When Elliot Page revealed last year that he was transsexual, he quickly became the most famous transsexual boy on the planet – at a particularly distressing political time for transsexuals in the United States. In the months following that announcement, more than 30 state legislatures presented more than 115 bills aimed at limiting health care and other rights for them, with a special focus on trans children. This year, eight explicitly anti-LGTBQ laws were passed in America, and ten more are on governors’ desks.
In spite of this tense context – and the vulnerability that most transsexuals experience in the early stages of transition – Page recently told me that he is also filled with “joy and emotion.” The strength that comes from being able to live his true self, as well as the awareness of the privilege granted to him by his visibility as an actor with a lot of Oscar nomination, have access in him the fire of the battle for trans rights. He appeared on the cover of Time and recorded an open-hearted chat with Oprah Winfrey, available May 6 on Apple TV +, with the hope that this interview will help combat the “misinformation and lies” that are imbued with the legislation. anti-trans.
We met in 2018. I didn’t know your gender identity situation, yet I already felt a certain affinity.
How would you describe your life today, compared to that of then?
“Today I feel capable of existing. I guess you can understand where I come from and what it can mean for me to even exist for what I am, for what I feel I am. Don’t have any constant distractions, all those things that are unconscious or not quite obvious. For the first time I feel good about myself, with who I am, I feel productive and creative. It is an extreme simplification to say it this way, but I’m comfortable ».
You seem to be describing the feeling of “being present”.
“You couldn’t have summarized it better. This is the first time that I feel present with others, that I can be relaxed, without any kind of anxiety ».
You declared a Time that when you were playing certain roles, you felt such a strong gender pressure that you had thought more than once to quit acting. How has the profession of actor changed, or is it starting to change, for you? What has opened up for you from a creative point of view?
“There was an explosion of creativity. Together with one of my best friends we wrote our first screenplay. Now I’m doing something else, I made some music with another friend. I think back to all the energy and time spent fighting that feeling of discomfort, constantly checking my body, feeling bad… As for acting, I still don’t have clear ideas. It is difficult to think that all this does not affect my way of acting, because being present is a fundamental quality of the actor, who always tries to enter a situation, to be – in fact – present and to connect to the truth of a moment. . The more I can embody who I am and exist in the body in which I want to exist, the greater the difference will be ».
I too have declared myself late, at thirty. However, I know I was a trans kid. I wasn’t born in a wrong body, I was born in a trans body.
“For every trans it’s different and my story is absolutely mine. But yes, when I was little, I was one hundred percent boy. I understood it very soon. I wrote fictional love letters and signed myself “Jason”. In every single aspect of my life, that is who I was and who I am, and who I knew I was. I didn’t understand when they said to me: “No, you are not like that. You will not be able to be even when you are older ”. You feel it. Now I’m finally starting to feel what I am, it’s beautiful and extraordinary and in some ways even painful ».
Much of my job is to reconnect with myself as a child who knew who I was, and who I had to hide or bury.
“Self-awareness hit me in waves at different ages. Now I just want to hold on to that person and keep all those passages together. ‘
According to a poll, the majority of Americans – around 70 percent, and across political parties – are against the anti-trans legislation that rages in the country. What should people do to object?
“First, find out about the laws of your state. See the website of the ACLU, of the National Center for Transgender Equality, of Transathlete. There is a lot of misinformation, a lot of lies are spread; so please don’t trust articles that reduce everything to a “trans debate” or that don’t give space to the point of view of transgender people. “
How do you hold together your new happiness as a transsexual accomplished with worries about the transphobic politics of the moment?
“One moment I feel joy and emotion, the next I feel a deep sadness reading about people who would like to deny health insurance to children for gender interventions. I want to use the strength I feel to help others. The reason you and I can enjoy the privileges we have is that there are people who have sacrificed themselves for a long time by putting everything they had at stake. How can I now show gratitude for my happiness? How can I turn it into action? Integrate those two feelings taking into account that I am a public figure: how did you do it? ».
The more challenges transsexuals face, the more I find inspiration in my own feelings of freedom and happiness. Younger people are more imaginative about what the term gender can mean, and I’m not just talking about trans guys. And then I talk to my trans friends, like you.
“I like what you said about the need for us to talk to each other. There is a lot of rhetoric, the comparison is toxic. There is a total refusal to acknowledge the existence of transsexual and transgender people ”.
Why did you choose to talk to Oprah right now?
“Because the atmosphere is hostile, the rhetoric produced by anti-trans and anti-LGTBQ activists is devastating. These laws will be responsible for the deaths of children. It’s obvious. The meeting with Oprah represented the opportunity to speak from the heart to many people about my experience and the resources that I could access – therapeutic or surgical – and that allowed me to be alive, to live my life. I had no intention
to propose myself as a model. I was pretty nervous, then I decided. The Republican party wants to destroy the lives of trans boys and girls and block the Equality Act. Why shouldn’t I have used this opportunity? “
If you could go back and say something to the child you were, or say it to a young trans person or young woman today, what would you say?
“I’d tell anyone that that’s reality. I would say to myself that I am exactly how I see and feel myself and how I have always seen and felt myself. What would you say? ».
I think I would simply say, “Don’t give up.”
“Yup. You are right. Hold on and don’t give up ».