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What Elliot Page’s coming out means to me as a 13-year-old transgender activist | Opinion

Elliot’s courage gives me hope that sooner than later, the stories told about transgender people will no longer be about the violence and discrimination we face, but the people we are.

Rebekah Bruesehoff is a 13-year-old transgender activist in Camden County.
Rebekah Bruesehoff is a 13-year-old transgender activist in Camden County.Read moreCourtesy of Maegan Dougherty (Custom credit)

This week, Elliot Page came out as transgender. Elliot is an Oscar-nominated actor you might know from his roles in Juno and Umbrella Academy. I didn’t know him. I’d never seen his work. And yet, this week he changed my world for the better just by sharing his identity publicly.

I am a 13-year-old transgender activist who works to spread hope and create positive change for LGBTQ youth around the world. I socially transitioned five and a half years ago, and it changed everything for me. I didn’t have to pretend anymore to be someone I wasn’t.

Now, I share my story in front of crowds and lead workshops to spread awareness about trans youth. I make my voice heard on the local, state, and national level in support of trans-affirming policies. I work with schools, workplaces, and faith communities to help create spaces where LGBTQ kids are fully accepted as themselves. I advocate to create a more inclusive world. I dream and hope for a world where all people, in all their uniqueness, can be safe and loved. There’s a lot of work to do.

» READ MORE: ‘All my love, Elliot’: Actor Page comes out as transgender

When I came out, Jazz Jennings, a transgender activist, was an important role model for me. Her sharing her story publicly showed me that I wasn’t alone. I was only 8 years old, but watching her live her truth helped me see that while this journey may be difficult at times, being the best version of myself was all that mattered.

I choose to be visible as a transgender young person because I know that there are kids like me who need to know there is hope. Last year, in recognition of my advocacy work, Marvel made me a superhero in the series Marvel’s Hero Project on Disney+. I received the most incredible pictures of transgender youth watching the episode and drawings of them as their own superheroes. By being myself in a world that all too often wishes I wasn’t, I get to show others that they aren’t alone.

That’s why Elliot Page’s coming out matters. Elliot has a platform bigger than any I could imagine, reaching millions of people. Thanks to Elliot, more kids will know they aren’t alone. More kids will see bright, beautiful possibilities for themselves. More people will learn what it means to be transgender and have a positive example to go with it. And more people will be inspired to show up as the fullest version of themselves.

» READ MORE: How to support trans people in Philly, according to trans people

In Elliot’s statement, he said, “My joy is real, but it is also fragile. The truth is, despite feeling profoundly happy right now and knowing how much privilege I carry, I am also scared.” This speaks volumes about what coming out really means to an LGBTQ person. So often, public conversations talk about how great it is to come out, how amazing it feels, and how we are a million times happier living as ourselves. That’s all true, but it’s also really scary to put yourself out there in such a vulnerable way. It’s hard to carry the fear of what this means for your future.

Elliot’s courage and authenticity inspires me and gives me hope that sooner than later, the stories told about transgender people will no longer be about the violence and discrimination we face, but the art we create, the people we are, and the contributions we make to society. To transgender kids all over the world, Elliot’s coming out matters, whether they know who he is or not. It matters because the fans, costars, and industry members rallying around Elliot right now are showing the world how it’s done — how to show up for transgender people.

Elliot wrote, “I love that I am trans. And I love that I am queer.” Me too, Elliot. The more I know myself, the more I embrace myself, the more of me there is to bring to every single part of my life — my self, my friends, my family, and my advocacy. Together, we’ll keep working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place.

Rebekah Bruesehoff is an award-winning transgender activist. She lives in Camden County.