Yesterday in a heartfelt Instagram post, Elliot Page told the world that he is trans, and that he uses he/they pronouns. It's news that is currently blowing up the internet with countless celebrities, public figures and organisations expressing love and support for Elliot.
His post was poignant, acknowledging the relief and joy of sharing this news, allowing him to publicly celebrate his transness. They also acknowledge the difficult reality of living in a society where transphobia is still so rampant; referencing violence particularly against Black and Latinx trans women, complacent lawmakers and high rates of mental health issues among trans people. These facts are unfortunately part of the trans experience, which is why it was so important to mention them while he told the world who he is.
Elliot writes in his post, "my joy is real, but it is also fragile". These words sat with me for some time, and I realised how deeply it resonates with my own trans experience, and the experiences of my community. To be trans, still, can feel like you're operating in a world that isn't made for you. Our identities are dismissed, questioned or attacked; it's so easy to feel isolated. That's why trans representation and coming out stories can be so crucial. Yesterday my friends and chosen family were buzzing with pride and excitement. Trans communities on these days feel extra close-knit, like we're huddling together to welcome a new sibling.
I was a diehard Juno fan. I listened to the soundtrack on my iPod Classic on repeat everyday. I learned "Anyone Else But You" by the Moldy Peaches on my acoustic guitar (my 13-year-old single ass attempting to sing both vocal parts), and deeply attempted to make using Juno's vernacular my entire personality. My obsession with Elliot Page at the time was unassuming, and in retrospect (or heterospect), was in fact very homosexual. Knowing now that we are part of the same community is overwhelmingly exciting.
Since coming out as gay in 2014 (and arguably before), Elliot Page has been a huge icon in the queer community. For years, he's been an activist, a public figure, a total hottie and an inspiration to countless young people. Queer representation is absolutely improving, but even so, seeing successful folks on screen who look like us, have our experiences and happily live out and proud in queer relationships is nothing short of life-changing for so many. Elliot coming out as trans is a huge deal; as gender diverse folks are even less visible on the public stage.
The response has been widespread and overwhelmingly positive, with #Elliot trending within hours of his announcement. Celebrities have been posting their support for Elliot and the wider trans community in droves, my personal favourite being a tweet from Rahul Kohli.
Seeing the outpour of love for Elliot from public figures, LGBTIQA+ or not, is huge for gender diverse folks. It makes us feel accepted, and makes the internet feel electric; like a place we want to engage in today (so long as we don't get lost in the comments sections). It makes me hopeful that we're really on our way towards more and more support.
I had the pleasure of whispering the news to my non-binary partner yesterday morning, which immediately woke them up. We were shouting "Happy Elliot Page coming out day!" at each all day. We often speak of trans and gender diverse celebrities or icons. When our families, colleagues or people taking our coffee orders misgender us, it's nice to take solace in each other, our community, and in happy trans stories from around the globe.
Author and public speaker Nevo Zisin spoke to me about the gravity of this type of representation. "As a trans young person, seeing celebrities coming out as trans ushers in a new reality for me and others like me," they told me.
"When I came out in year 12, I barely knew any other trans people; certainly not any trans masc people, and definitely not in the media. I would have given anything at that stage for more representation. The more people that are publicly trans, the less 'other' trans young people feel and the less educational burden that falls onto our shoulders. It encourages more conversations, learnings and generally creates a society where trans existence can simply coexist with cis identities and any other combination of gender and it doesn't have to be a big thing."
For trans folks, the impact of seeing ourselves reflected positively in the media can't be understated. It connects us deeply to a huge community, helps us continue to feel pride in our identities, and we can even picture ourselves being as successful and happy as the Elliot Page's of the world. These stories being out there can even act as a catalyst for navigating difficult conversations with the people in our lives; we're able to point to celebrities and say, "See? Just like them."
Telling trans stories changes lives. It's powerful to show the world that we can exist loudly and proudly. It shows that there's a resilient and diverse community that, if you're confused about your gender identity or feeling isolated, wants to welcome you in and shower you with support.
Seeing Elliot, someone who has been a hero of mine for more than ten years, express to the world with authenticity, courage and sincerity who he is made for a wildly emotional day.
Elliot stating, "I love that I am trans. And I love that I am queer" is revolutionary. Trans folks expressing self-love and self-acceptance is an act of defiance and pride. This week in particular, my transness is one of my most treasured aspects of my identity, and I hope that with yesterday's news and beyond, Elliot can keep inspiring all trans people to feel the same.
Welcome to the family, Elliot.
Learn more about non-binary author and public speaker Nevo Zisin, who we interviewed for this story, at their website www.nevozisin.com.
Editor's Note: This article was edited to better convey the writer's experiences.
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