Juno star Elliot Page says that getting top surgery to remove his breasts ‘changed his life’ — and he chose to share his experience to let others know how ‘life saving’ gender-affirming surgery is for trans people.
Page, 34, sat down with Oprah for a new interview for Apple TV that’s set to debut on Friday, and in a new clip obtained by People, he reflected on his decision to reveal his top surgery in a Time magazine cover story last month.
‘I wanted to talk about it for a couple of reasons. I wanted to share with people just how much it has changed my life. And I want people to know that not only has it been life changing for me, [but] I do believe it is life saving and it’s the case for so many people,’ he said.
Page also blasted lawmakers who are spreading ‘lies’ about health care for trans youth, saying that laws that restrict their access to health care and ban them from playing sports means ‘children will die.’
Momentous: Juno star Elliot Page says that getting top surgery to remove his breasts ‘changed his life’
Important: The 34-year-old actor said that he chose to share his experience to let others know how ‘life saving’ gender-affirming surgery is for trans people
Affirming: Page revealed in March that he’d recently undergone top surgery, a subcutaneous mastectomy during which the breasts are removed in order to create a more masculine chest
In a March interview with TIME — his first after he publicly came out as transgender and non-binary in December — Page revealed that he’d recently undergone top surgery, a subcutaneous mastectomy during which the breasts and breast tissue are removed in order to create a more masculine chest.
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.
Page (pictured in 2017) said it’s been a joy ‘not having all these little moments that used to be’ fraught, like ‘just being in a T-shirt’
Speaking to Oprah in a clip shared by E! News, Page added that seeing how his body looks after the surgery has been one of the things that has brought him the ‘most joy.’
‘Getting out of the shower and the towel’s around your waist and you’re looking at yourself in the mirror and you’re just like, “There I am,”‘ he said, getting choked up. ‘And I’m not having the moment where I’m panicked. I’m not having all these little moments that used to be — just being in a T-shirt. It’s being able to touch my chest.’
He also stressed the need to demonstrate to others just how important this surgery can be — particularly ‘because there is such an attack on trans health care right now, when already there is such a lack of access or trans people who don’t even want to go to the doctor.’
Page also turned a critical eye toward lawmakers across the US who have introduced bills that would ban and criminalize gender-affirming care — like hormone therapy and puberty blockers — for trans youth.
‘What you are hearing from certain lawmakers are actual complete and utter — they’re lies,’ he said. ‘In terms of what they’re saying about the health care. And the reality of the health care is it’s supported by medical institutions and it saves live.
Page sat down with Oprah for a new interview for Apple TV set to debut Friday, and explained why it felt ‘imperative’ to speak out about ‘this horrible backlash’ against trans people
Joyful: Speaking to Oprah, Page added that seeing how his body looks after the surgery has been one of the things that has brought him the ‘most joy’
‘And if you are going to do this, and if you are also not going to allow trans kids to play sports, children will die. And it really is that simple.’
Several states across the US have introduced bills that would pose restrictions to trans people, and youth in particular — with some banning trans youth from school sports and many others forbidding gender-affirming health care.
Proposed bills in West Virginia, Utah, Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Oklahoma, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Missouri, Montana, Mississippi, Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Arizona would ban minors (or those under age 21) from accessing gender-affirming care like hormone therapy and puberty blockers.
Such a bill in Arkansas has already been passed.
Elaborating in an interview with trans journalist Thomas Page McBee for Vanity Fair, Page said: ‘These bills are going to be responsible for the death of children. It is that simple.’
‘You’re basically seeing your identity challenged constantly. It’s so much toxic dialogue and rhetoric, and complete denial of trans and gender-nonconforming people’s existence,’ he added.
‘The rhetoric coming from anti-trans activists and anti-LGBTQ activists — it’s devastating.
‘My feelings aren’t really linear. I feel emerging joy and excitement one moment, and then in the next, profound sadness reading about people wanting to take gender-affirming health care away from children,’ he went on.
He also said he feels ‘profound sadness’ about the laws that would ban hormone therapy and puberty blockers for minors, and calls the rhetoric around the issue ‘toxic’
Page has come out twice in his life — first, in 2014, as gay, and then in 2020 as trans — which has meant a lot of time spent hiding his authentic self
Page first came out to the public on Instagram on December 1, saying that his pronouns were he/they, and wrote: ‘I love that I am trans. And I love that I am queer … I can’t begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self.’
