Transgender Men and the Remaking of Identity
by Arelene Stein
A sociologist examines the choices made by several individuals who had elective surgery to remove their breasts. Most- but not all- identified as male and had the procedure to address gender dysphoria. I thought this was going to be a volume of personal stories- their personalities, struggles, reasons for choosing the surgery, how their lives were changed by it, and so on. It is, but it\’s also a lot more. The book is just as much about social norms and how they are changing in regards to gender identities, how perceptions are shifting and how they might continue to evolve. It\’s got quite a lot on the history of LGBTQ rights. It\’s about the importance of people feeling comfortable with who they are, and making the choice to do something often considered drastic- altering body parts- so that other people will see them as they see themselves. Those who agreed to share their stories here- the author meets them in the surgical clinic, visits them in recovery, and follows up with a few several months later to see how they are doing- are very different in circumstance. They don\’t all have the same reasons or needs- one doesn\’t even identify as trans. Some have family support and others don\’t. Some felt dysphoric and others didn\’t. I\’m glad the author shows people beyond the stereotypes. Sounds like they were all happy with the results. It was really interesting to read the more detailed examination of how their lives were different afterwards- not only how it affected their families, their employment, the reactions (or rather, easy acceptance) of strangers to their changed appearance, and their own individual self-perception. I did think it a little strange when the author compared trans men to lesbians, going into some tangents on how the feminist movement has changed over recent years as gender is being understood in new ways. This book is a lot more dense with more information than I expected it to contain, so I\’ve actually been reading it in pieces over the past six weeks. Sometimes it was just difficult to get through a single chapter. While I didn\’t always agree with the author\’s viewpoint and some of her statements made me feel uncomfortable, I do feel like I have a better understanding now. Or at least, I would hope that I do.
Borrowed from the public library.
Rating: 3/5 339 pages, 2018