As you may have seen on your social media feeds, Elliot Page came out as trans. In a statement posted on social media yesterday morning, Elliot (who goes by the pronouns he/him and they/them) wrote:
Obviously, this is amazing news. And I want to gush about this. For one thing, I always think it’s wonderful when someone has the courage to live as their authentic self and to share that with the world. When that someone is also a celebrity who can add to the representation and visibility for their community, I get even more excited. And then ON TOP OF THAT, when that someone is Elliot Page, an icon who has been a champion for the LGBTQ+ community and is such a role model for so many people, I kinda lose my mind.
I could spend a whole article just talking about Elliot’s statement. It’s celebratory but gracious. It’s somber yet hopeful. It’s just really f-cking good, and if you can read it without crying, well then I applaud your emotional resolve. It also speaks to Elliot’s continuous advocacy. Because even though it’s about his coming out, he still manages to shine a spotlight on the discrimination and violence faced by the trans community, and particularly by trans people of colour.
Elliot’s announcement comes after Monday’s news about Laverne Cox and the hate crime she experienced while on a walk with a friend. It’s a sad juxtaposition of what reality looks like for a lot of trans people. Along with the freedom of being yourself comes the danger and violence of an oppressive and prejudiced society. As Elliot says, “...despite feeling profoundly happy right now and knowing how much privilege I carry, I am also scared.” You needn’t look further than the comments below tweet to see how real that fear actually is. (I don’t actually recommend reading the comments though, it’s just depressing.)
However, this is why Elliot coming out as trans has never been more important. As much as it is a personal journey, it’s also one that can bring hope, awareness, and relief to so many others.
For me, one of the biggest takeaways from this announcement is the visibility that it brings to what a journey of self-discovery actually looks like. Back in 2014, Elliot came out as gay during a speech for the HRC’s Time to Thrive Conference. In 2018, Elliot married Emma Portner. Now, two years later in 2020, Elliot is coming out as trans.
To the casual observer, that might seem confusing. But for anyone who has struggled to understand their gender, sexuality, or any other part of their identity, it’s a familiar story. One that involves trying on labels that seem to fit at first, and then finding out that they didn’t cut it later on. Or feeling as though the categories that the world put you in weren’t the ones that felt right to you, even if you once thought they did. Sometimes it’s an experience of not even knowing what the right categories are!
In such a process, there’s so much that goes on and so much that can change. And I’m thrilled that Elliot, by sharing that journey with the rest of the world, was able to bring light to that and share his experience. Hopefully, someone else who’s going through the same thing can see Elliot’s experience and understand that it’s okay.
When Lainey posted about Laverne Cox on Monday, she said, “She was with a friend who stood up for her – and I’d like to believe that there are many more of us who, if we witnessed this, would have stood up for her in the moment too.”
November 20 was Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day that memorializes the lives of the victims of transphobic violence. The week leading up to it was Transgender Awareness Week. Although we’re now three weeks out, we can still take this opportunity to evaluate and reinvigorate our commitment to being allies to the trans community. To educate ourselves, reach out to the trans people in our life, and speak out for those who have to live in fear of doing so.
In celebration of Elliot, I’m sharing his speech from 2014. It’s only about eight minutes, so I would highly recommend watching it if you can. It’s a powerful reminder of the work that we need to put in, but also a reminder of the way in which Elliot has been showing up for the LGBTQ community throughout his entire career. And in much the same way, I hope we can show up for him.