✫ Amateur Books ✭ Author Thomas Page McBee – Stevemiddleton.info
This book blew me away I read pretty much everything I can find on masculinity and this was a one of a kind read As a trans man McBee navigates a great deal of his external gender socialization with a deep attentiveness, tenderness, and patience Watching the way he grabs a piece of masculinity, rolls it around, looks at it, and considers if he wants it to be absorbed into his identity is powerful It gives me hope for the challenge of becoming, of imagining new masculinities that break from a long history of violence, shame, and domination What a great read. I thought about being a white man in America I thought about my pay raises, the assumptions of competency, the sudden freedom to walk alone at night, the way my body has transitioned from threatened to threat I thought about the advantages thrown at me for an aesthetic that looked like a birthright I thought about passing, and how it erased a part of me, and how hormones responded to context, and how race and masculinity were inventions that benefited me, and what I could do to challenge that 152 153 I want to preface this by saying that I am trying to be a better advocate for rights across all spectrums and sometimes I might say something that isn t inherently true or might come across the wrong way I want to be the best ally that I can be, so if anything is wrong, please let me know, so I can change the way I behave I want to give this to everyone I know because it is such an inspiring story that offers a lot of insight into a world that a lot of us don t understand I will never know the plights of a trans person, but I can learn to walk around in their skin To understand the hardships, the confusion, and the external and internal struggles that go with being a trans person.This is about the first transgender person, Thomas Page McBee, to box in Madison Square Garden, and what it means to be a man I found this read fascinating because I have never once thought about what it must be like to re enter the world as a different gender The advantages received from being a man and falling into the habits of toxic masculinity in order to fit his gendered role in society All the inner conflicts he has tells a greater story of what it is like being a trans individual in Trump s America He was always able to look at his life before and after the transition and offer us a real look at the gender inequalities he has faced on both sides His Before self was always shut out from promotions, underpaid, and would receive less credibility His After self can gain the attention of every single person in a room gets promotions, and pay raises Trans people have the best understanding of what the gender gap is like having lived on both sides of it We are so busy fitting ourselves into boxes, and never stepping out of them, that we don t take the time to learn how our actions are damaging to society The worst part is that so much of our toxic actions happen subconsciously I think that having gender roles in place has really hampered what it means to be human I think in order for a memoir to be effective it has to expand your mind I learned so much in so few pages and I will always remember this book when I think of the internal and external fights that trans individuals must face every day. I have asked myself questions about what masculinity is countless times I think Thomas was the first to give me an answer I was satisfied with As a trans guy interested in better understanding myself, I have read plenty of books that spoke about transitioning and finding one s place in a newly perceived identity but within the same flesh and blood This book provided an refreshingly honest look into one man s life and how he navigates through those questions Too often, I think, it is easy to get caught up in the negativity of masculinity, the way it can erode away a man, a society, a loved one looking on Thomas is able to articulate, validate, disprove just speak truth to these concepts in a way that, frankly, I have a hard time re articulating but firmly believe He reveals beauty in the identity of manhood that I think I myself was having a hard time seeing He is able to capture the fight I know for myself that took place that takes place moving from one realm to another in a way that no other book I have read has been able to accomplish Thomas Page McBee validates my reality in a way I did not know I needed but am thankful to have found.Overall, Thomas awareness of self, perceived and actual, are truly heroic I found myself nodding a lot while reading, stopping to contemplate an exchange he highlighted, a feeling within my core of the joy one feels when witnessing the making of a man knowing himself. I m so thankful for the way McBee put into words so much of what I ve often felt about masculinity I don t know if I ve ever felt as seen as I did reading this book This is an important read, not just for other trans men, but for people of all genders who are trying to figure out what to do with the social power they ve been given. This is worth the read, but its weaknesses are hard to overlook It seems to be part of some sort of publishing boom in trans memoirs, and while I m grateful that there are books to fill the demand, this one fell short for me I guess it s because I ve heard many parallel insights about the tragedy of contemporary toxic masculinity from other GNC, transmasculine, and transmen or even other books Stone Butch Blues