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
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)
The actor said that he was encouraged to act like a girl by his mother, Martha, who is the daughter of a minister and felt that she was ‘doing what was best’ for her child by urging her to behave in a particular way. Martha is, however ‘fully supportive’ of Elliot’s decision to come out, with the actor revealing: ‘She wants me to be who I am and supports me fully.
‘It is a testament to how people really change.’
Elliot opened up about one intimate aspect of his transition during his interview, revealing that he has already undergone top surgery, and was in fact recovering from the procedure when he publicly came out as transgender.
New look: The actor unveiled a short new haircut on the cover of TIME, and he tearfully revealed that it took him time to work up the courage to embrace the style, but that he ‘could not have enjoyed [the haircut] more’
The actor said that the results of the procedure have ‘completely transformed his life’ and helped him feel like his true self for the first time since he endured the ‘total hell’ of puberty earlier on in his life.
As a teen, Elliot was not only going through difficult physical changes to his body, he was also doing so in the public eye.
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: Days of Future Past and Inception – in which he starred alongside Leonardo DiCaprio – followed.
But Elliot now says that all of the trappings of that fame, including glamorous 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.
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’
Speaking out: Elliot came out as transgender and non-binary in December, and in his TIME interview, he revealed that he has undergone top surgery
Split: The actor came out as gay in 2014, and in 2018 married dancer Emma Portner, however the two quietly separated in the summer of 2020, and divorced at the start of this year
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 publicly came out as transgender.
The actor says the former couple ‘remain close friends’ and Emma voiced her public support for her ex on Instagram after he shared his news at the end of last year, writing: ‘I am so proud of @elliotpage… Shine on sweet E. Love you so much.’
Battle: Despite achieving huge on-screen success, with roles in major movies like X-Men (pictured) and Inception, Elliot says he was struggling with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks behind the scenes
In his interview with TIME, the actor did not reveal details of their split, and did not share what caused their separation, which happened a few months before Elliot publicly came out.
However, Elliot revealed that quarantining during the pandemic helped him to make the decision to come out, explaining that the time in isolation gave him ‘a lot of time… to really focus on things that I think… unconsciously, I was avoiding’.
‘I was finally able to embrace being transgender, and letting myself fully become who I am,’ he said.
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.’
‘I feel lucky to be writing this’: On December 1, Elliot shared his news in an emotional statement posted to his social media accounts, where he also revealed his name change
Support: Elliot’s mother Martha (pictured with the actor and his father in 2008) has been fully supportive of his transition. ‘She wants me to be who I am,’ he explained
Elliot told TIME that his transition and non-binary identity is a ‘complicated journey and an ongoing process’; according to the writer, he referred to himself as a ‘transgender guy’ during the interview ‘repeatedly’, although
Although Elliot shot to global fame when he starred as the titular character in hit indie flick Juno in 2007, he has 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.
Work: The actor is currently filming the third season of Netflix show Umbrella Academy, in which he stars as queer cisgender female Vanya Hargreeves
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.’
Speaking to TIME, Umbrella Academy’s showrunner Steve Blackman said that Elliot appears to have had a ‘tremendous weight’ lifted from his shoulders since coming out as transgender, explaining that there is ‘a lot more lightness’ and ‘smiling’ from the actor on set.
Elliot admits that it has been an ‘adjustment’ for him and the cast and crew in light of his transition, but he added that he is ‘excited’ for this and future acting roles now that he has fully embraced his true gender identity.
It seems he will certainly have plenty of opportunity to relish in that excitement, with the actor’s team revealing that they have been inundated with opportunities since he came out, from acting roles to directing and production. According to Elliot, he has been approached both with transgender-focused projects, and several ‘dude roles’.