Elliot Page has never felt more like himself.
In a new interview, the actor—who came out as transgender in 2020—talks about finding peace in his new body, and recalls the dark place he lived in for many years before he freed himself from society's expectations.
"I can’t overstate the biggest joy, which is really seeing yourself," Page tells Esquire, speaking of what he's learned since his transition.
"I know I look different to others, but to me I’m just starting to look like myself. It’s indescribable, because I’m just like, there I am. And thank God. Here I am. So the greatest joy is just being able to feel present, literally, just to be present. To go out in a group of new people and be able to engage in a way where I didn’t feel this constant sensation to flee from my body, this never-ending sensation of anxiety and nervousness and wanting out," he adds. "When I say I couldn’t have ever imagined feeling that way, I mean that with every sense of me."
Page—born Ellen Page—initially came out as gay in 2014, and says the reaction was much less cruel than when he revealed he was transitioning six years later. "Transphobia is just so, so, so extreme. The hatred and the cruelty is so much more incessant," he says.
But in many ways, he got what he expected: "love and support from many people and hatred and cruelty and vitriol from so many others."
Page, who is currently starring in Netflix series The Umbrella Academy, got his start in the film Juno, where he, as Ellen Page, played a pregnant teen, with Michael Cera as her boyfriend.
Recalling that time in his life is bittersweet for Page, as he knows that while that pushed him into the film world spotlight, it was also triggering for his mental health, as he had to play the part of a glamorous actress while internally feeling like a man.
"I can’t pinpoint a 'worst' day, but when Juno was blowing up—this sounds strange to people, and I get that people don’t understand. Oh, fuck you, you’re famous, and you have money, and you had to wear a dress, boo-hoo. I don’t not understand that reaction. But that’s mixed with: I wish people would understand that that shit literally did almost kill me," he says.
Page says he struggled with eating disorders, intense depression, anxiety, severe panic attacks, and essentially "couldn’t function." Often he would miss meetings or be unable to read or get through a script because his anxiety was so bad.
"So yeah, in my early to mid-twenties, I didn’t know how to tell people how unwell I was. I would berate myself for it. I was living the life and my dreams were coming true, and all that was happening. And yet, for example, when I was shooting Inception, I could pretty much not leave whatever hotel I’d be staying in," he adds.
Now that he has transitioned and is living the life he wants in the body he has always felt he belonged in, he wishes he would be cast in roles for cis males—like the rest of his male actor friends. "...of course I want a space where trans people are getting cast as cis characters. Of course," he says.
Since his transition, Page says he's received criticism, hatred, and even death threats, but he's also gotten reassurance and support from his loved ones, and most importantly, he finally feels like he knows who he is.
"I could not picture myself as a woman aging," he tells Esquire. "Obviously. It was just like, what is my future? There’s not a future. That’s kind of what it felt like. I would say, verbatim: 'I’ve never been a girl. I’ll never be a woman.'"
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