Sir Ian McKellen praises Elliot Page for coming out as trans

8 January 2021, 16:44 | Updated: 8 January 2021, 16:53

Sir Ian McKellen with co-star Elliot Page inset
Sir Ian McKellen with co-star Elliot Page inset. Picture: 1. David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Paul Smith 2. Instagram/Elliot Page

By Jenny Mensah

The British acting legend has praised his X-Men co-star, who revealed they were transgender at the end of 2020.

Sir Ian McKellen has shared his joy at Elliot Page coming out as transgender.

The British actor starred in X-Men alongside Page and has shared his disappointment that he didn't recognise her struggles at the time.

Page took to social media last year to announce that his name was Elliot and their pronouns would be "he/they".

Now the legendary actor, who starred as Magneto in the X Men franchise, has spoken out about the news and reflected on the time they spent together on set.

“Everything gets better [when you come out] because you get self-confidence,” McKellen explained in an interview for Attitude magazine.

"So you get better in terms of relationships, friends of all sorts, family, if you’re lucky. And in my case, I think in every case, your acting is bound to change and improve."

Recalling his time on set with Page back in 2006, McKellen revealed: "I remember Elliot Page, in one of the X-Men, sat as close as we are now. And I had to speak when they’d finished, and I couldn’t hear what they were saying. Nobody could hear what they were saying.

"So, I said, 'Look, if you can’t speak up, would you mind when you’re finished speaking, just dropping your hand so I know when you’ve finished speaking?'

"And then they came out [as gay] years later and suddenly you couldn’t stop them talking. You heard everything."

He added: "And now… they’re Elliot. And I’m so happy for Elliot. And so disappointed in myself that I didn’t detect what their difficulty was with communicating."

READ MORE: Elliot Page thanks fans for love and support after coming out as transgender

McKellen was one of the UK's most high-profile gay public figures when he came out in 1988 in response to Margaret Thatcher's Section 28 legislation.

The veteran actor revealed how being open with his sexuality allowed his acting to improve soon after, as he found himself able to cry for the first time on stage.

"One of the first plays I did having come out was Uncle Vanya at the National [Theatre]," he recalled. "And I found in Act III, when Vanya is at his peak of his misery, that I started crying.

"I’ve never been able to cry, but I could now, because it was more me, the real me. And that was my contribution to the play and to the character."

Elliot Page first shared his brave announcement brave by posting a lengthy statement on 1 December 2020.

It began: "Hi friends, I want to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns are he/they and my name is Elliot. I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life."

The Umbrella Academy star added: "I feel overwhelming gratitude for the incredible people who have supported me along this journey. I can’t begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self. I’ve been endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community. Thank you for your courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place. I will offer whatever support I can and continue to strive for a more loving and equal society."

Page concluded: "I love that I am trans. And I love that I am queer. And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive. To all the trans people who deal with harassment, self-loathing, abuse, and the threat of violence every day: I see you, I love you, and I will do everything I can to change this world for the better."

The Juno star took to social media later that month to react to the outpouring of support, writing: "From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

"Your love and support has been the greatest gift.

"Stay safe. Be there for each other.

"If you are able, support @transanta and @translifeline

"See you in 2021

"Xoxo Elliot".

READ MORE How Elton John became an LGBTQ+ icon and advocate

If you have been affected by the themes in this story, please seek advice from the helplines below:

Trans Helpline

Tel: 0300 330 0630

Transgender Support


Lesbian, Gay, Bi & Trans advice at Support U


Cigarettes & Alcohol by Oasis: a classic Britpop lyric

Britpop's 25 best lyrics

Nothing But Thieves: Soundcheck To Stage

Stars of 1984: The Cure, Depeche Mode and Ian McCulloch of Echo & The Bunnymen

The 25 best Indie songs of 1984