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Elliot Page Gives Heartfelt Advice to Youths at National Book Festival

Elliot Page Gives Heartfelt Advice to Youths at National Book Festival

A transgender child talking to Elliott Page and Gina Chua and Elliot Page

The transgender actor gave some heartfelt advice to gender nonconforming youth during a talk at the Library of Congress National Book Festival.

Tens of thousands of people streamed through the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest Washington, D.C., on Saturday to attend the 2023 Library of Congress National Book Festival. Many authors were on hand to speak to crowds on several stages at the venue. One of the most popular talks featured actor Elliot Page, whose memoir Pageboy discusses his life and transition.

More than 2,200 people gathered to listen to the talk, a Library of Congress spokesperson told The Advocate.

During an hour-long conversation, the interviewer, Semafor executive editor Gina Chua, and the Academy Award nominee discussed their shared experience as transgender people in the public eye.

After an introduction by the Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, Page explained that his book, purposely written in a non-linear way, was a therapeutic accomplishment that he says he would never have been able to sit down to write before his access to gender-affirming care.

While shying away from discussing film roles specifically given the current SAG-AFTRA strike, Page indicated that he wasn’t concerned about how transitioning would affect his career and that it has been an improvement to him.

“If I came out as trans and my work got worse, that’s fine,” he said. “I don’t need to be in any more movies. I’m good.”

Page added, “I want to be able to live my life truly. But I think it’s made me feel more embodied and more connected and more able to be fully present in a scene.”

But it was during the question and answer period toward the conclusion of the book talk that saw some of the most poignant moments of the event.

“I’m so short,” a simultaneously bemused and frustrated 10-year-old child with painted nails who had made their way to a microphone that towered over them said as they started to ask the actor for some advice.

“Me too,” Page interjected as the crowd chuckled. “Don’t worry about it!”

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“What would you say to a 10-year-old who is just starting to come out as trans and whose — my friends — [about] myself have been like, ‘I’m not calling you that. No.’ What would you say to somebody like that?” the child asked.

“Who is it?” Page joked. “Give me their number.”

He then offered the young person encouragement.

“I tell them that they’re being incredibly insensitive and unkind and [I’d ask] would they ever want someone to react about something like that towards them and that maybe they should take some time to think a little bit more and potentially learn more about trans people and that they aren’t being a very good friend.”

When another young student struggled to get their question out in front of the large crowd, Page patiently waited for them to collect their thoughts.

“I was just wondering if you get bullied, and that’s before coming out to your school, how would you approach coming out?” the young person asked Page.

After taking a moment to think, Page responded and asked an important question.

“I’d say I’d reach out to the people that you trust and love,” he said. “Do you have those people to talk to?”

“Yeah, I think. I don’t know,” the nervous young person replied.

“Aww,” Page responded reassuringly.

“I’d say that you should talk to the people that you love and trust the most. The friends you can rely on, the teachers you can rely on, and maybe start there and ask for their support and speak to the bullying because that definitely shouldn’t be happening,” Page advised.

“And have a group and a community of people that is going to embrace you and support you to not have to deal with that silliness,” he continued.

Page added, “I was bullied, [it] wasn’t fun, but it’ll be okay. It will be.

“I’m not trained or well-equipped to know exactly what to say, but I just want you to feel the support and love you should feel.”

Page’s response garnered vigorous applause.

In closing, Chua asked the accomplished actor to imagine another world.

“If you had superpowers in real life —it’s not like you haven’t had characters with superpowers — and you could change one thing about the world today, what would it be?” Chua inquired.

“Well, right now, it’s bullying,” the Umbrella Academy star responded without missing a beat.

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