Actor Elliot Page (“Juno”) makes public that he is trans. The reactions reveal knowledge gaps and discriminatory structures.
The 33-year-old is known for his roles in “Juno” and “The Umbrella Academy” Photo: Reuters
“Hi friends, I wanted to let you know that I am trans. My pronouns are “he / they” and my name is Elliot. ”With these words, the written coming-out of the Canadian actor Elliot Page, known from“ Juno ”or“ The Umbrelly Academy ”, begins on Tuesday with just under four Millions of followers on Instagram. Your own gender identity is an intimate matter, but a coming-out of celebrities also harbors political power.
Even today, someone who is heterosexual and cis, that is, identifies with the gender that was assigned to you at birth, is considered “normal”. All other forms of sexuality and gender identities are marked as “different”. Anyone who deviates from the norm experiences discrimination. And while we as a society have made progress in certain aspects, structural discrimination against trans people is still enormous.
This is reflected in medical treatment, legislation and public relations. Trans people are marginalized, insulted, threatened, exposed to violence or killed. Due to hate crimes and suicides, the life expectancy of trans people is significantly lower than that of cis people – worldwide.
In his statement, Page is also aimed at those who are responsible for it. To all politicians who denied the trans community the necessary health care, and to all those who continued to spread hatred against trans people with their reach, he wrote: “You have blood on your hands.”
Little sensitized editors
It is not just individual powerful people to blame. It is their advocates: inside and those who do not disagree. It is feminists who see the rights of trans people as a threat to feminism. It is the majority society that repeatedly questions the existence of trans people. It’s the media – including the taz – with their insensitive, exotic and stereotypical reporting. They all contribute to a trans-hostile climate.
The coming out of Elliot Page once again reveals the knowledge gaps and discriminatory views of the media and society. Media worldwide reported about his coming out.
German media in particular showed how little sensitized their editorial offices are. Whether at ZDF, the Spiegel, n-tv or RND, wrong pronouns, in this case feminine, and the deadname, the previously known name of the person, were used in almost all texts. This can happen unintentionally, but it is also an instrument of power to deny a person’s identity.
The international media have shown how things can be improved. That was the headline Guardian: “Elliot Page: star of X-Men and Juno announces he is transgender”. There were similar formulations for the New York Times, the BBC or the Washington Post. The streaming service Netflix quickly removed the dead name from all films and series. After criticism on Twitter, the dpa news agency published an updated message from Tuesday. Only male pronouns are used there, but Pages deadname still occurs.
Elliot Page“I offer all the support I can provide”
Elliot Page is not the first prominent trans person, but every person who dares to come out despite the possible professional difficulties and a not unlikely threat situation holds hope.
Because with their public reach they can make decades of activists’ struggles more visible, the media can learn from their mistakes, society can close knowledge gaps and the trans community can experience support. Page wants to do that too. “I offer all the support I can provide for a society with more love and equality,” he writes. And what for? “To do everything to make the world a better place.”
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