Elliot Page Movies Ranked By Transness

On January 22, 2008, Elliot Page became the first trans actor to be nominated for an Oscar — he just didn’t know it yet.

Since they were a child, Elliot has been one of our most interesting, courageous, and flat-out talented actors. They have built a body of work that is dark, political, and outside the realm of normal Hollywood stardom. They’ve always given the impression that their goals as an actor — and a public figure — go far beyond themself, go far beyond fame and fortune.

If Elliot’s creative focus remains on acting, I am certain the next phase of his career is going to be even more fruitful. Hollywood’s transphobia is no match for the shot of adrenaline that is finally being out to yourself and the world. It’s a reality that Elliot would not have had his success had he been out as a child — it’s also a reality that trans actors and activists have changed the industry enough the past two decades that now he’ll be able to change it even more.

But before we look to the future, I think it’s worth looking to the past. Because Elliot may not have played trans characters, but in every single movie he showed up to set as a trans person and when we watch those movies we are looking at a trans person.

I think trans actors can play cis characters — though I’m far more invested in trans characters being complex enough that this wouldn’t be desired — but that doesn’t mean ignoring what those trans actors bring to those roles. I’m not arguing that Elliot’s characters have been textually trans — I am arguing that it’s worth considering them through a trans lens.

Over the past few weeks I’ve watched or rewatched just about every one of his movies. This project has only increased my admiration and affection for Elliot. I hope this is received as a celebration — a celebration of all Elliot has accomplished so far and, more importantly, what’s possible for their future.

There are three ratings: the movie’s overall transness, Elliot’s character’s transness, and the average between those two assessments resulting in the ranking.

An illustration based on Elliot Page's Time cover. The center image is in vibrant color, on what looks like a pile of the same image in muted tones. Elliot sits with his arm on his knee wearing a white shirt.

Illustrations by A. Andrews.


30. Smart People (2008)

Movie: 1/10
Elliot: 1/10
Total: 1/10

When I started this project I thought that no matter how not trans a movie was, I’d at least give Elliot’s character a 2/10 — then I watched Smart People. Elliot’s first role post-Juno has all the markings of Hollywood (and probably new management) squandering a once-in-a-generation talent because they can’t handle that talent’s innate queerness. This insufferable indie, about an insufferable English professor played by Dennis Quaid, forces Elliot to play a Republican teenager who uses the R word and only thinks about tax credits. He’s still good — he’s always good — but this is one of his worst movies and easily the least trans.

29. An American Crime (2007)

Movie: 1/10
Elliot: 2/10
Total: 1.5/10

This is a brutal movie based on the brutal story of Sylvia Likens. If you haven’t seen this movie and don’t know about Sylvia Likens, I would recommend not seeing the movie and not reading the entire Wikipedia page about her. (I, unfortunately, did both.) There’s nothing trans about this movie, but this is just one of many very brutal entries in Elliot’s filmography and I do find it interesting that they were so often filling roles where they were abused. Trans people in real life often face abuse prior to transition because vulnerability is read into our difference — it’s interesting to see that potentially play out in casting.

28. Love That Boy (2003)

Movie: 1/10
Elliot: 2/10
Total: 1.5/10

Even watching this through an early 2000s indie lens, I just couldn’t get past the conceit of a 22 year old girl falling in love with a 15 year old boy. Elliot plays an age appropriate person also in love with that boy. It’s a small part and not especially trans except in the way they always feel trans.

27. The Stone Angel (2007)

Movie: 1/10
Elliot: 3/10
Total: 2/10

Elliot is on the poster for this adaptation of what I’m told is an oft-read book in Canadian public schools. But they’re barely in it! The marketing people were probably just trying to capitalize on Juno, because while I believe it was shot beforehand, it was released right after. Their character is presented as feminine but they do complain that their mom used to make them wear sashes and bows. Also their future mother-in-law hates them which feels vaguely trans.

