Well known actor Elliot Page came out as transgender on his social media as of December 1st. Elliot currently stars in the hit show “Umbrella Academy” and received major fame from the film “Juno.” This brave announcement was released on their instagram and received feedback from almost 3 million people on the account. The letter that was shared states that “I am trans, my pronouns are he/they, and my name is Elliot. I feel so lucky to be writing this.” I have looked up to actors like Elliot and many others in my coming out journey such as Dakota Johnson, Aubrey Plaza, and Brigette Lundy-Paine. Being able to see someone with the same or a similar identity positionality as me on screen has given me someone to look up to and relate to.
I also feel incredibly lucky. I may be bisexual, but I also acknowledge that I am white and straight passing. I also have a male partner. I do not regularly receive threats, cruelty, or discrimination based on my identity, like so many in the trans community do on a regular basis.
Elliot continued to acknowledge this notion in his statement: “the discrimination towards trans people is rife, insidious and cruel, resulting in horrific consequences.” He provided statistics from 2020 where at least 40 transgender people have been murdered, most of which were Black and Latinx transwomen. In addition, he mentioned that 40% of trans adults report attempting suicide.
This brings me to my most crucial point: using correct pronouns and preferred names is suicide prevention. Using proper pronouns or a preferred name for someone is such a simple act that takes no extra time or effort to do correctly and it could save someone’s life. Purposefully using the wrong pronouns, especially when you have been corrected, is a hate crime towards the transgender community and has far reaching effects, including higher rates of depression and suicide. According to the Trevor Project, 92% of those 40% of trans adults report attempting suicide before the age of 25. Before life has even truly begun. It may seem like a small bit of recognition to some, but to those who may be struggling with their identity already, it’s everything. This is the easiest way to communicate that you are an ally and see and support them.
None of us are perfect and we often make mistakes. I have been in the position before where I accidentally misgendered someone. If this happens, all you need to do is apologize and correct yourself. It may feel embarrassing but most people will meet you with grace where you meet them with effort. If you are around someone who is actively misgendering someone, it is okay to correct them and try to spark a conversation if they are resistant to the idea of using the correct pronouns. Even if you usually try to avoid confrontation, it is worth it to stick up for someone who is already marginalized and trying to advocate for themselves with little help. Acceptance, reassurance, and love can make all the difference.
Suicide is a public health issue that is an extremely personal to my own life experiences; I lost a parent to suicide in 2016. The stigma surrounding sucide kept me from speaking up and taking action for far too long. Your words can be the difference between hope and suffering, between life and death. Never underestimate the power of one conversation.
It is wonderful to have celebrities like Elliot Page speaking out and advocating for the transgender community when he has such a large platform and he urges others with an audience to do the same. It doesn’t stop with celebrities or public figures. There is work to be done to protect the lives of those in the LGBTQ+ community that starts with a conversation.
I am still learning and hope to never stop. One of my favorite insta accounts I follow for more information on these topics is @lgbt.
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