Actor Elliot Page has revealed how much happier he feels after having top surgery, and described transitioning as “life-saving”.
“I want people to know that not only has it been life-changing for me, I do believe it is life-saving and it’s the case for so many people,” the actor told Oprah Winfrey on her new show for Apple TV+.
During the interview, Page teared up when Winfrey asked him what has brought him the most joy.
The Oscar-nominated star of Juno, Inception and The Umbrella Academy said it was the little things – like wearing a T-shirt, having a towel around his waist after a shower or touching his chest – that made him “feel comfortable in my body for probably the first time”, looking in the mirror and thinking “Oh, there I am.”
Page said the surgery has given him newfound energy “because it it such a freeing, freeing experience”, adding: “This is incredibly new. I feel like I haven’t gotten to be myself since I was 10 years old.”
He said he has written his first screenplay is enjoying an “explosion of creativity” after so many years of anxiety, mental health pain and avoiding exploring his identity.
Page described the anguish at being obliged to parade in gowns and a feminine appearance when Juno became a huge hit.
Coming out as gay in 2014 “did relieve some stuff for me, I was extremely closeted all through my 20s … but the discomfort with my body didn’t go away,” he said, explaining that sexual orientation and gender identity are “completely different things”.
He and Oprah discussed how many transgender people do not have surgery to change their bodies, or take hormones, or even want to talk about their transition.
But Page was the first transgender man to be the sole cover figure of Time magazine, and talked about his surgery, and now was doing his first television interview, pointing out that: “My ability to be sitting here now is because of so many trans women of color who put their lives on the line” over the decades.
The full interview from The Oprah Conversation was released on Friday.
Page urged officials to support healthcare for transgender people and allow them access to sports. Republican lawmakers across the US are seeking to curtail gender-affirming care and punish doctors who deliver it, as well as banning trans youth from playing sports.
“Children will die,” Page said. “And it really is that simple.”
This week, state legislators in Florida rushed through a bill that would ban trans women and girls from participating in school sports. Critics described the move as “cruel and horrific”.
Winfrey pointed out that there are a record 82 pieces of anti-trans legislation being considered in more than two dozen US states.
Page said he thought such moves by conservative Republicans are part of a backlash against the growing visibility of transgender people, using them as political pawns while opposing the Equality Act to provide federal protections for LGBTQ people.
“Some people want to erase trans people,” he said.
Page came out as trans in December, an announcement that was widely greeted as a watershed moment for the trans community in Hollywood. He told Winfrey the decision was “imperative” in light of the violence against trans youth.
“It felt important and selfish for myself and my own wellbeing and my mental health,” he said. “And also with this platform I have, the privilege that I have, and knowing the pain and the difficulties and the struggles I’ve faced in my life, let alone what so many other people are facing, it absolutely felt crucial and important for me to share that.”