Turnabout coming-out


Earlier this month, actor Elliot Page, who portrays Vanya Hargrees in Netflix’s popular show “The Umbrella Academy,” came out as transgender via Twitter. With the news, an outpouring of reprehensible discourse stirred online, labeling Page’s coming-out as an act of lesbian erasure and an attention-grabbing move.

With the announcement of his identity, some individuals claimed that the WLW (women-loving women) community had “lost a lesbian,” which is an atrocious outlook. Although this is only a slim margin of the community, their words still hold condemnation. This group claims to feel betrayed that their role model no longer considers himself a WLW, yet the actor isn’t obligated to ignore his identity in order to please others.

There is also another group of people who suggest that Page came out as trans as an attempt to stay relevant. They say this in spite of him literally being an Oscar-nominated actor (for 2007’s “Juno”) who stars in a hit series. 

Those who make these ridiculous claims don’t seem to understand that the exploration of one’s gender and sexual orientation is a difficult journey, and not one that people take lightly. On Twitter, many are claiming Page is confused and in denial of being lesbian because of compulsive heterosexuality: the idea that heterosexuality is seen as the default orientation. In their eyes, the 33-year-old Page only thinks he’s male because he’s attracted to women, which according to the ideas of compulsive heterosexuality, would make him a man. They believe this in ignorance of his personal experiences, and have gone so far as to misgender him and refer to him by his birth name. 

This view is convoluted, as that was a different point in time. While Page used to be an icon in the lesbian community, now he can be an role model for transmasculine people. Page coming out should be considered a win for the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, not as the loss of a prominent lesbian figure. 

Others have criticized Page because they do not think that he should continue to play Vanya in “The Umbrella Academy.” They argue  that it is morally incorrect for Page to continue to portray Vanya, a canonical lesbian in the show, becase he now identifies as male. This is a poor way to view the situation, since many cisgender actors have played transgender actors in the past, including Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl.” There have been other instances of actors playing a character with a different sexuality from their own, so Page continuing to portray Vanya is  not  an issue, nor should it be seen as an act of lesbian erasure.

Though, all of this is not to say that his coming out hasn’t been well received as a whole. Overwhelming, the transphobic statements were messages of love and support. Coming out on such a large platform takes courage, and Page not only took the care to explain his situation, but he also highlighted the struggles that transgender people face. 

With Page’s platform, it’s safe to say that he can shed light on transgender issues, and, because he is a high-profile actor, educate people with his words.