SIR: JUST A NORMAL GUY

Sir: Just A Normal Guy chronicles a man’s journey from physical womanhood to physical manhood through clips from several lengthy interviews done at various stages throughout the process.

Before we meet Jay, though, we are shown snippets of interviews with a couple of his acquaintances, including his best friend and ex-husband. Right from the start, everyone refers to Jay (formerly “Jennifer”) as “he” and “him,” even though he hasn’t undergone any hormone treatments yet. The first Jay we’re introduced to, basically a woman with more hair on his legs than on his head, tells us about his reasons for choosing to become a man and his excitement for the upcoming T-shot (testosterone shot).

The film fast-forwards through several years in Jay’s life, letting us get to know him as a charming, personable individual while detailing the different aspects of the female-to-male transition: We witness the deepening of his voice, the appearance of chest and facial hair, the broadening of his shoulders, even the growth of his clitoris into a “dicklet.” Eventually, Jay even undergoes “top surgery” (his breasts are removed). About mid-way through the transition, Jay comes onscreen and you find yourself so convinced, you’re wondering how he could ever have been convincing as a woman.

It is at this stage in Jay’s transition that we meet his girlfriend, whose name escapes me, probably because I was too busy marvelling at the fact that she had no eyebrows. In an interview, she informs us that she still “identifies” as a lesbian, even though she thinks of Jay as a man. She teeters on the brink of being interesting: “Some people think that my continuing to identify as a lesbian somehow diminishes or undermines Jay’s transition.” Sitting in the audience, I eagerly awaited her response to this valid observation, but all she gave us was a huffy cop-out: “Well, those people are entitled to their opinion, I don’t care.”

The wait for some new development or perspective on the issue characterizes the final quarter or two of the film. What’s disappointing is the fact that none ever comes. Jay and his girlfriend keep talking about what a happy, normal life they’re leading, but not much else. We are shown no further developments in Jay’s transition, either. I guess I just have a hard time believing that the years-long transition was as emotionally and mentally lightweight as it was portrayed. It would have been interesting to see interviews with Jay when he wasn’t feeling so optimistic about the massive changes he was going through, or was more discouraged about his deteriorating familial relations than the cheerfully ambivalent attitude we see in the film. The way the director decided to approach the subject, though, Sir was certainly an engaging look at a subject I’ve wondered about for years—it simply should have ended 20 minutes before it did.

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