Elliot Page’s Coming Out Breaks Barriers for the Transgender Community

Bodie Morein, Contributing Writer

Page states in their coming out letter that, “I am trans, my pronouns are he/they and my name is Elliot.” Although many articles have referred to Page as a non-binary person, it isn’t clear exactly what they identify as. People who identify within the gender binary (male and female) can use they/them pronouns, just as non-binary people can use he/him or she/her pronouns. For this reason, this article will refer to Page as a transgender person unless it is made clear by Page themself what label they use.

On Tuesday, December 1st, Juno and Umbrella Academy star Elliot Page came out as transgender in a statement posted on their Instagram and Twitter, sharing that they use he/they pronouns. Many view this as a groundbreaking moment for LGBTQ+ representation, specifically, for the trans community.

Elliot Page’s coming out has shone a light on the change in the media’s treatment of transgender identities over the last few years. Although there were a few instances of deadnaming (using a trans person’s birth name without their consent), most articles used Page’s correct name and pronouns. This is a stark contrast from when other celebrities (such as Caitlyn Jenner) came out as trans and were frequently deadnamed and misgendered. However, only hours after Page’s coming out, their name and pronouns were quickly changed to fit their identity on platforms such as Wikipedia and IMDb. While the media’s reaction was not perfect (Wikipedia deadnames Page once, as do multiple other articles), it certainly is progress. In order to keep taking steps in the right direction, we as a society must work to use trans peoples’ correct names and pronouns, respect their identities, and give them space to be who they are. 

Many view this as a groundbreaking moment for LGBTQ+ representation, specifically, for the trans community.

In the past few years, we have made great strides in accepting LGBTQ+ identities, but our work is far from finished. There is still much to do before we can be satisfied with our treatment of trans and non-binary people. Page highlights this in their coming out letter, addressing the horrific challenges that transgender people face. “The statistics are staggering. The discrimination towards trans people is rife, insidious and cruel, resulting in horrific consequences. In 2020 alone it has been reported that at least 40 transgender people have been murdered, the majority of which were Black and Latinx trans women,” they wrote. Devastatingly, this is true, as according to a report by the HRC (Human Rights Campaign), at least 41 transgender or gender-nonconforming people have been killed in 2020. This represents the highest number at this point in the year since before 2013 (the year when the HRC first began collecting data on this). Although this is an incredibly depressing statistic, hopefully as representation of trans people becomes more mainstream, these numbers will begin to fall instead of rise.

Page’s coming out is a historic moment for the representation of trans people. The organization GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) recently tweeted, “[Elliot Page] has given us fantastic characters on-screen, and has been an outspoken advocate for all LGBTQ people. Elliot will now be an inspiration to countless trans and non-binary people. We celebrate him.” This message has been echoed by many who see Page’s coming out as an important milestone. Ms. King, the advisor of Project 10 East (GSA) at CRLS, told the Register Forum, “The more famous people that are out publicly, the easier it will be for youth to feel comfortable coming out and to be accepted when they do come out.” There is a severe lack of trans and non-binary representation in most media, to the point where many people don’t know that gender identities other than male and female exist. Ms. King adds that, “While representation in the form of LGBTQ+ characters matters, [Elliot Page’s coming out] is so much more empowering because Elliot is a real human, not just a fictional character.” 

There have been some setbacks to the LGBTQ+ community, such as a third of Poland

being declared ‘LGBT-Free Zones’, or JK Rowling making transphobic comments. However, there have also been many positive events, including the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that LGBTQ+ people cannot be discriminated against in the workplace and gay marriage becoming legal in multiple countries. While there is obviously much left to accomplish in terms of LGBTQ+ rights and representation, a series of largely positive events, along with Elliot Page’s coming out, is setting a general theme of progress for the future.