Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man

Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man

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 mas...

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Title:Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man
Author:Thomas Page McBee
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Edition Language:English

Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man Reviews

  • Libby

    Wow. This might be my new favorite book. What a powerful read. To think about what it's like to be a man when you know first-hand how the world feels for women... incredible. Truly incredible.

  • Caden

    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

    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.

    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.

  • Austen

    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.

  • Ryan

    “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 tha

    “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.

  • Jos

    I read this book because I wanted an answer to a question that I've been asking myself for a very long time: what it means to be a man. Of course, actually answering that question is probably impossible, but I did hope to get an interesting perspective on it by reading this.

    Amateur follows the author as he is training for a boxing match. He tells about his relationships with the men and women he meets on his journey and in his past. Meanwhile, he explains various concepts about masculinity, esp

    I read this book because I wanted an answer to a question that I've been asking myself for a very long time: what it means to be a man. Of course, actually answering that question is probably impossible, but I did hope to get an interesting perspective on it by reading this.

    Amateur follows the author as he is training for a boxing match. He tells about his relationships with the men and women he meets on his journey and in his past. Meanwhile, he explains various concepts about masculinity, especially toxic masculinity. I found it really interesting when he told that Danish men view being a man as not being a boy, whereas American men view it as not being a woman. I would have liked it if he would have elaborated more on the idea that masculinity and femininity don't have to be opposites.

    Furthermore, I really liked that the author uses his experiences as a transgender man in his explanations. In my experience, being trans gives you a better view on gender, as you are able to seperate it from your biological sex more easily than cis people.

    There were more interesting ideas in this book, but I had expected more of the conclusion. To the question what it means to be a man, the author answers that he doesn't think there is a defenition, and that it's just a category to be put in. While I partly agree with this, I don't think it tells the whole story. Personally, I'm not transitioning to be put into another category. I'm transitioning become myself.

  • Rebecca

    Thomas Page McBee was the first transgender man to box at Madison Square Garden. In his second memoir, which arose from a

    article entitled “Why Men Fight,” he recounts the training leading up to his charity match and ponders whether aggression is a natural male trait. McBee grew up in a small town outside Pittsburgh with a stepfather who sexually abused him from age four. In 2011 he started the testosterone injections that would begin his gender transformation. During the years that follo

    Thomas Page McBee was the first transgender man to box at Madison Square Garden. In his second memoir, which arose from a

    article entitled “Why Men Fight,” he recounts the training leading up to his charity match and ponders whether aggression is a natural male trait. McBee grew up in a small town outside Pittsburgh with a stepfather who sexually abused him from age four. In 2011 he started the testosterone injections that would begin his gender transformation. During the years that followed, other men seemed to pick fights with him fairly often, and he was unsure what to do about it. Finally, in 2015, the Manhattan editor decided to confront the belligerent male stereotype by starting boxing training.

    What I most appreciated were the author’s observations of how others have related to him since his transition. He notices that he’s taken more seriously at work as a man, and that he can be an object of fear – when jogging behind a woman at night, for instance. One of the most eye-opening moments of the book is when he realizes that he’s been talking over his own sister. Thankfully, McBee is sensitive enough to stop and change, recognizing that kindness and vulnerability are not faults but attributes any person should be proud of.

    I have a feeling I would have preferred his previous memoir,

    , which sounds like it has more about the transition itself. Jonathan Eig’s

    is one of the best books I’ve read this year, and in comparison I didn’t find the boxing writing here very interesting. Likewise, this pales beside two similar but more perceptive books I’ve read that have been hugely influential on my own understanding of gender identity:

    by Jan Morris and

    by Maggie Nelson.

    Originally published on my blog,

    .

  • Rebecca

    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.

  • Eli

    Eh. It was particularly interesting to read this immediately following reading Janet Mock’s newest memoir, which I devoured in less than 24 hours. This one I had to take breaks from and come back to because, frankly, I got sick of him. I as a transmasculine person am desperate for stories with which I can identify, but oddly I identified more with her story and her analysis than with his, a story about a man training to box and grappling with questions about masculinity and violence that felt la

    Eh. It was particularly interesting to read this immediately following reading Janet Mock’s newest memoir, which I devoured in less than 24 hours. This one I had to take breaks from and come back to because, frankly, I got sick of him. I as a transmasculine person am desperate for stories with which I can identify, but oddly I identified more with her story and her analysis than with his, a story about a man training to box and grappling with questions about masculinity and violence that felt lacking in depth and hinged on a gender binary he never really questioned. I appreciated his awareness and mention of people’s work about the intersections of race, class, and gender and the ways that whiteness has always been used to shore up masculinity, and vice versa, but I think even here he misses important points about power and the systems that determine normative bodies, as evidenced by his seeming confusion that class was also in the above intersection—because rich white cis het men want to preserve their power. But everyone knows this, right? McBee presents it as if it is news, and with a much less thorough understanding than Mock’s. Eh.

  • Julia

    Listened to this as an audiobook read by the author. Beautifully written and very poetic story of the author’s journey training to take part in a charity boxing match in Madison Square Gardens as a trans man. Many thoughts about what it means to be a man and what’s wrong with a lot of images of masculinity. Would recommend to everyone.

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