Published on June 26th, 2023 | by Chris O'Connor
Pageboy: A Memoir Book Review
Summary: Being trans is hard enough... being trans in the world's spotlight just multiplies that to the nth degree. Elliot has been through so much and now shares some of what it has been like becoming their true self.
We’ve come a long way is a phrase that can certainly be used for many things. Civil rights, sexual equality are a few of the obvious ones. But the road is often rocky and it takes some very courageous people to take those first steps, or even to be some of the first to join the march to equality and respect. Elliot Page is one of those people. Pageboy is equal parts heartache and joy. The frustration of reading what Elliot went through, the sexual assaults/rape (my words not his), the attempts to force him to present a certain way, the pressure to be someone that other people wanted him to be when he just wanted to be his true self.
Pageboy mostly follows a chronological structure, there are occasional jumps to different time periods…. but predominantly it follows a fairly linear flow which I appreciate. There’s no holding back here either, family life, relationships it’s all on the pages and it gives a great context for everything Elliot has been through… the mistakes they themselves have made (and are open and honest about… which I also appreciate). When talking about some of the abhorrent behaviour they have experienced in Hollywood, they avoid naming names… at best they might give a position title (but there can be numerous people with that position on any given project). The curious side of me would love to know names but I appreciate and respect the leaving out of those details.
It’s hard reading of difficulties with family relationships especially when it comes to aspects of acceptance from parents. But it is also heart warming to read of situations in which people come around and actually change their views… learn to accept and embrace what they previously couldn’t understand. But Elliot hasn’t just had to deal with difficulties at home… when just about everything you do is caught on camera or recorded and presented to the world one way or another… anything and everything you do tends to get scrutinized. People speculating (or outright making claims about) your sexuality before you’ve even made any public statement one way or another would be hard to deal with. Having gender affirming surgery and the subsequent comments must be a bizarre experience.
Pageboy is an important memoir! It lays out just how important identity is, how important it is to be able to be yourself and not have to be what other people want you to be. I truly appreciate Elliot’s acknowledgement of their privilege (reminds me of Michael J. Fox in his autobiography… must be something in the water in Canada that produces considerate people who are self aware) when discussing what they have been able to achieve… but that doesn’t diminish any of what they have been through or how important it is that they are using that position to shine a light on areas that as a society we still have a long way to go.
If you are a fan of biographies generally then certainly grab a copy… it’s everything you could want in terms of being very honest and raw. If you feel you may be trans or you know someone who is… I suspect that reading Pageboy might well give you a bit more insight into what it’s all about and what options there are for support or ways to support those you know. I hope this book helps start conversations, opens some eyes and minds and helps everyone appreciate and respect individuals and their rights to be who they truly are without criticism or ridicule. Grab a copy and maybe share it with someone you know who might benefit from reading it as well.