Title: Finding Masculinity: Female to Male Transition in Adulthood
Author Name: Alexander Walker and Emmett J.P. Lundberg
Publication Date & Length: May 12, 2015 – 358 pgs
“Living out something you’ve spent countless hours daydreaming about and wondering about is an experience that isn’t easily put into words.” – Will Krisanda
Finding Masculinity is a collection of stories from a small cross section of the transgender male community that shares insight into the diversity of life experiences of transgender men, beyond the traditional narrative.
This anthology examines the many facets of life that transition impacts; transitioning on the job, emotional and spiritual growth, family, navigating the medical community, as well as romantic relationships. The stories within come from scientists, teachers, fathers, veterans, and artists who share how being visible as the masculine humans they identify as has developed, changed, and evolved their sense of masculinity.
This is a collection of essays by trans men on various elements of their coming out and becoming the men they were meant to be. It is a good and important read for anyone who wants to begin to understand what it’s like to have been designated female at birth and come to understand oneself as male.
As much as I enjoyed the anthology, and as much as I believe it should be read widely, I did have a few issues. The first was that the format did not work for me at all. It felt as though these men were sent a list of interview questions and instructed to answer it school-essay style. I felt that some of what appeared in the section introducing the contributors was restated in their later sections, and I found myself skimming at times. It would have worked far better for each person to simply have told his story in one complete chapter. They felt a bit too blog-post for my taste, and not all were particularly well-written (barring Mitch Kellaway, who was an absolute delight to read).
The second thing I noticed was that it was overwhelmingly representative of straight/opposite-sex-partnered, white, middle-class, exclusively male-identified people between mid-twenties and early forties. I found that (again, except for Mitch Kellaway–specifically his essay on fatherhood and transition) there was a focus on a particular type of masculinity rather than a broad range of what makes a man or how one develops manhood. There was a heavy emphasis on medical transition as well. Perhaps the experiences of the editors sculpted the book’s landscape, or perhaps they have in mind to continue their work. I would love to see follow-ups that focus on men of color, non-binary male-spectrum people, men who chose not to medically transition, youth, and men who came out/transitioned late in life. Hopefully, if this book gains traction, that can become a reality.
Despite those concerns, I still strongly recommend this as a first step book on the experiences of trans men. This is one of many necessary books on the subject of what it’s like to be trans in current western society.
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