26. Super (2010)

Movie: 2/10
Elliot: 3/10
Total: 2.5/10

I know James Gunn’s breakout has defenders but I really loathed its gratuitous violence and general amorality. It’s self-aware, but is it self-aware enough? I’d argue no. Elliot plays a tomboy who works at a comic book store. Despite having to use gay as an insult (lol 2010), be really ableist, and — I’m so sorry — rape Rainn Wilson, they’re easily the best part of the movie. Anything about superheroes is going to feel a little trans even if it’s bad.

25. Ghost Cat (2004)

Movie: 2/10
Elliot: 3/10
Total: 2.5/10

One of two early Elliot Canadian kids movies about fun ghosts! His character loves cats, has a crush on the older boy who also volunteers at the animal shelter, and wears a cool brown leather jacket. I guess this movie isn’t that trans but it’s a good leather jacket.

24. Flatliners (2017)

Movie: 2/10
Elliot: 3/10
Total: 2.5/10

Elliot’s most recent movie is about a bunch of med students with guilt and a death wish. I don’t recommend watching this no matter how much you like Elliot, Kiersey Clemons, and Diego Luna — but guilt and death wish are unfortunately both trans.

23. Going for Broke (2003)

Movie: 1/10
Elliot: 4/10
Total: 2.5/10

Most actors have to be in at least a few mediocre TV movies and this one about gambling addiction is a real slog. But extra points for Elliot’s character dying his hair and becoming rebellious while being the most responsible member of the family. That’s a trans combo! There’s also a scene where he wants to wear jeans and his mom wants him to wear a skirt.

22. Inception (2010)

Movie: 4/10
Elliot: 3/10
Total: 3.5/10

Because this is a big budget movie made by a guy whose understanding of gender is men grunt and women die, Elliot is forced to wear a lot of makeup in this one. He’s also not really a character and is mostly just around to ask for exposition. But the trans person not being well-developed and just providing exposition honestly checks out?? I’m being snarky, but the truth is Inception is still really good and the movie being about “pure creation” feels trans to me. Like if we can cheat architecture, we can certainly cheat assigned gender, right? Tom Hardy is a hot blonde woman at one point so I’d say yes.

21. Homeless to Harvard (2003)

Movie: 3/10
Elliot: 4/10
Total: 3.5/10

Another TV movie, this one based on the life of Liz Murray. It’s a bit better due to Thora Birch and a bit more trans due to themes of being an outcast and overcoming adversity. Elliot plays her sibling and is only in the movie in the beginning but he’s wearing big baggy clothes and is the responsible one in the family.

An illustration based on Hard Candy with Elliot Page as he looks now. He is on a couch wearing red shorts and no shirt. It looks like he's glowing in the sun.

20. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Movie: 4/10
Elliot: 3/10
Total: 3.5/10

19. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

Movie: 5/10
Elliot: 2/10
Total: 3.5/10

Despite being made by two of the worst people in Hollywood — and being two of the worst entries in the franchise — it’s impossible for X-Men movies not to feel trans. Elliot’s Kitty Pryde is femme and mostly just a love interest in The Last Stand, despite being able to walk through walls. They’re in Days of Future Past even less, but it’s cool to look at the movies side-by-side to see Elliot’s evolution. Even though they’re still playing the same character and they’re years from coming out, they seem so much more comfortable on-screen in 2014 than they did in 2006.

18. Pit Pony (1997)

Movie: 5/10
Elliot: 2/10
Total: 3.5/10

Elliot’s first movie is about a little boy who is forced to work in a Novia Scotia coal mine in the early 20th century. Elliot plays his loud sibling who is sad they don’t get to see their brother as much anymore. They’re not in it much of the movie but the whole thing is about striking! Collective action is trans! This was turned into a show that Elliot was also on, but I haven’t watched it so I cannot comment on its quality nor its transness.

