Elliot Page shares ‘vivid’ memory of childhood gender euphoria before ‘total hell’ of puberty
Elliot Page shared with Oprah Winfrey a gender euphoric memory of wearing swimming trunks as a kid that he remembers “vividly”.
They were 10 or younger and at a friends house in the summer when a blow-up swimming pool was erected in the garden. Without his bathing suit, his friend’s mum lent him a pair of swimming trunks. Even today, Elliot Page smiles recalling the gender euphoria they felt in that moment.
Speaking to Oprah in his first TV interview since coming out as trans, the Umbrella Academy actor described his evolving understanding of his gender from that early memory and then the “total hell” of puberty to spending time sitting with himself in lockdown and finally figuring things out.
Elliot Page told Oprah they “could not look at a photo of that red carpet” when they were nominated for an Oscar in 2007 for Juno, saying that wearing a dress and having to present as feminine made them “unwell”.
Three years later, while promoting Inception, he “lost it” at the premiere. “At the after party, I collapsed,” Elliot told Oprah. “That was something that’s happened frequently in my life, usually correlating to a panic attack.”
Describing presenting as the wrong gender as living with a “white noise”, expending huge amounts of emotional energy just to exist, Elliot said it comes down to “every single aspect of who we are… constantly being put in a box in a very binary system”.
Asked by Oprah if he knew he was trans at the time, or why he became so upset at having to wear dresses, Elliot said: “I was not ready. I wasn’t ready.”
“For so long I didn’t have much language or information,” they said. “As a teenager, that wasn’t part of my life. I know there were periods in my life when it would come up, like ‘I’m trans’. Like when I was reading [Janet Mock’s autobiography] Redefining Realness. And it was as if I took the thought and shoved it away.”
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They also said that coming out as gay at 27 “relieved a lot for me”.
“I’d been extremely closeted through my twenties,” Elliot Page told Oprah. “For the first time ever I could love someone in public or talk about a partner on set… but the discomfort in my body did not go away.”
“There were periods where I barely was existing… periods where I didn’t want to leave my apartment, it was really hard for me to be social with people. It felt impossible to read a script. And you don’t know why, and you don’t know how to express it.”
Since coming out, Elliot Page has used his platform to advocate for trans communities and direct people to fight back against a Republican wave of anti-trans bills.