, Time magazine features an openly transgender man on its cover: Canadian actor Elliot Page, who, after coming out publicly last December, now imparts details of her intimate journey to embracing his masculinity.
In an interview with Time, Page shares that feelings of gender dysphoria came early in his childhood. According to him, it wasn’t until he reached nine years old that he was finally allowed to get a short haircut.
“I felt like a boy. I wanted to be a boy. I would ask my mom if I could be someday,” Page disclosed.
This restriction bound to his gender expression would find its way to his acting career, where he said he would feel forced to “look a certain way” just to clinch roles. Acting in the coming-of-age film Juno, for which Page earned a Best Actress nomination in the 80th Academy Awards, he admitted that he struggled with publicly presenting himself as feminine to meet expectations coming from all fronts. Commenting on past photos on red carpets, magazines, and public events, Page said that he could “never recognize [himself].”
“For a long time I could not even look at a photo of myself,” he added. For constantly being the subject of gender expectations, Page revealed that he started suffering from depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.
It wasn’t until last year when the Umbrella Academy star truly garnered the space safe enough to publicly reveal and express his true self. Describing his feelings towards his decision to come out now, Page shared to Time that it was “of true excitement and deep gratitude to have made it to this point in my life mixed with a lot of fear and anxiety.”
However, he admitted that he also anticipated some level of backlash from apprehensive people. “What I was anticipating was a lot of support and love and a massive amount of hatred and transphobia. That’s essentially what happened.”
Currently, forms of transphobia do not just come from conventions by common folks, but also from — and enabled by — mounting anti-trans rhetoric and prejudiced legislation. For Page, that more and more politicians are introducing bills barring trans youth to the agencies they deserve goes against the intention of allowing more young people the avenue to publicly identify as transgender and to embrace their true selves.
“Extremely influential people are spreading these myths and damaging rhetoric – every day you’re seeing our existence debated,” Page said. “Transgender people are so very real.”
“We know who we are,” he also said. “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.”
Regarding his own journey to acceptance, Page shared that the pandemic offered him precious time and headspace to accept his true identity.
“I had a lot of time on my own to really focus on things that I think, in so many ways, unconsciously, I was avoiding,” he said. “I was finally able to embrace being transgender and letting myself fully become who I am.”
Moving forward, Page reveals he’s planning to return to acting with renewed excitement to explore. “I’m really excited to act, now that I’m fully who I am, in this body,” he said. “No matter the challenges and difficult moments of this, nothing amounts to getting to feel how I feel now.”
You can read Elliot Page’s full interview with TIME here.