17. The Cured (2017)

Movie: 5/10
Elliot: 3/10
Total: 4/10

This is a fascinating entry in the zombie movie subgenre, forgoing the usual outbreak plot for something far more complex. The zombie epidemic has already devastated Ireland — but now many of the zombies have been cured and have to face life as second class citizens haunted by memories of the harm they caused. Elliot plays a straight mom who was never a zombie but they are the number one ally to the cured and being a number one ally is a great step to being trans. Because the former zombies actually did commit harm, I find this movie works better not as an allegory for queer people, but as an allegory for those in our lives who don’t accept us. Can we forgive friends and family who didn’t see our humanity? Can we continue to see theirs?

16. To Rome with Love (2012)

Movie: 2/10
Elliot: 6/10
Total: 4/10

Elliot has called this Woody Allen film the biggest regret of his career. (It’s worth noting this was made before Dylan Farrow’s letter when just about every white actor was working with him — actors such as Emma Stone, Kristen Stewart, and Kate Winslet worked with him after.) I could only stomach rewatching Elliot’s section and God is this awful!! It’s horrifying that as a teenager I couldn’t see the grossness of Allen’s movies. But what’s wild is Elliot’s character feels really trans?? Woody Allen’s attempt to create a sexist stereotype accidentally resulted in someone who feels pretty queer. They’re bisexual and just got out of a relationship with a gay guy who they thought they could change! Both of these things are played as jokes but if you ignore the musings of Jesse Eisenberg and Alec Baldwin, Elliot’s character just feels queer, trans, and too good for this movie.

15. Wilby Wonderful (2004)

Movie: 3/10
Elliot: 5/10
Total: 4/10

Something I learned doing this project is there are a lot of lowkey Canadian movies about really dark things. This ensemble dramedy — co-starring Sandra Oh! — features Elliot as a teen who spends a lot of time making out with his boyfriend and slut shaming his mom who owns a café. There’s a moment where a homophobe talks begrudgingly about where the queers hang out and Elliot perks up. Combine that with a scene where he gets femmed up and looks uncertain in a mirror — and his confused shame-filled relationship to sex — and I’d say it all feels pretty trans.

14. Tallulah (2016)

Movie: 5/10
Elliot: 3/10
Total: 4/10

One of the best parts of watching every Elliot Page movie is it also means watching a lot of Allison Janney movies! The two of them have such good chemistry and their dynamic is at its best here. This movie is trans because it starts with Elliot living in a van with their boyfriend and ends up being all about chosen family. There’s also a moment where someone calls their character Lucy and they say no their name is Lu.

13. Peacock (2010)

Movie: 8/10
Elliot: 2/10
Total: 5/10

This isn’t my least favorite movie on this list, but it’s probably the worst. It’s like someone decided to remake Psycho but make it boring. Yes this is offensive, yes this is bleak, but worst of all… it’s dull! Cillian Murphy isn’t technically playing a trans woman here, but most movies that play into the violent transfeminine trope aren’t explicit about the character’s transness. I’m super curious if the genderqueerness is what drew Elliot to this movie, even subconsciously. And, for the record, I don’t begrudge their involvement at all — we all made mistakes a decade before transitioning.

12. My Days of Mercy (2017)

Movie: 4/10
Elliot: 6/10
Total: 5/10

Despite the movie’s queerness, there isn’t much here that’s textually trans. But like Tallulah, there’s just something about these later indie movies that Elliot produced that feel trans. Elliot seems more comfortable and more himself on screen and it’s very easy to read his transness on his characters. This is a morally complicated movie but I think it’s really good and has one of Elliot’s best performances.

11. Freeheld (2015)

Movie: 2/10
Elliot: 9/10
Total: 5.5/10

For me, transness is not just about gender identity — it’s also about political identity. Trans people hold all sorts of beliefs and act all sorts of ways, but if I’m ranking art by my definition of transness then politics are a factor. This weepy melodrama released at the tail end of the gay marriage movement is what people mean when they say a movie is gay but not queer. Elliot’s role as a butch lesbian lets them be truer to their own gender identity and they’re so comfortable and lovely on-screen. But they’re the only good part. This movie is filled with pro-cop propaganda and shows policework around drugs with the complexity of Law and Order. It creates heroes out of several cis male characters — including Michael Shannon as a straight cop — and is the kind of palatable gay cinema that does more harm than good. Which queer lives do we care about in politics and on screen? Which queer lives do we ignore?

