▶ Watch Video: Elliot Page opens up to Oprah Winfrey in first TV interview since coming out as transgender

In his first television interview since coming out as transgender, actor Elliot Page said gender affirming health care was “life-saving” and warned of deadly consequences of legislative attacks on the rights of people who are transgender. 

In a candid conversation with Oprah Winfrey on her show “The Oprah Conversation” on Friday, Page discussed his difficult journey to coming out, and the relief he has felt since, telling Winfrey he wanted to show how critical adequate resources and healthcare are for transgender individuals. 

Page came out as transgender in December, and in an interview with Time Magazine in March, he announced that he’d had top surgery. When he spoke with Winfrey on Friday, Page said he now feels more like himself, and that little moments, like when he sees himself in a mirror, lead to “tears of joy.” 

“It’s getting out of the shower and the towel is around your waist and you’re looking at yourself in the mirror and you’re just like, ‘There I am.’ And I’m not having the moment where I’m panicked. I’m not having all of these little moments,” Page said. “Just being in a T-shirt. It’s being able to touch my chest and feel comfortable in my body — for the, probably the first time.”

Now, Page said, he has a “newfound energy, because it is such a freeing, freeing experience.” 

He described the experience as an “interesting dichotomy.” He said, “On some level it feels just like the most miraculous, amazing thing and it also is just sort of the experience of oh, there I am.”

But, he explained to Winfrey, this newfound feeling is one of privilege. “So much of the privilege I have, the ability to be here sitting here right now, is really because of so many trans women of color who have consistently put their lives on the line throughout history,” Elliot said. “I’m grateful to have the access to the resources I’ve had because I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t.”

Page told Winfrey he decided to be open about the fact that he had top surgery in order to show how important gender-affirming healthcare has been for him — and for others. “I wanted to share with people just how much it has changed my life. And I want people to know that not only has it, you know, been life changing for me. I do believe it’s life-saving, and it’s the case for so many people,” Page said.

Page also pointed at a surge in legislation that seeks to attack the rights of transgender individuals, particularly youth. Legislators have introduced more than 75 bills in 2020 and 2021 that specifically target transgender youth. Many of those bills dictate what kind of health care transgender children can receive and their access to school activities. 

“There is such an attack on trans health care right now, when already there is such lack of access or trans people who don’t even want to go to the doctor. What you are hearing from certain lawmakers are actual complete and utter— they’re lies in terms of what they’re saying about the health care,” Page said. “And the reality of the health care is that it’s supported by medical institutions and it saves lives. And if you are going to do this and if you are also not going to allow trans kids to play sports, children will die, and it really is that simple.”

The Trevor Project previously told CBS News that preliminary data from the organization’s 2021 survey shows that more than 90% of LGBTQ youth say recent politics have negatively influenced their well-being. And a March report from the organization estimated that every 45 seconds, at least one LGBTQ individual in the U.S. between the ages of 13 and 24 attempts suicide.

Page told Winfrey he hopes that more awareness about the experiences of transgender individuals will create better understanding of the issues they face.

“With this platform I have, the privilege that I have and knowing the pain and the difficulties and the struggles that I faced in my life — let alone what so many other people are facing,” Page said, “it absolutely felt just crucial and important for me to share that.”