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Elliot Page is opening up about what prompted him to announce last December that he is transgender and how he felt before and after his big announcement.
In his first interview since coming out as trans, for a cover story with Time magazine, Page is emotional at times, and when asked how he felt before sharing the news, he pauses and puts his hand to his heart and closes his eyes.
“This feeling of true excitement and deep gratitude to have made it to this point in my life,” he says, “mixed with a lot of fear and anxiety.”
Page adds that he expected the news to be met with both praise and backlash but didn’t anticipate his announcement to get so much attention.
“What I was anticipating was a lot of support and love and a massive amount of hatred and transphobia,” he tells Time. “That’s essentially what happened.”
He explains that it was partly the isolation caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that led to him confronting issues that he’d been wrestling with.
“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,” Page, who recently split from his wife, Emma Portner, says. According to Time, Page was inspired by openly trans stars like Janet Mock and Laverne Cox, and reading the work of trans writers helped him better understand his feelings.
After “shame and discomfort,” Page recalls to Time, “I was finally able to embrace being transgender and letting myself fully become who I am.”
And he feels a responsibility to speak out.
“Extremely influential people are spreading these myths and damaging rhetoric — every day you’re seeing our existence debated,” Page says. “Transgender people are so very real.”
In the profile, Page and close friend and fellow actor Alia Shawkat open up about the discomfort he felt earlier in his career after becoming famous for his acclaimed, Oscar-nominated role in Juno.
“He had a really hard time with the press and expectations,” Shawkat tells Time. “‘Put this on! And look this way! And this is sexy!’”
Amid all of the primping and red carpets and photoshoots, Page says, “I just never recognized myself. For a long time I could not even look at a photo of myself.”
He says it was also difficult for him to watch himself in movies, particularly ones in which he played more feminine roles, and by the time he appeared in movies like X-Men: The Last Stand and Inception, he was suffering from depression, anxiety and panic attacks. Shawkat recalls that even putting on a T-shirt cut for a woman made him feel “unwell” and as if he were wearing a “costume.” Even after coming out as gay in 2014, Page said he still felt a “discomfort” in his body.
After coming out as trans, Page’s manager was contacted by casting directors who said it would be an honor to cast him, and his team is receiving offers to direct, produce and act in trans-related projects.
The actor is currently filming the third season of Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy, where his co-workers indicate he seems more at peace.
“It seems like there’s a tremendous weight off his shoulders, a feeling of comfort,” showrunner Steve Blackman tells Time. “There’s a lightness, a lot more smiling.”
And he’s looking forward to his future as an actor.
“I’m really excited to act, now that I’m fully who I am, in this body,” Page says. “No matter the challenges and difficult moments of this, nothing amounts to getting to feel how I feel now.”
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