Behind ‘Elliot’ Page’s gender confusion is the heartbreaking trauma of sexual abuse

On her Instagram page, Ellen “Elliot” Page regularly posts photographs of her new life as a male. She’s smiling in almost all of them, but the smiles never seem to reach her eyes — and no matter how many celebratory emojis and supportive comments are posted, there is something heartbreaking and tragic about the shirtless photos that display her red, jagged chest scars and mangled nipples where the surgeon removed her breasts. As I noted several years ago when TIME published a photo essay and feature article on her “gender transition,” lauding her transformation and her “joy,” she still looked desperately sad — as if she had endured a tragedy.

As Page’s new memoir Pageboy reveals, she has endured many — and I suspect that the predation Page has suffered at the hands of Hollywood abusers has much to do with the confusion she has lived through for years.

According to Page’s new memoir, the film industry was a minefield for a young girl starting out in the business. An unnamed filmmaker stroked her thigh under the table at a fancy dinner at a French diner in downtown Toronto and groomed her with “frequent texts [that] made me feel special, as did the books he gifted me.” At one point he told her, “You have to make the move, I can’t.” In a chapter titled “Leeches,” Page related that a crew member had done the same thing, at one point grabbing her and pulling her to himself. That man, who is now a director, followed her into her department, pushed her down, and performed a sex act. She told him to get out. He slept on the couch anyway.

“Leeches,” you might remember, are bloodsucking parasites.

On another film set, Page — who previous to identifying as “transgender” in December 2020 came out as a lesbian in 2014 — was allegedly assaulted repeatedly by a female crew member. Feeling isolated, insecure, and alone, Page wrote that she was “a perfect target for sexual predators.” The film industry made her more vulnerable. “In new cities, with no friends, alone in hotel rooms, it was not hard for someone to prey,” she wrote. “I’m sure they sense that.” Many of Page’s descriptions are too graphic to bear repeating, but the picture she paints is clear.

It is bewildering to me that, considering the irreversible and life-changing results of sex-change surgeries and cross-sex hormones, that there is so little interest by progressives in examining how life experiences — particularly traumatic sexual experiences and abuse — impacts one’s view of se x, gender, and orientation. Many researchers, including Abigail Shrier (author of Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters) and Mary Harrington (author of Feminism Against Progress) have noted the connection between how ubiquitous violent pornography has transformed the sexual landscape and the exploding trend of girls and young women deciding to reject femininity entirely.


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