Since actor Elliot Page, formerly known as actress Ellen Page, came out as transgender on Tuesday, liberal activists and journalists have struggled to figure out how to refer to him.
The statement: Page, 33, known for his roles in Hollywood blockbusters “Juno” and “Inception,” announced in statement posted to Instagram and Twitter that he identifies as transgender and prefers to be called by male or gender-neutral pronouns.
- “Hi, friends. I want to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns are he/they and my name is Elliot,” he started.
- After expressing “overwhelming gratitude” and “profound” happiness, Page shared his fear and anger toward “the political leaders who work to criminalize trans health care and deny our right to exist and to all of those with a massive platform who continue to spew hostility towards the trans community.”
- “[Y]ou have blood on your hands,” he said, citing violence against transgender Americans.
- “To all the trans people who deal with harassment, self-loathing, abuse, and the threat of violence every day: I see you, I love you, and I will do everything I can to change this world for the better.”
Page — a biological female who came out as a lesbian in 2014 — last year reacted to gay actor Jussie Smollett’s apparent hate crime hoax in a lengthy TV rant against President Donald Trump’s LGBT policies.
The reaction: Page’s declaration of transgender identity was immediately cheered by his wife and fellow celebrities, including actors Alyssa Milano and Mark Ruffalo, TV host Ellen DeGeneres and musical duo Tegan and Sara.
But gay contrarian Andrew Sullivan joined other right-leaning commentators in voicing skepticism about Page’s announcement.
- Sullivan last week published an essay in his newsletter headlined “Where Have All the Lesbians Gone?: They’re coming out as nonbinary or as men.”
The mainstream media generally struck a celebratory tone in its coverage of Page’s coming out — but there was widespread confusion, conflict and condemnation over how to properly talk about Page’s gender.
- Many outlets, including The New York Times and CNN, kept Page’s previous name out of their headlines on Tuesday.
- Others, like USA Today, went a step further by entirely excluding mention of “Ellen Page” from their reporting.
- ABC News, NBC News’s Out and Fox News were among those that acknowledged the name under which Page became famous, prompting backlash for “deadnaming” him.
“Reminder: there is NEVER a reason to publish someone’s deadname,” the Transgender Journalist Association tweeted.
- “We are delighted @TheElliotPage, star of Juno & The Umbrella Academy, loves being trans & is sharing that part of himself. We urge journalists and media outlets to treat Elliot with respect & not deadname them.”
GLAAD sent news outlets a style guide on Tuesday encouraging them to avoid referring to transgender people “by their former name.”
- But the LGBT advocacy group allowed a one-time exception: “Since Elliot Page was known to the public by their prior name, it may be necessary initially to say ‘Elliot Page, formerly known as Ellen Page, …’ However, once the public has learned Page’s new name, do not continually refer to it in future stories.”
Another source of disagreement in the media was which set of Page’s preferred pronouns to use.
- Most outlets, in line with The Associated Press Stylebook, went with “he/him,” while CNN opted for “they/them.”
- The Daily Caller simply avoided using any pronouns to refer to Page.
- Page will reportedly continue to play his female role in the ongoing Netflix series.