Thursday, November 24, 2016

Just Your Average Guy by Paul Jason

I have read a lot of transgender biographies and memoirs over the years, but I must say that Just Your Average Guy is one of the most unique. It is not so much a story about crossdressing as it is about a man who crossdresses. That may sound like a small distinction, but it really does loom large over the text, especially towards the end.

Paul Jason writes with a comfortable, engaging style that is honest and sincere - sometimes painfully so. Although he has lived the story, he almost writes from outside it, ensuring that his tale is accessible to all readers, and not just those who consider themselves a part of the transgender community. Similarly, while he is not shy about sharing his personal thoughts on crossdressing, he avoids getting too deep into the self-psychoanalysis that can often weigh down these kinds of stories.

Overall, Just Your Average Guy has a sad, melancholy feel to it, but it also filled with moments of humor and happiness. Paul invites us on a journey of self-discovery, reflecting back on the lonely struggles of coming to terms with his crossdressing in a pre-internet era. His earliest crossdressing is marred by the guilt he feels for wearing his mother's clothes, and plagued by the constant fear of getting caught. Even once he moves out, gets a place of his own, and starts building his own closet, that fear and that guilt never goes away . . . it just changes focus. The lengths he goes to in protecting his secret are incredible, but he does a fantastic job of conveying the terror all crossdressers share at some point. My heart raced alongside his when mom suggested using his flat while he's on vacation, and I shared his gut-wrenching sorrow at being forced to discard everything to protect himself.

As for it being a unique tale, I appreciated that there was no sexual element to his crossdressing, and no deep-seated gender confusion behind his identity. He was never aroused by crossdressing, and never felt the urge to become a woman. In fact, when talking of his earliest experiments, Paul is very clear about not feeling the need to stuff a bra, cinch his waist, or do anything else to fabricate a feminine figure. He takes comfort in the clothes and the cosmetics, and finds a sense of peace in his crossdressing, but he never loses sight of who he is beneath it all.

When Paul and I chatted a bit about the book, he warned that it was a little controversial in places and at first glance it is, but it really shouldn't be. Yes, some readers may take issue the terms and how he feels about them, but you have to take it in context of growing up in a pre-internet era where those terms came with heavy baggage. Other readers may take issue with his thoughts on why cross-dressers should not call themselves a femme name, any why it's crazy to want to be accepted as someone else. I have to admit, that initially struck a chord with me, but I can't necessarily disagree with his reasoning, especially when he talks about double standards, and most certainly not when he shares his idea of freedom:
"My ideal is that I could wear my hair long, dye it vivid colours, wear make-up and feminine clothes, and still be called ‘sir’ without it being used in a derogatory ‘I’ve read you’ kind of way. "
For me, 'Sally' is something of a different identity, but one borne out of necessity. If f we lived in a world where we could crossdress comfortably, be socially accepted, and not have to wrap ourselves in fear every time we step outside the house . . . well, being Just Your Average Guy could have a whole other meaning, and I think that could be wonderful.

No comments:

Post a Comment