Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Not Another TG Story by Courtney Captisa and Claire Bear

Despite the rather cheeky title, Not Another TG Story is neither a parody nor a deconstruction of the genre. Instead, it's a loving homage to the stories, novels, and captions that Courtney Captisa and Claire Bear have enjoyed over the years. They've managed to capture several of the most common transgender themes and tropes within their story, but they've done so in a manner that's both playful and surprising. It does create a little confusion at times, but it's very much deliberate, playing on the reader's expectations to create a little mystery and doubt.

Truly, this is a story that has it all, from transvestite fetishism to true transsexualism; awkward expression to hidden identities; humiliation to encouragement; and self-doubt to coming out. Some elements may work better for certain readers than others, but it's fantastic to find so much within one story.

I had a few minor concerns with the story, but nothing that completely pulled me from within Dylan's world. For instance, I thought his sister was a little too cruel and vulgar with her taunts, his family a little too quick to accept certain changes, and his own transformation a little too perfect, but there's definitely an element of wish-fulfillment to the tale that you have to appreciate. For a while, I was concerned that his best friend's story seemed to be forgotten, but rest assured that Kyle does return to sort of bring the story full-circle by the end.

The amount of detail here, particularly in Dylan's dressing, is absolutely exquisite. It's not just the look and feel of the clothes, but the emotional and psychological aspect of wearing them. We get deep into questions of feminine identity and feminine expression here, and it's more that enough to satisfy any reader, no matter how they identify themselves. There are some R-rated scenes of sexual exploration, but they're tastefully done and entirely in fitting with the flow of the story. Also, while it's not a parody, there is quite a bit of humor to the tale, sometimes at Dylan's expense, but more often along the lines of a situation comedy, with humorous circumstances.

As the title promises, this is Not Another TG Story, but is a fun one. Courtney and Claire demonstrate an honest love and appreciation for the genre, with a story that's unquestionably ambitious, but which delivers from start to finish.

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