Elliot Page is taking back control of his life and uplifting trans people in the process.
By Brennen Beckwith, with additional reporting by Daniela “Dani” Capistrano
TransLash Media senior producer Brennen Beckwith attended the L.A. Times’ Book Club event featuring Academy Award nominee Elliot Page for a conversation about Elliot’s debut memoir “Pageboy” at The Montalbán Theatre in Los Angeles, California, on June 8, 2023. This recap features video and details from that event.
‘Pageboy’ Is Helping To Save Trans Lives
Watching Elliot Page and Mae Martin discuss “Pageboy” was like watching a conversation I have with my friends all the time. They meandered from subject to subject, got distracted, and laughed at themselves.
Endearingly, Mae had printed out notes but never referenced them. Elliot leaned into awkward silences and sometimes it seemed like they forgot the audience was even there.
It felt like I was looking in on two friends catching up at a coffee shop.
Unsurprisingly, Elliot has a lot of experience with strangers staring at him. And still, acting is a poignant career for a closeted trans person. In his book Elliot reveals the complex emotions that stem from acting as a woman: on and off camera.
Regardless of gender, there is a level of incongruence that comes from playing a character that isn’t you—but trans people in particular are intimately familiar with this experience.
As a trans man I relate to Elliot at every step of his journey; right down to his childhood crush on Disney’s Aladdin. Page’s flight of ideas writing style is like enjoying a long night of conversation, one that I’ve experienced in my own life.
The Celluloid Closet
In the best ways, “Pageboy” reminds me and others of what good representation does: it allows people to see themselves in a story, while allowing others to empathize with those they may not have understood before.
Elliot’s book peels back the curtain on Hollywood’s mistreatment of queer and trans people, his tumultuous upbringing, and what the closet looks like for someone as famous as Elliot Page.
As a child actor, Elliot was conditioned to sacrifice his bodily autonomy for the sake of the role. Strangers wrote articles speculating about his sexuality before he was even 18. He was pressured by the industry to wear dresses, have long hair, and stay in the closet.
Living under a microscope is difficult for anyone, but for a trans person it’s often a very complex nightmare.
Unfortunately, anonymity is often the only safety net we have while discovering ourselves, coming out in our own time, and transitioning on our own terms. Elliot didn’t even have that luxury; he had to navigate transness in the public eye.
In the last few years, at a time when trans people are increasingly under attack, coming out can make you the next right-wing target. But Elliot chose to come out anyway.
Page’s story has been written by other people his whole life, but writing and sharing “Pageboy” has returned control over Elliot’s own narrative to its rightful place: back to himself.
Reading Page’s story—in his own words—reminded me that all trans people deserve control over our own narratives.
With “Pageboy” Elliot is taking back control of his life and inspiring others to do the same.
Read ‘Pageboy’ & Other Banned Books By Trans Authors
“Pageboy” is one of many banned books by trans authors.
Help challenge trans censorship and allow trans people to take back their narratives by reading their work:
- “Miss Major Speaks: Conversations with a Black Trans Revolutionary” by Miss Major Griffin-Gracy and Toshio Meronek
- “Horse Barbie” by Geena Rocero
- “The T Guide” by Gigi Gorgeous, Gottmik (a.k.a Kade Gottlieb), and Swan Huntley
- “We See Each Other: A Black, Trans Journey Through TV and Film” by Tre’vell Anderson
- “Nobody Needs to Know: A Memoir” by Pidgeon Pagonis
- Read Vol. 1-6 of TransLash Zine, featuring trans voices from around the world!
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