On Tuesday, December 1st, 2020, Elliot Page, formerly known as Ellen Page, known for his roles in Inception and The Umbrella Academy, among others, came out as a transman over Instagram and Facebook.
He stated that his pronouns are he/they and expressed his gratitude for everyone who has been supporting him. He also explained how the trans community has “endlessly inspired” him.
Despite the gratitude he displayed, there was another side to his coming-out letter: “Truth is, despite feeling profoundly happy right now and knowing how much privilege I carry, I am also scared. I’m scared of the invasiveness, the hate, the “jokes”, and of violence.”
This shows how coming out in 2020 may be easier and more frequent than it was just a few years ago, but that doesn’t mean that it is easy.
In fact, it seems as though violent crimes against transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals are on the rise. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has been collecting data on this type of violence since 2013, and 2020 has been the year with the most recorded killings of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in the USA, with over 40 of such murders.
Back in March of 2019, singer Sam Smith officially came out as non-binary, stating, “I’m not male or female. I think I float somewhere in between,” but only announced that they were changing their pronouns to “they/them” in September of the same year.
Recently, they have admitted that they weren’t ready for the hate and bigotry they have been faced with since then.
As they explained in an interview with CBS This Morning, “Queer people all around the world, we don’t identify within those two places. Gender, for me, has been nothing but traumatizing and challenging throughout my life.”
They continued saying, “Honestly, I can’t express to enough people how much courage it’s taken. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of ridicule, and bullying, really, that I’ve experienced.”
Hardly the first celebrity to come out as non-binary, they have not escaped the resentment so many non-binary individuals have faced and continue to face daily.
Back in 2016, Amandla Stenberg, best known for their role as Rue in The Hunger Games, first came out as non-binary on Tumblr. Then only 17 years old, they faced backlash from fans who thought they should “focus on actual problems instead.”
In 2018, they admitted that they “didn’t need those pronouns [they/them] to feel comfortable.”
(It is important to note that she/her and she/they non-binary people are just as valid as they/them non-binary people, but, for consistency, I will refer to Stenberg as they/them since they have expressed having no preference.)
In the four years that have passed since Stenberg announced that they were non-binary, a lot of progress has been made towards the recognition of individuals outside of the traditional gender binary. However, even more progress is needed before equality among all genders is reached.
For example, later in 2016, the first person in the United States successfully changed their sex to “unknown”, and, the following year, Oregon became the first American state to allow an “X” gender marker on IDs and driver’s licenses without requiring a doctor’s note. Now, a total of 19 states have similar laws.
In 2017, Ontario was the first Canadian province to allow for non-binary gender markers on birth certificates and driver’s licenses.
The reason allowing for non-binary gender markers on birth certificates is so important is because the gender marked on your birth certificate is the one used on your death certificate; hence why many non-binary and trans individuals will request a gender change to be made on their birth certificate.
In 2019, the federal government officially started allowing the “X” gender marker on federal documentation such as passports, citizenship certificates, and permanent resident cards.
However, there is still a long way to go before non-binary individuals are fully accepted in society, as the safety of Canadians with the X gender marker is not guaranteed when traveling.
Several non-binary individuals have decided not to change their gender marker just yet, especially “[w]ith violence and discrimination against non-binary and trans people still all too common,” as explains Finn Stuart-Seabrook, a Trans Peer Support Worker who identifies as non-binary, but has not adopted gender-neutral markers on official documents yet.
English singer and songwriter Sam Smith, as well as Canadian actor Elliot Page, unfortunately, confirm that we non-binary, agender, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, bigender, transgender, and any other label we feel most comfortable claiming, have a very long and weary path to acceptance ahead of us.
By Genderless Alien