In his first interview since disclosing that he is transgender, Elliot Page tells TIME that while he was expecting that the reaction would be a mix of “support and love and a massive amount of hatred and transphobia”, he did not think his news would be as big as it was, that it would be a front page story around the world. Just as it was in December, this TIME cover feature was also a front page story around the world yesterday, and continues to be today.
This is an unimaginable amount of pressure for someone who is still “understanding himself in all the specifics”. Especially when his true self, his true identity, remains so heartbreakingly threatening to people – and what’s so insightful about this interview, in which Elliot is candid and vulnerable and determined and realistically optimistic, is that he’s sharing because he believes it’s part of his purpose. It should be enough for Elliot to just be who he is. And yet here he is, figuring out what being who he is feels like, while taking on the responsibility of making stories like his more familiar to the world, in the hopes that the world might be safer for the community that’s actually being threatened.
For Elliot, being white and wealthy, he’s aware that he has much more privilege and by extension protection than most other trans people and this is why he’s making what’s personal so public: to raise awareness about their struggles, their fears, so that they can live their lives instead of having to stay alive. So this profile is about educating people – by talking about what it was like moving through Hollywood all this time so uncomfortably, about how trans women are more visible and that may perhaps make them more targeted but at the same time, trans women have more cultural models to look to, whereas trans men have few in public spaces they can look to.
Elliot is doing the labour of informing through his own experience, informing people like me, with a gross track record of transphobia and ignorance. While I believe I have grown, accountability isn’t a finite process – it is ongoing and fluid and there’s never a limit to learning anyway. But as much as I wish I was unique in that area, I know I am not. And if you’re in the same position, you may be learning as much from Elliot as I am, even though he doesn’t owe us sh-t. But here he is, putting himself out there, doing the work to move people like me forward. The least we could do is see him and hear him, and to honour his efforts by standing with those who are persecuted for simply being who they are, fully embracing their right to pursue their dreams and live the way they want to live.
If you haven’t already, head to TIME to read Elliot’s profile.
Yours in gossip,