By Jennifer Maas | the wrap

In his first interview since coming out as transgender in December, actor Elliot Page said he had recently undergone top surgery that was “not only life-changing but lifesaving.”

In a cover story in Time magazine published Tuesday, Page emphasized that surgery is not a central part of transitioning for everyone, but said that for him, “It has completely transformed my life” after the “total hell” of puberty.

The “Umbrella Academy” actor also said that his coming out has been both a challenge — and an opportunity to share his experience as a transgender person. “Extremely influential people are spreading these myths and damaging rhetoric — every day you’re seeing our existence debated,” Page said in the interview, which is the first he’s given since disclosing his trans identity. “Transgender people are so very real.”

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