Elliot Page and Matrix’s Lilly Wachowski join legal battle against Arkansas trans healthcare ban

Side by side images of Elliot Page and Lilly Wachowski

Elliot Page and Matrix director Lilly Wachowski have joined forces to support a lawsuit fighting a cruel anti-trans law in Arkansas.

Dozens of trans advocates, including Page and Wachowski, filed an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit against Arkansas’s first-in-the-nation law.

House Bill 1570 legally prohibits medical professionals in the state from offering healthcare such as puberty blockers and hormone treatment to trans youth.

It was passed into law in April after the state’s legislature opted to override governor Asa Hutchinson’s initial veto.

As part of an ongoing lawsuit by the ACLU, 58 trans adults offered their insights in the amicus briefing on how receiving gender-affirming care including puberty blockers, surgery and other treatments has had on their lives.

Elliot Page said that he felt infinitely more creative after he had top surgery as he didn’t have to live with the “discomfort” of living with that “aspect” of his body.

“I couldn’t believe the amount of energy I had, ideas, how my imagination flourished, because the constant discomfort and pain around that aspect of my body was gone,” they said.

The Umbrella Academy star added that he valued the “moments when I connect with those who have been moved by my journey” or hearing how his work has “positively impacted” the lives of others.

poses on the runway during the Balenciaga Spring/Summer 2022 show

Elliot Page poses on the runway during the Balenciaga Spring/Summer 2022 show as part of Paris Fashion Week. (Getty/ Richard Bord)

Lilly Wachowski said in the filing that her films “at their core try to centre love and connectivity”, and she’s “proud to have lifted up” queer and trans voices “in front of as well as behind the camera”.

She also recalled how her heart would “skip a beat” when she could “catch short sharp glimpses” of her reflection after she “started living as my true self”.

“The silhouette of my shadow on the ground cast by the afternoon sun was exhilarating and life affirming,” she said. “If no one else did, the sun saw me as I am.”

YouTuber star and trans activist Jazz Jennings was also among those supporting the lawsuit. She recalled in the brief how access to gender-affirming care helped her live a “happy childhood” and overcome dysphoria.

“I never looked masculine,” Jennings said. “I developed alongside my peers as a female teenager.”

She continued: “I was able to lead a happy childhood because I was able to live as the girl I knew I was.”

Arkansas trans healthcare ban blocked by judge

The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the state of Arkansas on behalf of four families of trans youth and two doctors in May. A short while later, a federal judge temporarily blocked the law from going into effect as it’s being debated in courts.

The recent ACLU brief was filed alongside several others from trans youth, medical groups, international groups, a coalition of 21 states and bioethicists.

A landmark study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health last month revealed that offering gender-affirming hormone therapy to trans youths who want it can literally save lives.

A peer-reviewed study by the Trevor Project, a US-based LGBT+ suicide prevention organisation, revealed that trans youth who take gender-affirming hormone therapy are nearly 40 per cent less likely to have been depressed or attempted suicide in the last year compared with trans youth who wanted hormones but didn’t receive them.

Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of the Trevor Project, said that banning gender-affirming care and “exposing young people to harmful political rhetoric” can “cause real harm”.

“It’s critical that all transgender and non-binary youth across the country have access to medical care that is affirming, patient-centred and evidence-based,” Paley said.