comes to mind From that perspective, the conceit of boxing felt artificial or even overblown I liked the book s framing question why do men fight But the answer never felt like the author believed it Perhaps this would have been much better in a shorter form, say a long read or a piece in the New Yorker The author certainly excels in those forms and I hope that as he grows as an author, his books get solid. From BBC radio 4 Book of the week Thomas Page McBee, a trans man, trains to fight in a charity match at New York s Madison Square Garden, while struggling to untangle the vexed relationship between masculinity and violence.Through his experience of boxing learning to get hit and to hit back, wrestling with the camaraderie of the gym, confronting the betrayals and strengths of his own body McBee examines male violence, the pervasiveness of gender stereotypes and the limitations of conventional masculinity It s a graceful and uncompromising exploration of living, fighting and healing.Thomas Page McBee is a journalist and commentator currently living in New York His first book, Man Alive 2014 , was an account of the emotional and physical complexity underlying the process of gender reassignment, and also explored his early years and the sexual abuse he suffered, perpetrated by his stepfather Amateur was shortlisted for the 2018 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non Fiction.Written and read by Thomas Page McBeeAbridged by Jill Waters Produced by Jill WatersA Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4https www.bbc.co.uk programmes m000 Maggie Nelson said that this book was like sitting with someone uncurling his hands, than holding them out to you, open, so that you can behold all the hard won strength, insight, agility and love to be found there and I think that s true This is a vital trans narrative about becoming and fighting and masculinity There s bloodiness and tenacity in it, but also gentleness. I loved McBee s first memoir, Man Alive, And was thrilled to pick up his latest and chat briefly with him at an event last fall It was lovely to finally settle down to read it at last This is a thoughtful exploration of masculinity, written from an interesting perspective since, as a post transition trans man, McBee has lived as both a woman and a man He s noticed that now his voice has deepened and he wields masculine authority, his words and presence are given weight at work, for example In an effort to be a feminist ally he s finding that he needs to be mindful of speaking over women or inadvertently presenting a potential physical threat Interesting stuff I also thought how he applied and personalized academic work on passing was very interesting The narrative arc of the book is provided by his training to box in a charity match in Madison Square Garden, which gives him the opportunity to probe ideas about masculine aggression and male bonding in some really neat ways As in Man Alive, I found him a very compassionate writer. Only four years after finally getting the male body he always knew he was, transman Thomas McBee convinces an editor to enter him in a charity boxing match at Madison Square Garden No, he s never boxed before He mostly runs, and that s the kind of body he has 5 6 tall, and 130 pounds skinny, for anyone who thinks in metric and not US measurements Since becoming perceived as fully male rather than female or not quite defined, Thomas has found himself in unnerving confrontations with random men who want to fight him, and learning something about fighting seems like a practical response Immersing himself in New York s boxing gyms and learning how to fight forces him to spend a lot of time thinking about maleness, culture, socialization, and why it s assumed that men are just naturally violent and prone to fighting It helps that he gets paid to research and write about this for his job This volume doesn t cover a lot of ground that hasn t been explored and written about in any number of other books about society and gender BUT, it pulls a lot of that ground together in one easy to read because the writing style flows really well , relatively short book that is intersectional and also deeply personal I am, as always, fond of any book that uses sports athletic endeavor to highlight social cultural political issues Also, this is the only book about gender issues that I know of that s written by a transman, and it would make a good companion volume to Whipping Girl which explores femininity from the perspective of a transwoman But whoa, the differences between becoming a socially recognized man versus becoming a socially recognized woman Thomas writes about how his voice became very deep shortly after he started on testosterone, and how all of a sudden people began to actually listen to him, rather than talking over him at meetings, or interrupting him all the time On one hand, he s painfully aware of this and how he was never treated with this kind of respect when he was seen and heard as female, even though he s saying the exact same things On the other hand, he finds himself easily falling into this newfound male privilege, and talking over and interrupting women himself all the time now that he s seen as having authority He tells a self shaming story about how he and his brother both shut their sister down and right out of a conversation about boxing even though she probably knows about it than either of them and it took Thomas s girlfriend pointing it out later for