Transgender actor Elliot Page has revealed that he knew he ‘wanted to be a boy’ when he was just nine years old – but says he had to ‘compromise’ his true gender identity in order to pursue a career as a child actor.
The 34-year-old is now speaking out about his decades-long struggle with his gender in a new interview with TIME – his first since he made the decision to publicly come out as transgender and non-binary in December – admitting that he felt that he had to hide his gender in order to achieve success in Hollywood.
Elliot, who also shared that he has undergone top surgery, says he first ‘felt like a boy’ when he was nine years old and was allowed to cut his hair short for the first time, recalling: ‘I felt like a boy. I wanted to be a boy. I would ask my mom if I could be someday.’
But just months after he was allowed to cut his hair short for the first time, Elliot landed his first professional acting job in Canadian TV movie Pit Pony, which required him to look and act like a stereotypical little girl, forcing him to grow his hair out again.
‘I became a professional actor at the age of 10 and pursuing that passion came with a difficult compromise,’ he shared. ‘Of course I had to look a certain way.’
Speaking out: Transgender star Elliot Page has revealed he knew he ‘wanted to be a boy’ when he was just nine years old but had to ‘compromise’ his true gender to become a child actor
Stardom: The 34-year-old, who publicly came out as transgender in December, shot to global fame while starring in hit 2007 movie Juno, but says at the time he ‘never recognized himself’
‘Compromise’: Elliot landed his first professional acting role in Canadian TV movie-turned-hit show Pit Pony, for which he ‘had to look a certain way’ to play the role of a little girl (pictured)
After landing his first major role in Pit Pony, Elliot went on to star in several independent movies and TV shows, before shooting to global stardom in the hit 2007 movie Juno, in which he played the part of a pregnant teenager.
The role landed Elliot an Oscar nomination for Best Actress and saw him hailed as one of the brightest young stars in Hollywood. Major movie roles in X-Men: The Last Stand and Inception – in which he starred alongside Leonardo DiCaprio – followed.
But Elliot now says that all of the trappings of that success, including red carpet appearances and magazine spreads, led to serious mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and panic attacks.
‘I just never recognized myself,’ he said. ‘For a long time I could not even look at a photo of myself.
‘[I didn’t know] how to explain to people that even though [I was] an actor, just putting on a T-shirt [that was] cut for a woman would make me so unwell.’
Despite his on-screen success Elliot admits he seriously considered quitting the industry altogether because of the distress he felt at being forced to fit a specific Hollywood stereotype while appearing on the red carpet and shooting magazine covers.
Elliot came out publicly as gay in 2014 in an emotional speech at the Human Rights Campaign’s Time to Thrive conference for LGTBQ youth, saying at the time that he hoped the the news would help others struggling with their sexuality: ‘I’m here today because I am gay. And because maybe I can make a difference.’
Four years later, he married dancer Emma Portner, however the pair quietly separated in the summer of 2020, and divorced at the start of this year. The news of their split was not revealed until after Elliot came out as transgender.
Elliot says they ‘remain close friends’ and Emma voiced her public support for her ex on Instagram after he shared his news, writing: ‘I am so proud of @elliotpage… Shine on sweet E. Love you so much.’
Struggles: The actor, pictured in 1992 at around age five, landed his first professional acting role at age 10, and says ‘pursuing that passion came with a difficult compromise’
Elliot made the decision to come out publicly as transgender in December, after spending months in quarantine ‘focusing’ on his gender identity.
He shared the news in an emotional statement on December 1, writing: ‘Hi friends, I want to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns are he/they and my name is Elliot.
‘I feel lucky to be writing this. To have arrived at this place in my life.’
At the time, Elliot asked his followers and fans for ‘patience’, admitting that he was ‘scared’ of the ‘invasiveness, the hate, the jokes, and of the violence’ in the wake of his announcement.
‘My job is real, but it is also fragile,’ the actor said, adding: ‘The truth is, despite feeling profoundly happy right now and knowing how much privilege I carry, I am also scared.’
In November 2017, Elliot accused X-Men director Brett Ratner of outing them as gay on set, when the actor was just 18.
The Juno actor made the allegations in a lengthy Facebook post, in which they also revealed that they had been fondled by a director and sexually assaulted by a crew member when they were 16.
According to Elliot, Ratner outed them during a cast and crew meet-and-greet for X-Men: The Last Stand, where he urged a woman to have sex with the actor.
Split: Elliot came out as gay in 2014, and in 2018 he married dancer Emma Portner, however the two quietly separated in the summer of 2020, and divorced at the start of this year
‘He looked at a woman standing next to me, ten years my senior, pointed to me and said: “You should f*** her to make her realize she’s gay,”‘ Elliot claimed.
‘I was a young adult who had not yet come out to myself. I knew I was gay, but did not know, so to speak. I felt violated when this happened.’
They continued: ‘He “outed” me with no regard for my well-being, an act we all recognize as homophobic.
‘…This public, aggressive outing left me with long standing feelings of shame, one of the most destructive results of homophobia.’
Although Elliot shot to global fame when they starred as the titular character in hit indie flick Juno in 2007, they have since gone on to achieve huge success on the big and small screens, most recently as one of the main stars of Netflix series Umbrella Academy.
The actor is currently filming the third series of the show in Canada, after producers confirmed that they would continue playing the role of female violinist Vanya Hargreaves.
In the second season of the show, Vanya fell in love with a woman, and Elliot praised the decision to explore the character’s queerness in an interview with Pride, saying: ‘…Getting to play her falling in love for the first time and the beauty of that and the joy of that and then hoping to be mindful and sensitive in terms of how to represent the other aspects and mostly, I’m just happy that a storyline like this is in a show that has the reach that it does.’