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Left: Oscar-nominated actor and trans advocate Elliot Page speaks about his new memoir, “Pageboy,” with Semafor executive editor Gina Chua. Right: Chasten Buttigieg speaks with CBS News correspondent David Begnaud. 2023 Library of Congress National Book Festival, August 12. Photo by Shawn Miller/Library of Congress.

A Teen “Take” on the National Book Festival: Stories of Pride

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This post was written by Khadija Khan, a 2023 Library of Congress High School intensive participant and teen volunteer at the National Book Festival. Khadija is a recent graduate of Hayfield Secondary School and incoming freshman at Harvard University. 

As we celebrate Pride Month, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on two speakers from the 2023 National Book Festival who I particularly looked forward to seeing. The 2023 National Book Festival featured a wide array of celebrated authors. With panels on everything from superheroes to the FBI, there was no shortage of interesting material to explore. But the two sessions I remember being most excited for last August were Chasten Buttigieg on his book “I Have Something to Tell You– For Young Adultsand Elliot Page on his memoir, “Pageboy.”

Author headshot of a man with glasses looking at the camera
Chasten Buttigieg’s headshot, as used at the National Book Festival 2023. Credit: Carina Teoh.

Admittedly, I mainly knew Chasten Buttigieg as the Secretary of Transportation’s husband. But over the presentation, Buttigieg won me over, using funny anecdotes and charm to recount experiences that resonated with the whole room.

In this talk, Buttigieg spoke about the difficulty of discovering himself and the slow but sure process of self acceptance. What really struck me was Buttigieg’s sincerity. He described experiences such as living in his car during college while wishing he’d had more time to figure out who he was and struggling with loneliness and suicidal thoughts, which were undoubtedly difficult to reflect on. But Buttigieg relayed them with a brutal honesty that underscored his reasons for writing an autobiography. 

“People would say, ‘Well, it gets better.’ And I was like, when?…How are you making it better for other people?” he questioned. Earlier in the panel, he said, “I wrote the book I wish I would have had in eighth grade.” With your family, watch the presentation below to learn how in writing “I Have Something to Tell You”, Buttigieg created the guide that he himself needed a a young person.

Timestamps of interest for discussions with teens and young people:

  • 7:40: Family conversations to support queer children 
  • 11:22: Coming out to older family members
  • 14:65: Being a queer public figure
  • 28:30: The importance of family support

With the young people in your life, discuss: What’s one book you wish that you could have read at a different point in your life? Think about books you’ve read in the past. How would they be different if you read them now? As a family activity, write a letter to your past self, inspired by Buttigieg’s work in this book.

Interview of a man wearing a striped white polo at the National Book Festival
Oscar-nominated actor and trans advocate Elliot Page speaks about his new memoir, “Pageboy,” with Semafor executive editor Gina Chua at the National Book Festival, August 12, 2023.

The second panel that I was looking forward to was seeing Elliot Page speak about his memoir, “Pageboy. As someone who’d grown up watching his movies, I was excited to hear his thoughts on discovering his identity through film. His insight on film didn’t disappoint;  Page detailed how queer media resonated with him. At minute 8:54 in the film embedded below, Page detailed how queer representation made him feel less alone. Page also discussed the terror of coming out, the relief of being himself, and the community he found as he navigated being a visible trans man. 

Although it was not filmed, the Q and A at the end of the panel really struck me. I noticed a palpable trend: the questions weren’t about what it was like to be Elliot Page, an actor who happens to be a trans man, but rather questions about what it was like to be a trans man, such as “What do you say to peers who refuse to call you your name?” One question stuck with me, a young student who avoided eye contact and asked “How do you come out when you’re already being bullied at school?” This question was asked hesitantly, their voice growing quieter as they spoke, and the audience went silent.

Page looked lost. “I wish I knew what to tell you,” he admitted softly. There are no easy answers. What can you say as an observer, a friend, a parent? “I was bullied myself,” Page said later. What do you do when someone who’s gone through the same thing you have can’t help you? There are no manuals that will teach you how to deal with gender identity. As I listened to the panel and the question and answers, I wondered if they were being asked because the young people asking them had no one else to talk to about their experiences. I wondered if Elliot was the first trans man they’d met who was out and proud, who could be an authority on the subject.

From my own experiences, this is why I think representation matters, and why Page’s memoir is important to me and other people my age and younger. Maybe it all can lead to a young person knowing they aren’t alone. If you’d like to hear about Page’s memoir, watch the recording of his presentation below with your family. 


  • 4:21: The positive impact of coming out
  • 6:28: Reflecting on the past after coming out 
  • 9:30: List of queer book recommendations 
  • 14:28: Advice for queer young adults 
  • 19:00: The importance of queer visibility

With the young people in your life, discuss the impact of media and representation on identity. How have books and movies influenced the way you see yourself?

As we commemorate Pride Month, make sure to check out the Library’s numerous LGBTQIA+ collections and educational resources:

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