Many of the political attacks on trans people—whether it is a mandate that bathroom use be determined by birth sex, a blanket ban on medical interventions for trans kids or the suggestion that trans men are simply wayward women beguiled by male privilege—carry the same subtext: that trans people are mistaken about who they are. “We know who we are,” Page says. “People cling to these firm ideas [about gender] because it makes people feel safe. But if we could just celebrate all the wonderful complexities of people, the world would be such a better place.”
Page was attracted to the role of Vanya in The Umbrella Academy because—in the first season, released in 2019—Vanya is crushed by self-loathing, believing herself to be the only ordinary sibling in an extraordinary family. The character can barely summon the courage to move through the world. “I related to how much Vanya was closed off,” Page says. Now on set filming the third season, co-workers have seen a change in the actor. “It seems like there’s a tremendous weight off his shoulders, a feeling of comfort,” says showrunner Steve Blackman. “There’s a lightness, a lot more smiling.” For Page, returning to set has been validating, if awkward at times. Yes, people accidentally use the wrong pronouns—“It’s going to be an adjustment,” Page says—but co-workers also see and acknowledge him.
Whatever challenges might lie ahead, Page seems exuberant about playing a new spectrum of roles. “I’m really excited to act, now that I’m fully who I am, in this body,” Page says. “No matter the challenges and difficult moments of this, nothing amounts to getting to feel how I feel now.” This includes having short hair again. During the interview, Page keeps rearranging strands on his forehead. It took a long time for him to return to the barber’s chair and ask to cut it short, but he got there. And how did that haircut feel?
Page tears up again, then smiles. “I just could not have enjoyed it more,” he says.
for TIME Magazine › 2021
interview by Katy Steinmetz, photography by Wynne Neilly