him to even notice He eventually apologized, but not before struggling for a while with the idea that men should never apologize for anything He also gets hired for a job based on his potential, something that never got applied to him when he was seen as a woman These stories made me so angry, because what are women supposed to do to get taken seriously If even a man who has experienced being talked over and interrupted all the time can t stop himself from doing those things once he gets the right to do so, what hope is there for men who ve grown up with this as their birthright, so accepted that it s invisible It doesn t seem practical or desirable for every cis woman to start using testosterone to get deep voices so people will listen to us, so it s really frustrating to read about how easily women s voices are dismissed by, sadly, both men and other women Maybe someday we can type what we want to say into our phones and they will speak it with the deepest most boomingest voices ever But I d rather be taken seriously with the voice I have I will also confess that Thomas s experiences ticked me off because I ve got two inches in height and 40 pounds, much of it muscle, on him, which do nothing to gain me any respect among men outside of an athletic environment Men often either ignore my athleticism, or, worse, openly resent it and act like I stole either their or someone else s masculinity somehow Hahahahaha, I laugh hollowly If only It s only that all important perception of maleness, especially straight white maleness, that counts in the world Which makes it sound like it should be really easy to just start functioning as a man, what with all the respect and privilege now being thrown his way, but I was touched by how much Thomas struggled with trying to figure out what the guy rules are He discovers that men police each other all the time, lest other men somehow ruin all masculinity by not being masculine enough This stuff kicked me in the gut, because I grew up in a very boy family where I got socialized with guy rules along with my brothers never show emotion except anger and contempt never show weakness don t use words to try to get what you want use your body to dominate never ask questions or for directions never show empathy shrug off any offers of empathy towards you because you re tough and don t need it try to make women express emotion for you etc , none of which worked for me a as a woman because people are appalled by women acting like this, and b as a human being I ve spent a lot of my adult life suffering from these lessons and trying to unlearn them And it s my b there that Thomas and some other men seem to find themselves feeling constrained by and frustrated over How can you be a full human being if you re cutting yourself off from so much human experience Particularly in places like the US, where being a man is largely defined as not being a woman, what does that negative allow a person to be If women are strong, intelligent, creative, honorable, protective, self sufficient, etc., what are men allowed to be if they re trying to define themselves as not The other point that really struck me was a discussion about what counts as a legitimate target for aggression Male violence may be viewed as something we all just have to live with and accept tolerate, but men aren t allowed to beat up other men who have power over them employers, for instance , no matter what kind of jerks those powerful men may be So there also have to be people that frustrated, angry men feel entitled to dominate people who are weaker and or have less power But at the same time, aren t men supposed to protect people who are weaker and have less power I tend to feel highly protective of women who are smaller and weaker than I am, for instance Sometimes I wonder how much of our gender beliefs are based on size and strength, rather than hormones or anything else inherent to our make up So the idea that it s manly to harm smaller, weaker, powerless beings seems to me like a potential source of major cognitive dissonance I ll end my long essay here But as you can tell from this review, this book provides lots to think about regarding what makes a man And, in connection, what makes a woman Or a human being This book makes a solid argument that we should all be chafing at the straitjacket of gender constraints, and aiming to be as fully human, period, as we can manage. From An Award Winning Writer Whose Work Bristles With Hard Won Strength, Insight, Agility, And Love Maggie Nelson , An Exquisite And Troubling Narrative Of Masculinity, Violence, And Society.In This Groundbreaking New Book, The Author, A Trans Man, Trains To Fight In A Charity Match At Madison Square Garden While Struggling To Untangle The Vexed Relationship Between Masculinity And Violence Through His Experience Boxing Learning To Get Hit, And To Hit Back Wrestling With The Camaraderie Of The Gym Confronting The Betrayals And Strength Of His Own Body McBee Examines The Weight Of Male Violence, The Pervasiveness Of Gender Stereotypes, And The Limitations Of Conventional Masculinity A Wide Ranging Exploration Of Gender In Our Society, Amateur Is Ultimately A Story Of Hope, As McBee Traces A New Way Forward, A New Kind Of Masculinity, Inside The Ring And Outside Of It.In This Graceful, Stunning, And Uncompromising Exploration Of Living, Fighting, And Healing, We Gain Insight Into The Stereotypes And Shifting Realities Of Masculinity Today Through The Eyes Of A New Man.