The Nova Scotia transgender community is collectively beaming with pride over Elliot Page being featured on the cover of Time magazine.
The Halifax-born actor, director and activist is now the second transgender person to grace the cover of the publication. Laverne Cox was the first in 2014.
“I’m really proud of Elliot. I’m proud that he’s from our part of the world,” said Jay Aaron Roy, a transgender man and small business owner in Lower Sackville.
“I think it gives our youth, and the youth that visit this shop, something really cool that anchors them. And, it gives them more of a sense of confidence.”
Like many people within the LGBTQ2 community, Roy strives on a daily basis to make his small business, Cape and Cowl Comics and Collectibles, an inclusive and safe space for everyone who walks through the doors.
That sense of inclusivity is something he yearned for when he was younger and struggled to find transgender role models and representation in his everyday life .
It’s a void he says may have been eased if he saw a transgender man like Page on the cover of a magazine that reaches global audiences.
“It impacted me hugely today but it would be such a huge thing to me 10 years ago because 10 years ago, I was searching for a reflection of myself,” Roy said.
That feeling is echoed by Margot Durling, a trans and non-binary queer artist who is the visionary behind a permanent art installation — Chosen Family — on the Halifax Common.
The installation showcases the deconstruction of traditional gender stereotypes and symbols that can often be significant barriers transgender people face along their journey to self-acceptance and fulfillment.
“I did not see that kind of trans visibility growing up,” they said.
“So, it kind of sent this message to people like me that who you are is not okay and if you do have those feelings you kind of have to just push them down and continue as whatever gender you were given at birth. In that case, it wasn’t my gender.”
Durling firmly believes that having transgender people represented in communities across the world can help pave the way for youth striving to connect with their authentic selves.
“Our generation is very different. We now have the language, and resources, and community to support trans kids as they’re going through this experience,” Durling said.
Durling says the first time they heard of the term “transgender” was in their 20s. Now, they say there are far more opportunities for youth to connect with the transgender community through public representation like Page on the cover of Time magazine.
“If you’re a parent and you have a kid that is expressing these things, celebrate it and tell them it’s okay, and encourage them to explore that because if you don’t, then they will have the idea that who they are is wrong and that can just have such a devastating impact on a person,” Durling said.
Page’s article also highlights the disproportionate amount of violence and discrimination the trans community faces, especially Black and trans women of colour.
“In Nova Scotia, we like to say we don’t have transphobia, racism, or homophobia here but we do, we definitely do,” said Chris Cochrane, a trans woman and drag performer.
“And, having someone like Elliot being so out, and so open, and being from this community — it’s showing that we’re here to make sure that people know that we’re just like everybody else. We want equal rights as everybody else.”