Now, speaking to Oprah, he said that he built up to that point by coming out to people close to him.
‘I was expressing this to people in my life, you know, much before posting that letter, and telling people for the first time and knowing I have wanted a moment, of course, to become comfortable in myself and to be able to kind of be able to get to that point,’ he said.
Now that he has come out, ‘on some level it feels just like the most miraculous, amazing thing — and it’s also just the experience of, “Oh, there I am.”
But another part of him has wondered, ‘Oh my god, why was that so hard? Why?’
‘Why has society made getting to this place of my life — because that’s the situation we’re facing. And yeah, it was probably driving my friends crazy, sending them profile photos of me post having top surgery and how different I felt after that and all this space,’ he said.
Page has come out twice in his life — first, in 2014, as gay, and then in 2020 as trans — which has meant a lot of time spent hiding his authentic self.
‘For me, I think, it is this time we’re in right now and especially with this horrible backlash we’re seeing toward trans people, particularly trans youth, it really felt imperative to do so,’ he went on.
‘The experience I had closeted so long… I came out as gay right before my 27th birthday and up until then I had pretty much never touched someone outside who I was in love with,’ he told Oprah.
Page (pictured in 1992 at around age five) said that even as a toddler, he ‘100%’ knew he was a boy and as a child wrote fake love letters that he’d sign ‘Jason’
‘Compromise’: Page landed his first professional acting role in Canadian TV movie-turned-show Pit Pony, for which he ‘had to look a certain way’ to play the role of a little girl (pictured)
‘And so I think any kind of sensation of feeling that again, there was just no way I could do it.
Work: The actor is set to return for the third season of Netflix show Umbrella Academy, in which he stars as queer cisgender female Vanya Hargreeves
‘And it felt important and selfish for myself and my own well being and my mental health and also with this platform I have, the privilege that I have, and knowing the pain and the difficulties the struggles I faced in my life, let alone what so many other people are facing, it absolutely felt crucial and important for me to share that,’ he said.
Page himself he knew since childhood that he was male.
‘All trans people are so different, and my story’s absolutely just my story. But yes, when I was a little kid, absolutely, 100%, I was a boy,’ he said.
‘I knew I was a boy when I was a toddler. I was writing fake love letters and signing them “Jason.” Every little aspect of my life, that is who I was, who I am, and who I knew myself to be.’
‘I just couldn’t understand when I’d be told, “No, you’re not. No, you can’t be that when you’re older,”’ he said. ‘You feel it. Now I’m finally getting myself back to feeling like who I am, and it’s so beautiful and extraordinary, and there’s a grief to it in a way.’
While Page spoke passionately about the challenges facing the trans community, he also opened up about his own experience — and how coming out led to a ‘massive explosion of creativity’ since he had previously dedicated so much energy to feeling uncomfortable and can now direct that elsewhere.
Page said coming out led to a ‘massive explosion of creativity’ since he had previously dedicated so much energy to feeling uncomfortable and can now direct that elsewhere
‘I feel lucky to be writing this’: On December 1, Page shared his news in an emotional statement posted to his social media accounts, where he also revealed his name change
‘This is the first time I’ve even felt really present with people, that I can be just really relaxed and not have an anxiety that’s always pulling.’
In his March interview with TIME, Page said he first ‘felt like a boy’ when he was nine years old and was allowed to cut his hair short for the first time.
‘I wanted to be a boy. I would ask my mom if I could be someday,’ he said.
Breakthrough: Page first found fame for starring as a pregnant teenager in the hit 2007 movie Juno, for which he earned an Oscar nomination
But just months after he cut his hair short for the first time, he 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.’
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 Page’s decision to come out.
‘She wants me to be who I am and supports me fully,’ he said. ”It is a testament to how people really change.’
As a teen, Page was not only going through difficult physical changes to his body, but was also doing so in the public eye.
After landing his first major role in Pit Pony, Page 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.
Split: The actor married dancer Emma Portner in 2018. The two quietly separated in the summer of 2020, and divorced at the start of this year
The role landed Page 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 Page 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, Page 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.
Page 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, though 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 Page publicly came out as transgender.
The actor says they ‘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.’