In the first chapter of Elliot Page’s memoir, Page boy, he writes about visiting a gay bar for the first time. He was 20 years old; it was the summer before 2007 Juno premiered about a decade and a half before coming out as transgender. “Shame had been drilled into my bones since I was my smallest self, and I struggled to rid my body of that old toxic and erosive marrow,” Page writes. “But there was a joy in the room. It lifted me up, forced a reaction in the jaw, an uncontrolled, steady smile.” Page never thought he’d write a book, but when the opportunity (and confidence) presented itself, the words flowed.
“I have this new ability to literally sit with myself and make things,” Page shared THR via Zoom a few weeks before the memoir hit shelves. “I could never do that (coming out) before.”
The memoir follows pivotal moments in the actor’s life, from his childhood (in Nova Scotia) and a successful and tumultuous entrance into Hollywood to his coming out as gay, and later trans, on a public stage. “As you can see, I’m a little nervous,” he says with a laugh. “But it’s exciting and meaningful that people can connect with elements of my journey. I realize that ‘Oh, maybe people will read this book.’ In his own words, Page describes what it was like to tell his story and what he learned after working with the creative team of Flatliners pressured him to perform a dangerous stunt.
You write candidly about the ways that coming out has — for a time — broken your relationship with your mother. Was that a difficult decision?
The journey with my mom felt important to share because so many gay and trans people have a similar experience. But the experience of writing those moments helped my mom and I grow closer together.
As you reflect on some of the bad experiences you’ve had on set, can you see a turning point for yourself?
Well, I’ve been in a lot of horrible situations, with toxic, abusive people doing things openly (on set) for all to see. And then you say something about it and you end up being the one who gets reprimanded. And maybe this is just top of mind because I wrote about it, but making my time Flatliners (2017) is probably the moment where I thought, “Absolutely not.” I’m in a place right now where I won’t put up with anything, but I’m also in a position on the set I’m working on (Umbrella Academy) where people won’t try to fuck me. However, that doesn’t mean the behavior has gone away. I always feel protective when there are young people on set.
How does the current wave of anti-trans legislation change the stakes for publishing this book?
It’s interesting timing. Our lives and bodies have always been politicized, but we are in a much scarier time. But it’s important for me to say that this is just my story. I don’t represent the bulk of the trans experience – I have privileges and resources and access to health care. And even with that, what I’ve been through isn’t easy.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
A version of this story appears in the June 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.