Jazz Jennings on Elliot Page Being a ‘Beacon of Hope’

Jazz Jennings

Getty Images

The YouTube star and LGBTQ activist praised Elliot Page for coming out as transgender

Umbrella Academy star Elliot Page has received a flood of support since coming out as transgender. Everyone from Hillary Clinton to his wife, Emma Portner, has praised the Academy Award-nominated actor for his decision.

Page first announced the news on Instagram, writing: “I can’t begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self.”

We spoke with YouTube personality and LGBTQ activist Jazz Jennings, who identifies as transgender, about Page’s announcement.

Wake-Up Call: This past week Elliot Page announced he is a gender non-binary person! Have you talked to Elliot since?

Jazz Jennings: I reached out to Elliot via direct message on Instagram to say how proud of him I am and to offer any support.

Was it meaningful to you that Elliot was so public about his announcement? 

Yes, because it’s so important that the transgender community is as visible as possible; our voices need to be heard. So often the trans community is silenced, but with people like Elliot being open and honest about their journey, it can influence so many individuals in a variety of ways. Elliot and his story can be seen as a beacon of hope for other transgender people who are struggling with their gender identities. It can also serve to help those who are less educated better understand the trans experience and what we have to face. Overall, it aids in the balancing of our planet and creating a more loving, empathetic society that embraces people who are different. 

You were very public about your experience as a transgender woman from a very young age. Why did you decide to let people follow along? 

I was only 6 years old when I first appeared on television as a transgender child. The world was very different back then as trans youth were hardly even heard of. It was a very difficult decision to share our story at that time because my parents wanted to ensure that I would be protected. However, they ultimately concluded that the way our story could impact the world and help other kids like me made it worth sharing. After that, everything just kind of built up throughout the years until I was 14 years old and asked to participate on I Am Jazz. Like before, we eventually realized that the show could help so many more lives than we could ever imagine and we knew we had the power to use our platform for good and make a difference in the world. 

Netflix announced they will change Elliot’s credits on past films and Elliot will continue to play a female character on the Netflix show, Umbrella Academy. Does the overwhelming support give you hope that we’re moving in the right direction?

I do believe the needle is moving forward in the right direction. In the face of so much hatred and ignorance in this world, there is an even greater legion of love and acceptance that has risen to combat the cruelty. I think it’ll still take many more years before we live in a utopia society where everyone loves everyone, but I have always been and always will be a believer that the utopian outcome is possible and determined by us. 

How have attitudes towards the trans community changed since you first came out? 

I think people are a lot more aware of transgender people and that they exist— this is thanks to the visibility of so many trans spokespeople who were brave enough to come out like Elliot. When I first came out, no one was even talking about transgender people. In this modern age, however, transgender people are at the forefront of the civil rights movement and are consistently making headlines showing that we’re taking huge strides as a society.

What would you say to people who are thinking of coming out in 2021?

I would tell them to be confident and remain true to themselves. Don’t let fear control you and just listen to your inner voice. You have to know who you are and stand strong and firm in your identity. Come out to the right people who you know will support you and keeping being you!