An illustration based on Juno with how Elliot Page looks now. He is wearing a red sweatshirt and talking into a hamburger phone.

10. Into the Forest (2015)

Movie: 5/10
Elliot: 6/10
Total: 5.5/10

Written and directed by lesbian filmmaking icon Patricia Rozema, this understated post-apocalyptic tale was tough to watch before the pandemic and is tougher to watch now. Elliot’s character begins as a self-centered teenager who throughout the movie is forced to quickly grow up and become the responsible member of the family — a theme in his work! As his sister (played by Evan Rachel Wood) begins to fill the mother archetype, Elliot becomes the father. He gets tougher, more butch, and starts wearing flannel. The movie is all about surviving under impossible circumstances and with its two queer leads and queer director the movie just feels very queer and trans.

9. Touchy Feely (2013)

Movie: 7/10
Elliot: 4/10
Total: 5.5/10

This is another one that’s not textually very trans but the vibes feel very trans. The great Lynn Shelton’s low-key dramedy about a massage therapist who develops an aversion to touch and her dentist brother who becomes a healer is all about intimacy, personal growth, and unlikely connections. Elliot plays the dentist’s child who lives with him and works for him but wants to leave. He’s obsessed with his aunt’s boyfriend and the culmination of their relationship is so tender in Shelton’s directorial care.

8. The East (2013)

Movie: 6/10
Elliot: 6/10
Total: 6/10

Sorry but ecoterrorism is trans. I cannot imagine a group of ecoterrorists that are all cis. I’m sorry I just can’t. And here Elliot’s vaguely queer character is joined by another ecoterrorist named Luca, who is beaten up by the feds for being gender-nonconforming. Elliot’s character is also the child of a man who works for one of the bad companies they’re trying to take down, and Elliot meets up with him as part of their scheme. Their dad says they look beautiful because Elliot is dressed femme and the energy is just very trans child meeting up with a disapproving parent — in addition to one being an ecoterrorist and the other being the true cause of the terror.

7. Marion Bridge (2002)

Movie: 7/10
Elliot: 6/10
Total: 6.5/10

Molly Parker is so good in our next lowkey Canadian indie about very serious things. (This is written by Daniel MacIvor, the writer/director of Wilby Wonderful.) Elliot’s character is introduced in all denim smoking a cigarette. He’s reading Jane Eyre. He runs away from home. There’s lots and lots of trauma. The whole thing is about returning to estranged family. Trans trans trans trans.

6. Hard Candy (2005)

Movie: 7/10
Elliot: 8/10
Total: 7.5/10

Many people’s first introduction to Elliot, this mouse-and-cat rape/revenge tale deepens with less obvious gender lines. Elliot’s character begins the movie playacting girliness, but once he’s begun his plot of revenge, the performance falls away. The intention is probably for him to go from a Lolita-figure to a more grounded portrait of a girl, but watching Elliot now, he feels like a vengeful trans boy, furious at the way the world treats women and furious at the way the world treats him. The scene when he wears his target’s clothes is especially sharp. It feels like he’s experimenting with going from prey to predator only to repeatedly retreat in discomfort at this new role. He doesn’t want to be violent. He doesn’t want to switch roles. He wants these roles to disappear altogether. But that’s not the world we live in. So, for now, he’ll put on these acts — girl, predator — so other people can safely be themselves.

5. Mouth to Mouth (2005)

Movie: 8/10
Elliot: 8/10
Total: 8/10

Even before Elliot gets their head shaved on camera, this rough-around-the-edges indie feels trans. Elliot plays an angsty runaway who joins a street cult called SPARK. They have a general dissatisfaction that makes them the perfect target for this group. Post-childhood but pre-X-Men, this movie feels like it’s capturing a moment when Elliot was coming into their own before Hollywood course-corrected them back to an attempted heteronormativity. It’s fitting then that the movie is all about running away from home only to run away from the new home that claimed you. It takes most of us a few tries to really find our communities, to really find ourselves.

