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Natalie’s Pick of the Week: Pageboy by Elliot Page

“Let me just exist with you, happier than ever.”

For much of his life, Canadian actor Elliot Page experienced gender dysphoria that made him extremely uncomfortable in his own body. The intense pressure Page felt to dress and act in a certain way almost drove him to quit show business during the aftermath of his Oscar-nominated role in the 2007 film, Juno.

In 2014 Page came out as gay and all should have been well. And it sort of was. Until it wasn’t.

In Pageboy: a memoir, Page describes the gender dysphoria as “…a constant noise, a constant feeling that something’s wrong, like a sensation and a voice that’s telling you to flee.” Even though the dysphoria never faded, Page continued to work. Perhaps the constant state of motion created enough of a distraction, allowing Page to tune out the noise.

During the pandemic, in the silence and space of our world grinding to a halt, Page was finally able to “sit with myself and reflect — which became very difficult in some moments, but ultimately led me … to acknowledge and express my truth.” Page came out as a transgender man in December 2020.

Told in non-sequential flashbacks and flash-forwards, Pageboy chronicles Page’s journey to understand who he really was. Set against a backdrop of bullying, eating disorders, stalking, sexual harassment and crippling anxiety, Page eloquently escorts the reader, through his journey to piecing himself together. From his experiences as a young actor in Hollywood to struggles over body image and discovering himself as a queer and trans person, Page captures the joy and strength of truly being seen.

While I found the disjointed narrative difficult to “keep straight” [no pun intended], I felt the structure added to the feeling of being in Elliot’s body while he was experiencing gender dysmorphia. Page’s honesty, vulnerability, and willingness to share himself with the world is a triumph of character. I am grateful for Page for sharing his story.

Categories: Books and More

Tags: Books and More

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