Elliot Page has opened up in an emotional and and deeply personal interview for the first time since he revealed he's transgender last year.
The 34-year-old Oscar-nominated actor appears on the cover of Time magazine this week, and said he feels happy to have made that disclosure and to be his true self.
"[I have this] feeling of true excitement and deep gratitude to have made it to this point in my life, mixed with a lot of fear and anxiety," he said.
Elliot knows first-hand how important visibility is for transgender people, and said he wants to use his "privilege and platform to help" and make a difference in transgender people's lives.
Media representation can make a huge difference in public perception of trans people and trans issues. According to GLAAD, 80 per cent of Americans say they don't know a trans person, despite 90 per cent of Americans also saying they know someone who is lesbian, gay or bisexual.
Trans people's portrayal in film and television ties in with this, and trans people have often been portrayed inaccurately and problematically on screen, if at all. GLAAD found that in 2019, there were no movies with trans characters made by major studios. Opportunities for trans people to see themselves reflected on screen have been few and far between, though this is changing. (If you'd like to learn more about the history of how trans people have been portrayed in film and television, watch Netflix's Disclosure documentary.)
Growing up, Elliot said that like many other trans people, he had "no examples" of out transgender people. But he recalled being young and how much he wanted his hair cut short, and how affirming it was when strangers started referring to him as one.
"I felt like a boy," he said. "I wanted to be a boy. I would ask my mom if I could be someday."
This feeling of being emotionally disconnected from his body extended to his early acting days, he said.
"I just never recognized myself," Elliot continued about taking on female roles such as Juno and X-Men and seeing himself on screen. "For a long time I could not even look at a photo of myself."
The pandemic has been a time of reflection for everyone as we have had to spend extended time inside with our thoughts and feelings, and less time with others in an effort to socially distance and stop the spread of COVID-19. Many people have had huge revelations about their lives during this time and what they feel they need to change or things they'd like to do differently.
Elliot told Time the pandemic had a huge effect on his identity, too. He read a memoir about being transgender – P. Carl's Becoming a Man – and saw himself reflected in its pages.
"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," he said. "I was finally able to embrace being transgender, and letting myself fully become who I am."
As for what's next, Elliot said he's looking forward to taking on roles as a trans person. He will return as Vanya in The Umbrella Academy, Netflix revealed last year, and the new season is currently being filmed in Toronto.
"I'm really excited to act, now that I'm fully who I am, in this body," Elliot said. "No matter the challenges and difficult moments of this, nothing amounts to getting to feel how I feel now."