4. Juno (2007)

Movie: 7/10
Elliot: 9/10
Total: 8/10

If you weren’t a teenager in 2007, I’m not sure you’ll ever be able to understand the unique way so many of us latched onto this movie. The soundtrack! Diablo Cody’s writing! Elliot Page, Elliot Page, and, one more time, Elliot Page. It’s honestly kind of emotional to realize how trans this movie is given how much it meant to us as kids!

Let’s start with the sort of clinical way Juno loses their virginity. It shows a certain disconnect from their body, like sex is something to cross off a list, even though we’ll see they do have feelings for the person they’re having sex with. Next up, their fashion. Sure they could just be a quirky girl but I think the pipe pushes them into trans territory. Bleeker’s mom says Juno is just… different. And they really are! The women around Juno are so cis and hetero and the contrast with Juno is stark. Also the way she seeks approval from the dude adopting her baby! “I don’t really know what kind of girl I am,” Juno says. Watching the movie now, the answer seems simple enough: not a girl at all.

3. I Downloaded a Ghost (2002)

Movie: 8/10
Elliot: 10/10
Total: 9/10

“I just think it’s time you put down the Goosebumps and start to act more like a girl!”

And so begins a kids movie so trans it makes all the Disney princesses seem cis. Elliot plays a child obsessed with all things scary much to his mother’s chagrin. She gives him a dress and begs him not to turn this one into a costume so he gifts it to a giant model swamp creature in his horror-themed club house. He’s determined to win his school’s haunted house contest even though every year the winner is the same popular rich girl. This is a movie where the villains are the cops and rich people. And there’s literally a scene where Elliot puts on a latex skin suit to pretend to be a woman.

When Elliot accidentally gets his dad fired, he cries, “My family is being hurt because of the way I am!” He then puts on makeup and a dress during a sad montage. But then he goes back to dressing like a boy to save the day! The movie loses some points because the titular ghost is an annoying cis dude comedian — like does Goodfellas impressions annoying — but this is still a delightful kids movie about a trans boy learning to be himself and making a great haunted house along the way!

2. The Tracey Fragments (2007)

Movie: 9/10
Elliot: 10/10
Total: 9.5/10

Out of all Elliot’s movies, this split screen indie drama is most improved by his transition. Upon release, most people thought it was an interesting but failed experiment. It’s less about plot and more about vibes and as a story about a damaged teenage cis girl, the vibes aren’t quite enough. But as a portrait of a trans teen it’s fascinating. And there’s plenty on-screen to support that reading besides its star.

Elliot plays Tracey Berkowitz, called The Titless Wonder by one of his many bullies. He’s a depressed outcast with a shitty homelife and a shittier time at school. He has a crush on a boy who wears makeup and his psychiatrist is literally a trans woman who urges him to explain to his parents how he’s feeling. When he helps a woman on the bus, she says “thank you, man” and when he uses the girls bathroom, another bully jokes about whether he is a “he or a she.” During the sex scene, he dissociates — picturing a horse among other things — and it all feels very trans and very gay.

The fractured style seems to capture something really true about his sense of self and experience of the world. At the end, he says, “My name is Tracey Berkowitz, just a normal girl.” He repeats that last phrase, unconvinced. Not normal. Not a girl. Just a confused teen trying to survive in a cruel world.

1. Whip It (2010)

Movie: 10/10
Elliot: 10/10
Total: 10/10

It’s one of my dreams to make a coming of age movie about a trans teen who never realizes they’re trans. But in a sense one already exists. It’s called Whip It.

