In 'Pageboy,' excerpted here exclusively, Page traces his path from Canadian child star to Oscar nominee for 'Juno' to a proud trans man. “I feel the best I’ve ever felt,” he says
Elliot Page's much anticipated memoir, Pageboy, will be released on June 6. It’s a deeply personal story which promises to discuss Page's relationship with his body, his experiences as one of the most famous trans people in the world, and will cover mental health, assault, love, relationships, sex, and the cesspool that Hollywood can be.
Page, 36, admits to being a little nervous. “Slightly overwhelmed!” he says with a laugh. “But grateful.”
“I didn't think I could write a book,” Page tells PEOPLE exclusively. “Books, particularly memoirs, have really shifted my life, offered me inspiration, comfort, been humbling, all of those things. And I think this period of not just hate, of course, but misinformation or just blatant lies about LGTBQ+ lives, about our healthcare, it felt like the right time. Trans and queer stories are so often picked apart, or worse, universalized. So the first chapter of Pageboy” — excerpted below — “I just sat down, and it came out and I just didn't stop. I just kept writing.”
Page knows his own personal experience is not that of most in his community. “My experience as a trans person and this life I have, and the privilege I have does not represent the reality of most trans lives.” Nevertheless, representation and visibility are important, he says. “I think it's crucial, I think we need to feel represented and see ourselves, you know, that's not something I had like as a kid. The reality is, trans people disproportionately are unemployed, disproportionately experience homelessness. Trans women of color are being murdered. People are losing their healthcare or couldn't access it.”
But to be clear, it’s not like Page’s journey has been easy. “There's obviously been very difficult moments. I do feel like I kind of barely made it in many ways. But today, I'm just me and grateful to be here and alive and taking one step at a time.”
And, as his fans can remember, his fame really began with a little movie in 2007 called Juno — and at the same time he was privately navigating his identity.
Here is Page’s first chapter.
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I met Paula when I was twenty. Sitting on our friend’s couch, eating raw almonds with her knees to her chest, she introduced herself, “I’m Paula.” The sound of her voice radiated warmth, a kindness. It wasn’t so much that her eyes lit up but that they found you. I could feel her looking. We went to Reflections. It was the first time I had been to a gay bar and would be my last for a long time. I was a miserable flirter.
Flirting when I didn’t mean to and not when I wanted to. We stood close, but not too close. The air so thick, I was swimming in it. That summer we took a friend’s boat to an empty island to camp. We did mushrooms around fires and cooked salmon wrapped in tinfoil. Stars pulsating, reaching, as if forming sentences. Mush- rooms always made me cry, but she loved them, eventually my anxious tears turned to joy. I envied the self-assurance in her body. We danced on the beach. A guitar was being strummed, we took turns playing shitty covers.
I had just returned from a monthlong trip in Eastern Europe, backpacking with my childhood best friend, Mark. We began in Prague and took the train to Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, and Bucharest. We stayed in hostels, except for one day in Bucharest when Mark was so ill that we got a hotel room with air-conditioning. I bought individually wrapped cheese slices from the store and put them in the small freezer of the small hotel room’s small fridge. We waited as they became cold, and I pressed damp cloths on the back of his neck and along his spine. When the cheese slices were frozen. I placed them all over Mark’s body, and that seemed to help a bit. The room had a Jacuzzi, and we sat in it without filling it up and flipped through the television channels, landing on a porno that incidentally also took place in a Jacuzzi. Mark ate the cheese.
This was before smartphones. Navigating trains, hostels, men, all with one guidebook. We would go to internet cafés to send a message home. “Hey, we are alive.” I would email Paula, yearning for her. I thought about her incessantly—while we railed through Austria, looking at a sea of sunflowers; while I drank blueberry beer in a basement in Belgrade, lips purple, head spinning, like the last time we kissed, which was the first time; on a twelve-hour train ride from Belgrade to Bucharest during one of the worst heat waves in decades. Mark and I lay next to each other on the same bunk, window down with our heads as close to the opening as we could manage. There was no air-conditioning, and we had no water. We listened to Cat Power through shared earphones and sipped absinthe. Are you listening to it at the same time? The CD I made you? I wondered, almost saying the words out loud. I watched the night pass by, the Serbian landscape, rural, motionless with its sparse, fleeting lights. I thought of Paula.
That time at Reflections was new for me, being in a queer space and being present, enjoying it. Shame had been drilled into my bones since I was my tiniest self, and I struggled to rid my body of that old toxic and erosive marrow. But there was a joy in the room, it lifted me, forced a reaction in the jaw, an uncontrolled, steady smile. Dancing, sweat dripping down my back, down my chest. I watched Paula’s hair twist and bounce as she moved effortlessly, chaotic but controlled, sensual and strong. I would catch her looking at me, or was it the other way around? We wanted to be caught. Deer in the headlights. Startled, but not breaking.
“Can I kiss you?” I asked, jolted by my boldness, as if it came from somewhere else, powered by the electronic music perhaps, a circuit of release, of demanding you leave your repression at the door. And then I did. In a queer bar. In front of everyone around us. I was coming to understand what all those poems were about, what all the fuss was. Everything was cold before, motionless, emotionless. Any woman I had loved hadn’t loved me back, and the one who maybe had, loved me the wrong way. But here I was, on a dance floor with a woman who wanted to kiss me and the antagonizing, cruel voice that flooded my head whenever I felt desire was silent. Maybe for a second, I could allow myself pleasure. We leaned in so our lips brushed, the tips of our tongues barely touching, testing, sending shocks through my limbs. We stared at each other, a quiet knowing. Here I was on the precipice. Getting closer to my desires, my dreams, me, without the unbearable weight of the self-disgust I’d carried for so long. But a lot can change in a few months. And in a few months, Juno would premiere.
Pageboy publishes June 6.
Page's tour begins June 6, publication day, in New York City, then heads to Los Angeles for an event on June 8. He'll then be in San Francisco June 10; Madison, Wisconsin, June 12; and wraps up the tour on June 14 in Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, June 6 – Town Hall, New York City
Thursday, June 8 – Los Angeles Times Book Club at Montalbán Theatre, Los Angeles
Saturday, June 10 – City Arts & Lectures at the Sydney Goldstein Theater, San Francisco
Monday, June 12 – Room of One's Own at Barrymore Theatre, Madison, Wisconsin
Wednesday, June 14 – Sixth & I, Washington, D.C.
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