Elliot Page, Oscar-nominated star of Umbrella Academy, speaks out about being transgender

By GLAAD |
December 1, 2020

Today, Elliot Page, Oscar-nominated star of Umbrella Academy, spoke out about being transgender and non-binary on Instagram:


“Elliot Page has given us fantastic characters on-screen, and has been an outspoken advocate for all LGBTQ people,” said Nick Adams, GLAAD’s Director of Transgender Media. “He will now be an inspiration to countless trans and non-binary people. All transgender people deserve the chance to be ourselves and to be accepted for who we are. We celebrate the remarkable Elliot Page today.”


GLAAD also released a tip sheet for journalists covering the story:

The following style guide provided by GLAAD is designed to help you create respectful and accurate coverage, while avoiding common mistakes and clichés, around Elliot Page’s decision to live publicly as their authentic self. Please read thoroughly and respect the language and terminology guidelines below.

For a more extensive Reference Guide on covering transgender issues, please visit glaad.org/reference/transgender. For additional resources visit glaad.org/transgender. 

  • DO describe people who transition as transgender, and use transgender as an adjective. Elliot Page is a transgender person. DON'T use transgender as a noun: "Elliot Page is a transgender". DON'T use "transgendered." Transgender never needs an extraneous "-ed" at the end. DON’T use "transsexual" or "transvestite."
  • DO describe Elliot Page as a non-binary, transgender person. Both transgender and non-binary are umbrella terms that describe many different types of experiences. In Page's case, it can be used like this: "Elliot Page describes themself as transgender and non-binary, meaning that their gender identity is neither man nor woman."
  • DO refer to Elliot Page's gender identity being non-binary, not his sexual orientation. Gender identity is one's own internal, deeply held sense of one's own gender. Sexual orientation is who one is attracted to. They are not the same thing and should not be conflated or confused.
  • DO refer to them as Elliot Page. DON’T refer to them by their former name. He has changed it, and should be accorded the same respect received by anyone who has changed their name. 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.
  • DO use he/they pronouns when referring to Elliot Page. This means you can use either he/him or they/them pronouns to refer to Elliot. Both pronouns are acceptable. If you need to explain this to your audience, you can include a sentence that says "Elliot Page uses both he/him and they/them pronouns; this story will use he/him when referring to Page."
  • DON'T use she/her pronouns to describe Elliot Page, even when referring to events in their past. Simply use their current name and pronouns. For example, "Elliot Page began their career as a child actor before their breakout performances in Hard Candy and Juno."
  • AVOID the phrase "born a woman" when referring to Page. If it is necessary to describe for your audience what it means to be transgender, consider: "Elliot Page was designated as female on his birth certificate, but is now living as his authentic self."
  • DON'T speculate about medical procedures transgender people may or may not choose to undertake as part of their transition. This is private medical information, and a transgender identity is not dependent on medical procedures. Overemphasizing the medical aspects of a person's transition objectifies transgender people, and prevents the public from seeing the transgender person as a whole person.
  • DON'T imply that someone who discloses that they are transgender was lying or being deceptive because they chose to keep that information private. Transgender people face extremely high rates of family rejection, employment and housing discrimination, and physical violence. Every transgender person has to prepare to face the possible consequences of transitioning to live as their authentic self. That caution does not mean that they were deceptive or lying. It simply means they felt it necessary to keep their authentic self private until they were safely able to disclose it to others.
  • DON'T indulge in superficial critiques of a transgender person's femininity or masculinity. There is no one way to "look" transgender or non-binary. Transgender people can have a range of gender expressions, just like cisgender people. How a person chooses to express their gender through their hair, clothing, make-up, jewelry, etc. is their own personal decision and doesn't change their gender identity.

Updated December 4, 2020

In a Yahoo story by Beth Greenfield published on Wednesday, December 2, 2020, Elliot Page's representative issued further clarification regarding the use of Elliot's prior name: 

The extensive guide — which Page signed off on, according to his longtime manager, and shared to his Instagram story —notes that all situations are different, particularly when it comes to celebrities who have long been in the public eye.

Regarding that guidance, Page's manager tells Yahoo Life, "Elliot affirms the right of each trans person to decide how their prior name is used. The style guide released yesterday reflects Elliot's feelings about seeing their prior name used in association with yesterday's announcement only. Elliot agrees that no one should use a transgender person's birth name without their explicit permission, in any media format or on social media. Respecting trans people involves respecting their chosen names and pronouns while understanding the use of a birth name without express permission is harmful and inappropriate."

Further, she adds, "Stories referring to Elliot Page prior to his name and pronoun change should always reference his chosen name and pronouns and, where helpful, include an update linking to a story about Elliot's chosen name and pronouns. Elliot feels, as is his prerogative, that there is no need for old stories to be rewritten to remove his prior name, however he stresses that any use of his birth name moving forward is strictly inappropriate."