Teen says trans role models can change children’s lives
As a young stranger growing up in Halifax, 18-year-old Hanley Smith always knew who Canadian actor Elliot Page was.
Especially since they come from the exact same neighborhood.
“I’ve always been super aware of who they were and what they were doing,” Hanley told CBC Kids News. ‘A grown, strange person [is] something magical to see as a young, strange person. “
Now they have something else in common.
Earlier this week, Oscar-nominated actor Elliot Page – best known for movies like Juno and Inception, as well as the Netflix series Umbrella Academy – said he is transgender.
“I love being trans,” Page said in an Instagram post. And I love that I’m queer. And the more I hold on to myself and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive. “
Page also thanked other people in the trans community for their inspiration, saying his pronouns are he / she.
Page received a ton of support from others on social media, including Netflix and Canadian queer musicians Tegan and Sara.
What is ‘deadnaming’ and why is it harmful?
Page’s announcement sparked a conversation about ‘deadnaming’, which refers to the use of a trans person’s past name.
You may have noticed that CBC, along with other news platforms, has made a conscious decision not to use Page’s old name in their coverage.
This is partly because transgender people say that using their old name can be harmful.
Hanley, who is transgender and nonbinary, said hearing their dead name makes it difficult to move on from their past.
Hanley Smith (she / she) is transgender and nonbinary. They are a board member of the Youth Project, a Nova-Scotia-based non-profit for queer youth. (Image submitted by Hanley Smith)
“Every time I hear my dead name, I get the feeling that, oh yeah, other people will never see me as the person I see myself, and that’s really hard,” Hanley said.
They said the same is true for Page.
“It didn’t click on people that, no, Page was never that person, that was just the title they got before they could find themselves.”
Nancy Waugh, editor-in-chief of CBC Nova Scotia, said CBC’s choice to avoid using Elliot’s dead name is both a matter of respect for Page and journalistic rigor.
“In our journalistic standards and practices, we talk about our commitment to accuracy, fairness and balance,” she said. Elliot Page says this is the name he wants to be known by, so this is an accurate work.
How Elliot Page’s announcement affects trans children
Hanley said that for young children struggling with their gender identity, seeing someone as Page can change lives.
“When you’re young hearing from a queer or genderqueer person, it really changes your life because it says there’s something out of line with what you’ve been taught,” they said.
Hanley, using these pronouns, identifies as both transgender and nonbinary, meaning that they don’t consider their gender to be purely masculine or feminine.
Nonbinary people can see themselves as a mixture of the two, neither, or can even see themselves within a third gender that they themselves define.
Hanley said the fact that Page came out with both he and she pronouns was “beautiful” and powerful, “because it also reveals the idea of being non-binary.
Concerns about online hate
But Hanley said Page’s announcement is “a mix of pride and concern” because they know how much hate transgender people are getting online and Hanley said the hate is “already underway.”
Hanley said that makes Page particularly brave.
“They are not only putting their identities and personalities at risk, but also their jobs, their safety and their chances of taking on new roles,” said Hanley.
With files from CBC News