Elliot Page Reveals Where His First Name Comes From

Photo: Wynne Neilly for TIME
Photo by Wynne Neilly for TIME

Elliot Page has given his first major interview to Time Magazine since coming out as transgender. It’s a wide-ranging interview that focuses on his physical and emotional transition, his acting career, and his fervent activism on behalf of the trans and gender non-conforming community. Page also revealed the inspiration behind his first name — and it’s an homage to the world of cinema that he dearly loves.

“I loved E.T. when I was a kid and always wanted to look like the boys in the movies, right?,” he told Time, E.T, the 1982 children’s sci-fi-classic, is centered on a young boy named Elliot, played by Henry Thomas; Page added that he’d “always liked” the name. He also has a tattoo that reads E.P. PHONE HOME above his elbow in simple block letters, which are his initials.

The film and television work of other trans actors and writers also helped him come to terms with his gender identity. Page cited Laverne Cox (Orange Is The New Black, Promising Young Woman), Janet Mock (who wrote, produced, and directed Pose), and author P. Carl’s essay in the New York Times, “Becoming a Man.” And like many of us, the pandemic gave him time to perform the difficult, all-consuming work of introspection. “I had a lot of time on my own to really focus on things that I think, in so many ways, unconsciously, I was avoiding,” said Page. Through this process, “I was finally able to embrace being transgender and letting myself fully become who I am.”

Page reflects on the joy he’s experiencing as he lives authentically but also points to the pain facing the greater community. As state legislatures and the federal government debate a variety of anti-trans laws — using trans lives as cultural cudgels — Page speaks out about the very real harm being done to trans people, particularly trans children. In Alabama, a current bill would outlaw doctors from providing gender-affirming healthcare to transgender minors; Page reiterates that access to such care has “transformed” his life. Even the simple act of cutting his long hair was crucial to his well-being. “I just could not have enjoyed it more,” he said, of his first adult masculine hair cut.

His character Vanya Hargreeves, on Netflix’s superhero series The Umbrella Academy, is still, as far as audiences know, a cisgender woman. Page will continue to play Vanya, being one of the precious few transgender actors who perform in a cisgender role. “I’m really excited to act, now that I’m fully who I am, in this body,” he said. “No matter the challenges and difficult moments of this, nothing amounts to getting to feel how I feel now.”