[June is Pride Month, and this year we're celebrating by honoring 30 LGBTQ firsts. To see the full list, visit nbcnews.com/pride30.]
When Elliot Page, the star of "Juno" and the Netflix series "The Umbrella Academy," came out as transgender in December, trans people on Twitter erupted with joy.
In an emotional letter on social media, Page announced that he is trans, that his pronouns are "he" and "they" and that he felt lucky "to have arrived at this place in my life."
"I love that I am trans. And I love that I am queer. And the more that I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive," he wrote. "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 became one of the most visible and best-known transmasculine people in the world. A few months later, in March, he became the first trans man to appear on the cover of Time magazine.
He had come out as gay in 2014, but he told Time that the "discomfort" in his body didn't go away. Before, he said, he was exhausted by just existing; now, he can fully embrace who he is.
Even though Page wrote in his letter that his coming out was "joyous," he acknowledged the backdrop of anti-trans violence and state legislation seeking to limit health care access and discrimination protections for trans people.
Last year was the deadliest year on record for anti-trans violence. At least 44 transgender people were killed, and 2021 is on track to outpace that number, with at least 27 trans people having been killed as of late May, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
A record number of bills targeting trans people were also introduced in the first few months of 2021. More than 80 bills aimed at trans people have been filed in state legislatures this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Eight states have banned trans athletes from competing on sports teams that align with their gender identities — seven of them just this year — and two states have passed laws restricting or banning trans minors from accessing gender-affirming health care.
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in April, Page said "backlash toward trans people, particularly trans youth," made it "imperative" for him to come out, despite his fear of violence and harassment.
"I don't know how to really say it other than it just feels more important than feeling scared," he said. "It feels more important than if I have an overwhelming day. It, to me, really simply feels like absolutely the right thing to do."
Since then, he has advocated against bills targeting trans youths in Florida, Alabama, Texas and North Dakota, writing on Instagram in April: "I am thinking of my trans siblings and the collective pain that our community must endure to battle again and again for our right to exist. These bills are upsetting, cruel and exhausting."
In an interview with Vanity Fair in April, he encouraged people to educate themselves about the bills in their states. "There's so much misinformation and lies, so please don't rely on news articles that frame this as a 'trans debate' or don't even include perspectives of trans people," he said. He also told Winfrey that top surgery was necessary for him and that gender-affirming care generally is lifesaving.
He said that although he feels "profound sadness" reading the news, he is also grateful that he has had the privileges to come out and access health care. He told Winfrey that he wouldn't be where he is without trans women of color like Marsha P. Johnson, who was involved in the Stonewall Uprising, or Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, a trans activist who runs House of GG, a safe haven and educational center for trans women of color.
He told Vanity Fair: "I think it's about: How can I feel grateful for my joy, and embrace my joy, and allow myself to have that joy — but then put that joy and that love into action?"
In addition to having expanded his activism, coming out has led to a "massive explosion of creativity," Page said in the interview. He and a friend wrote their first screenplay, and he's making music with another friend.
He expects that living authentically will also positively affect his acting. "I'm imagining the more I get to embody who I am and exist in the body I want to exist in, there'll be a difference," he said.