When this movie came out, people complained that it wasn’t gay. But Elliot’s character falls for a femme-y douchebag rock star and if that’s not closeted gay transmasc energy I don’t know what is. (At one point they even swap clothes!) The whole movie is about Elliot’s character’s struggle between the girly pageants their mom wants them to do and roller derby where they feel more like themself. So many of us found conflict with our families long before understanding why. Maybe it was roller derby, maybe it was theatre, maybe it was how we dressed or how we acted — even if we didn’t have the language, we knew we were different. It’s an experience so many of us have and this is the rare chance to see it on-screen. It’s fitting that when someone tells their mom they’re doing roller derby, they say, “Thanks for outing me.”

It’s okay if you don’t read Whip It as trans. It’s okay if this whole exercise bothers you as a cis woman who grew up connecting to Juno and Hard Candy and all of Elliot’s other work. Maybe these readings won’t feel necessary when Elliot has 30 more movies they’ve made fully as themself, when all the talented trans actors who started their careers as themselves get the roles they deserve. But until then I’m grateful to have Whip It. I’m grateful to have Elliot Page. I’m grateful to have a trans actor who has already given us so much, and is sure to give us so much more.

An illustration based on Whip It with how Elliot Page looks now. He is wearing a green shirt and green helmet. His arms are outstretched and he's wearing elbow pads.


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drewgregory1224

Drew is an LA-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. Her writing can be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, I Heart Female Directors, and, of course, Autostraddle. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about trans lesbians. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @draw_gregory.

Drew has written 206 articles for us.

22 Comments

  1. awww i grately enjoyed the ones about movies i’ve seen. esp juno bc i still remember a visceral feeling of like, it not being the whole story? somethign v important juno & we could not quite put our finger on? i remember it making me feel ok w having things not figured out at all. now i wanna rewatch it. also why do i get it mixed up with little miss sunshine? they were indie movies that got in theatres around the same time? also SO MANY MOVIES!! holy cats elliot!!!

    • I love this so much! I got compared to Elliot Page for so many years and I loved Juno. I became obsessed with Whip It and even moreso when he came out as gay. And then now that he’s out as trans it feels so full circle for me.

  2. Drew, I know this is about movies, but I’d love to see your reading of Elliot’s performance as Mr. Lahey’s kid on the Trailer Park Boys series, it was the first role of theirs that I was reminded of after they came out.

  3. Didnt watch juno as a teen but it came out when i was pregnant with the child i placed for adoption so obviously still huge for me. Didnt understand why being pregnant seems like such a betrayal from my body until i realized im not a woman. Or why i was so adamant the dr remove my uterus which he refused.

  4. “Also their future mother-in-law hates them which feels vaguely trans.”
    as a transmasc person this hit right at home :) my partner’s mother-in-law asked him if i was a “lesbian” and he was “straight”

  5. Amazing write-ups, beautiful art! Thank you for redeeming Whip It! Seems worth a rewatch. Also, lol I wish this was more widely known so americans would lampoon this aspect of canadian culture instead of doing so many tired aboot jokes:

    “Something I learned doing this project is there are a lot of lowkey Canadian movies about really dark things.”

  6. Why are you referring to every movie that Page has been in as a trans film?And why are you misgendering all of Page’s characters? Page was female before he transitioned – so the roles that he played were all women.

    Page is a trans man. All of the. characters he played prior to transitioning were WOMEN.

    Get your facts straight.

  7. Triggerwarning: graphic sexual violence in the film” into the forest,”drew, can you be so kind , and edit that entry? Thanks
    Hope the hide button works , i am not internet savy.

    even rachel wood gets raped by a passerby stranger, it becomes pretty clear whats about to happen wgen they met outside her house
    hollywood and indie movies seems to like to cast her in These horrifying violent scenes ,see Westworld S1.
    this wonderful actress, having already experienced these twice in real life, not to mention an abusive RL,i worry how she got through these scenes , at least in westworld she can get revenge

  8. TBH, i have watched most of these movies and i didn’t pay that much attention on Elliot Page. It’s even my first time reading about Page. It have watched Inception, X-men movies. So, i’m gonna watch all the remaining movies, especially Whip It. Thanks for this wonderful post.

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