Elliot Page says time in Nova Scotia during pandemic allowed him to look inward

·2 min read

TORONTO — Elliot Page says time spent alone in Nova Scotia during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic allowed him to connect with his body and open the door to recognizing he was a transgender man.

The Halifax-born actor told Oprah Winfrey in a one-on-one interview that being forced to step away from the entertainment industry during a widespread shutdown allowed him to "fully listen" to himself.

"It was probably the first time in my life where I really felt comfortable and OK alone," said the 34-year-old actor who came out publicly as transgender last December.

"It used to be incredibly difficult for me to even just sit with myself.... I think I realized getting into that space and surrounded by nature more it was almost like steps into relaxation."

Page spoke with Winfrey as part of her "The Oprah Conversation" interview series on the Apple TV Plus streaming service. The conversation, which premiered Friday, was recorded with Page in Toronto and Winfrey in Hawaii, with the footage stitched together so they appear to be in the same room.

Throughout the nearly 50-minute interview, Page reflected on growing up with "a very binary system" of gender standards that only intensified with the stardom of Hollywood. He said he felt "profound discomfort and disconnection with my body" around the time of puberty and that worsened as Page was tossed into the Oscar campaign for the hit film "Juno."

"I remember it felt so impossible to communicate with people how unwell I was because obviously there is so much excitement," he said.

"The film unexpectedly became a big hit, I became quite known ... all these things and I felt I couldn’t express the degree of pain that I was in."

Page said he feels a responsibility to use his platform to speak out against "devastating" rhetoric coming from anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ activists.

In the United States, bills targeting the rights of transgender youth are being introduced in parts of the country, spanning issues including medical care and school sports.

He emphasized the importance of health care support for the trans community, saying that he feels happier now that he's had top surgery.

"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," he said.

Asked what he'd like to tell young trans people as they face an onslaught of anti-trans rhetoric, Page said he wanted to tell them, "I see them. That they exist. That they are real."

"I just want kids to know that they’re loved," he said.

"And I’m going to continue to do what I can to try and help this society shift how it treats transgender people."

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 30, 2021.

David Friend, The Canadian Press