Recognising Elliot Page

Dan – QueerTheNorm Team

07/12/2020

“I can’t begin to express how remarkable it is to be able to love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self” – Elliot Page

Netflix has changed how he appears in the credits of his works on their platform to reflect his identity, though a number of publications have failed to grasp the basics of respecting someone when reporting their coming out, so here is a quick guide:

  • Do not use someone’s birth name.

There are many ways to ensure an audience understands who you are talking about that are not disrespectful and hurtful to trans people. And yes, this applies regardless of disability. Include a picture, link to their social media, and list notable works. If someone still doesn’t recognise them from this information, their coming out will be irrelevant to them anyway.

  • The same goes for someone’s pronouns.

The phrase ‘her pronouns are they/them’ is not just disrespectful, it’s inaccurate and does not make grammatical sense. It needs to be eradicated from public consciousness yesterday. People will still understand who you are talking about, and how they are transitioning if that is information they have chosen to disclose at all, as pronouns do not indicate a person’s gender.

  • Don’t make assumptions.

Do not assume their gender identity unless they have disclosed that information. Just because someone previously assumed to be a woman has come out as trans, does not mean they are a man. Just because someone uses they/them pronouns, doesn’t mean they are non-binary. Someone’s gender also does not inform their sexuality, and both asking and speculating on this subject is incredibly rude as it is intrusive prodding of someone’s personal relationships which are not up for debate and, frankly,  none of your business.

Since this news, some people have also questioned why Eliot Page will continue to play the character, Vanya Hargreaves, in The Umbrella Academy under the assumption that this will now be a man playing a cisgender woman on-screen – although it must be noted that Eliot has never identified himself as a man. I’d remind them of Shakespeare’s original productions but these same people have no problem with cisgender men playing trans women or cisgender women playing trans men, so seemingly their problem is with trans people appearing on screen at all.

This is not the only form of transphobia to be seen either – TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists) have been outraged at the ‘loss’ of another lesbian role-model. This is a ridiculous notion, perpetuated by people like J. K. Rowling, that trans men and some non-binary people are lesbians who have identified otherwise to escape homophobia and sexism, and that trans representation is therefore directly taking away from lesbian representation. As if trans men don’t experience a significantly higher rate of intimate partner violence, suicide, and verbal, physical and sexual assault than cis women according to the few reports to be published on violence experienced by transgender people.

As always, transphobia makes up a vocal minority of negativity and the focus should be on educating those who are well-intentioned, as there has been an overwhelming outpouring of love and support for Elliot Page since their coming out. It is an affirming and joyous occasion and we are privileged to share it with him.

2015 US Transgender Survey

CDC National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey

ADVOCATE – Trans men experience far more violence than people assume

Dan is available on twitter @Danthetransman

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