Grandmother graciously thanks Elliot Page for helping her grandchild come out as trans: ‘It means the world’

Vic Parsons
·3-min read

A 75-year-old grandmother has thanked Elliot Page for coming out, which has helped her own trans granddaughter to “live openly with freedom”.

Maryann Durmer, who describes herself as a “white, heterosexual cisgender woman who was raised in an authoritarian home”, wrote a moving personal essay for the Huffington Post called “A Love Letter To My Granddaughter (Who I Knew As My Grandson Until 5 Weeks Ago)”.

In the piece, Durmer says she is “grateful” that Elliot Page came out, thanking him for “using your fame and visibility to help other people”.

“Elliot Page recently announced that he is transgender, and as the grandmother of a transgender young woman, I am grateful that he did,” she wrote.

Durmer’s piece was published on Christmas Day, five months after her 22-year-old granddaughter came out as trans.

“When I heard the news,” Durmer said, “I texted her: ‘I talked to your dad last night. I’m so happy you came out, and I support you 100 per cent. I just wanted to stop by and tell you I love you. If there’s anything I can do to help you, I’m here.'”

Admitting that she’d spent the past six months wondering if her granddaughter was transitioning, Durmer said that that she feels the most important thing she can do is to try to understand “people who are different to me”.

“Like many others, I realised that organised religion messed me up and that I needed to rethink my biases and understanding of sexuality and gender,” she said.

“Maybe, in some cases, understanding a transgender person is easier for a non-family member,” Durmer continued. “There are no emotional bonds and no history with that person to look back on and reminisce about.

“But when it’s your grandchild who is transgender, it’s complicated. I worry that I may do or say something wrong by accident. Saying a new name after knowing a person for 20-plus years isn’t easy. It’s not just about my granddaughter changing. It’s also that I have no ‘how-to’ manual for processing my memories of my former grandson.

“All I know is that I love my granddaughter.”

Durmer has researched gender-affirming healthcare, issues that trans and non-binary people face, and watched films and read books to better understand her granddaughter’s experience.

“This new knowledge helps me to support my granddaughter,” Durmer writes, but adds that this “doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to change my ways” and says she has struggled with mistakenly using her granddaughters dead name.

“But I am committed to doing everything I can to embrace her as the beautiful young woman she is (including apologising if I do make a mistake), and I want to learn as much as possible to help our whole family make this transition easier for my new granddaughter,” Durmer said. “After all, a matriarch’s position should not be underestimated.”

Durmer, who went to “12 years of Catholic school in a middle-class white Bronx neighbourhood”, says she has been praying that her granddaughter is protected from “the hate and intolerance often expressed openly by people in the state where she lives”.

But most importantly, she prays that her granddaughter can live her truth.

“To my granddaughter, I say: Thank you for teaching me the value of living an authentic life,” she concluded her essay. “I am proud to be your grandmother. And as my thoughts and heart transition to embrace this new you, please know one thing isn’t changing ― I love you.”