Becoming a Man: The Story of a Transition

S. & S. Jan. 2020. 240p. ISBN 9781982105099. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781982105112. SOC SCI
Carl marks his debut with a series of chapters that read more like individual essays than a continuous narrative. He describes the challenges and triumphs of his transition from publicly presenting as a queer woman to a man. Meditations include the influence of Carl’s father on his own experience and presentation of manhood, the obstacles his transition posed to his marriage and to his wife’s identity as a lesbian woman, and the privilege Carl now experiences as a white man. Introspective and self-interrogating, this story of gender transition offers a nuanced perspective, which helps pluralize and diversify descriptions of the experience. Carl’s prose is generally clear, though in the chapter “Traveling with Men,” a story that details a hiking expedition and which juggles several personalities, Carl sometimes struggles with clarity. But throughout, Carl offers a level of intimacy and self-reflection that is fairly unique, especially given the highly personal content.
VERDICT This is a memoir of the present, without closure or resolution, and the narrative sometimes feels incomplete or unsatisfying. Still, many readers will appreciate Carl’s honesty and perhaps read this work alongside Charlie Cragg’s excellent anthology, To My Trans Sisters.

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