In a scene from Fleabag, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s titular character makes an impassioned speech to a hairstylist that concludes with, “Hair is everything.” Of course, it’s meant to be an overly dramatic statement made after a bad haircut—but in the very real life of a young Elliot Page, there was a time when his hair was everything. “I wanted to be a boy. I would ask my mom if I could be someday,” Page told Time magazine for a new cover story, as he recounted being nine years old and begging his mother to let him cut his hair short so that the world could see him the way he saw himself.
Page came out as transgender in December of last year and detailed his experience to Time in an interview that showed both the highs and lows of being queer and trans in the film industry. Page started acting professionally at the age of 10 and for nearly his entire career, he said he felt uncomfortable in the clothes and hair given to him for roles. Shortly after that first liberating haircut, he had to grow his hair out again in order to present as more feminine for work. He told Time that even as he got older and gained more clout from starring in films like Juno and X-Men, it was hard to “explain to people that even though [I was] an actor, just putting on a T-shirt cut for a woman would make me so unwell.”
Eventually, after Page came out as gay in 2014, he felt like he had a bit more freedom to choose his looks off-camera instead of squeezing into the standard feminine mold expected of him. “The difference in how I felt before coming out as gay to after was massive,” he told Time. “But did the discomfort in my body ever go away? No, no, no, no.”
Page said in the interview that it was all of the alone time he had during the pandemic that paved the way for him to come out and announce to the world who he had always been. He also had time to consider what coming out meant as a white affluent actor with the means to have a certain level of comfort during his transition. One such decision was to get top surgery, which Page described as a choice that “completely transformed” his life. “My privilege has allowed me to have resources to get through and to be where I am today,” Page told the magazine.
But even money can’t shield trans people from the vitriol and hatred thrown at them, which seems to be getting louder every day. Page said that though he was met with hate, he was also met with love and acceptance from his fans and his family. Surprisingly, Page has also been seeing positive reactions from his industry in the form of offers to produce, direct, and act in a few “dude roles.”
While the journey to now has clearly been inexplicably difficult for Page, it still manages to come back to the hair. It’s short once again, with a light bang framing out his face and providing a counterbalance to his perfectly set jaw. He said he’s happy with it and slowly becoming happy with his body, a sensation that every person deserves to feel but may never truly know. “No matter the challenges and difficult moments of this, nothing amounts to getting to feel how I feel now.”
Read the full interview at Time.