As Season Three of Umbrella Academy wraps, the cast and production have revealed that Elliot Page, who uses both he and they pronouns, is returning to the show as Viktor Hargreeves. Previously playing a character named Vanya, the change comes in the wake of Page’s own announcement of their transgender identity, and was very likely done to reflect Page’s own transition.
As a transgender nerd, I cannot overstate how thrilled I am to see this kind of change happen. Besides the fact that this might be a historic rewriting—it’s hard to recall a character has ever changed gender because the actor playing them has transitioned—just the fact that there’s enough respect between Page and the show to adjust the character to suit his new gender is incredibly heartening. It’s incredibly difficult to be transgender in any setting, but Page is a wildly popular and visible transmasculine person in an industry that places a lot of weight on appearance and respectability.
The embrace of Page’s identity will make it easier for Page to land new roles in the future and will help bring more trans people into Hollywood as actors first and trans people second. This change also signals to other productions that they can change a character to suit an actor of any gender (not just trans folks) in order to better respect the actor playing the role and allow for more gender equity in television across the board. At the end of the day, Page deserves to take roles and work on productions that will honor, even celebrate, his gender identity. Umbrella Academy took steps to ensure that Page not only felt comfortable working on set, but had the opportunity to take his character in a new direction… something that all actors should be able to do.
Umbrella Academy Season 3 releases on Netflix Wednesday, June 22.
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