In “Pageboy,” excerpted here exclusively, Page traces his journey from Canadian child star to Oscar nominee for “Juno” to proud trans man. “I feel the best I’ve ever felt,” he says
Elliot Page’s highly anticipated memoir, Edgewill be released on June 6. It’s a deeply personal story that promises to discuss Page’s relationship with her body, her experiences as one of the world’s most famous trans people, and will cover mental health, assault, love , relationships, sex , and the cesspool that Hollywood can be.
Page, 36, admits to being a little nervous. “A little overwhelmed!” he said laughing. “But grateful.”
“I didn’t think I could write a book,” Page told PEOPLE exclusively. “Books, especially memoirs, have really changed my life, inspired me, comforted me, humbled me, all of those things. about LGTBQ+ lives, about our healthcare, it was a good time. Trans and queer histories are so often separated, or worse, universalized. So the first chapter of Edge” – excerpt below – “I just sat down, and it went out and I didn’t stop. I just kept writing.
Page knows that his own personal experience is not that of most members of his community. “My experience as a trans person and this life that I have, and the privilege that I have doesn’t represent the reality of most trans lives.” Still, representation and visibility are important, he says. “I think it’s crucial, I think we need to feel represented and see each other, you know, it’s not something I liked as a kid. The reality is that trans people are disproportionately unemployed, live disproportionately in homelessness, trans women of color are murdered, people lose or cannot access health care.
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But to be clear, it’s not like Page’s journey has been easy. “Obviously there were very difficult times. I feel like I barely succeeded in many ways. But today I’m just me and grateful to be here and alive and taking one step at a time.
And, as her fans remember, her fame really started with a little movie in 2007 titled Juno – and at the same time, he privately navigated his identity.
This is the first chapter of Page.
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I met Paula when I was twenty. Sitting on our friend’s couch, eating raw almonds with her knees to her chest, she introduced herself, “I’m Paula. The sound of his voice exuded a warmth, a kindness. It wasn’t so much that his eyes lit up but that they found you. I could feel her watching. We went to Reflections. This was my first time going to a gay bar and it would be the last for a long time. I was a miserable flirt.
Flirting when I didn’t want to and not when I wanted to. We were close, but not too close. Looked so thick, I was swimming in it. That summer we took a friend’s boat to a desert island for camping. We made mushrooms around the fires and cooked salmon wrapped in foil. Stars pulsating, reaching, as if forming sentences. Mushrooms always made me cry, but she loved them, my tears of anxiety eventually turned to joy. I envied the assurance of his body. We danced on the beach. We strummed a guitar, we took turns playing shitty covers.
I had just returned from a month-long trip to Eastern Europe, hiking with my childhood best friend, Mark. We started in Prague and took the train to Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade and Bucharest. We stayed in hostels, except one day in Bucharest when Mark was so sick that we took an air-conditioned hotel room. I bought individually wrapped slices of cheese from the store and put them in the little freezer of the little fridge in the little hotel room. We waited for them to cool, and I pressed damp cloths over his neck and down his spine. When the cheese slices have been frozen. I placed them all over Mark’s body, and that seemed to help a little. The room had a Jacuzzi, and we sat in it without refilling it and flipped through the TV channels, landing on some porn which, incidentally, also took place in a Jacuzzi. Mark ate the cheese.
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That was before smartphones. Navigate trains, inns, men, all with one guide. We went to cybercafés to send a message home. “Hey, we’re alive.” I would email Paula, wanting her. I thought of her constantly, as we strolled through Austria, gazing at a sea of sunflowers; as I drank blueberry beer in a Belgrade basement, my lips purple, my head spinning, like the last time we kissed, which was the first time; on a twelve-hour train journey from Belgrade to Bucharest during one of the worst heat waves in decades. Mark and I were lying next to each other on the same bunk, the window rolled down, our heads as close to the opening as possible. There was no air conditioning and we had no water. We listened to Cat Power on shared headphones and drank absinthe. Do you listen to it at the same time? The CD I made you? I wondered, almost saying the words out loud. I watched the night pass, the Serbian landscape, rural, motionless with its scattered and fleeting lights. I thought of Paule.
This time at Reflections was new to me, being in a queer space and being present, enjoying it. Shame had been drilled into my bones since I was myself, and I struggled to rid my body of that toxic, eroding old marrow. But there was a joy in the room, it lifted me, forced a reaction in my jaw, an uncontrolled, constant smile. Dancing, sweat dripping down my back, onto my chest. I watched Paula’s hair twist and bounce as she moved effortlessly, chaotic but controlled, sultry and strong. I caught her looking at me, or was it the other way around? We wanted to be taken. Deer in the headlights. Surprised, but no break.
“Can I kiss you?” I asked, shaken by my audacity, as if it came from elsewhere, fueled by electronic music perhaps, a release circuit, to demand that you leave your repression at the door. And then I did. In a weird bar. In front of everyone around us. I was beginning to understand what all these poems were about, what they were about. Everything was cold before, motionless, emotionless. All the women I had loved had not loved me back, and the one who had perhaps loved him had loved me badly. But there I was, on a dance floor with a woman who wanted to kiss me and the antagonistic, cruel voice that flooded my head whenever I felt the desire go silent. Maybe for a second I could allow myself some pleasure. We leaned down so our lips touched, the tips of our tongues barely touching, testing, sending shocks through my limbs. We looked at each other, a silent acquaintance. Here I was on the precipice. Getting closer to my desires, to my dreams, to me, without the unbearable weight of self-loathing I’ve carried for so long. But a lot can change in a few months. And in a few months Juno would be first.
Edge publishes June 6.
Page’s tour begins on June 6, the day of publication, in New York City, then heads to Los Angeles for an event on June 8. He will then be in San Francisco on June 10; Madison, Wis., June 12; and ends the tour on June 14 in Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, June 6 – Town Hall, New York
Thursday, June 8 – Los Angeles Times Book Club at the Montalbán Theatre, Los Angeles
Saturday, June 10 – City Arts & Lectures at Sydney Goldstein Theatre, San Francisco
Monday, June 12 – Room of One’s Own at the Barrymore Theater, Madison, Wisconsin
Wednesday, June 14 – Sixth & I, Washington, DC
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