An intimate portrait of a new generation of transmasculine individuals as they undergo gender transitions. Award-winning sociologist Arlene Stein takes us into the lives of four strangers who find themselves together in a sun-drenched surgeon’s office, having traveled to Florida from across the United States in order to masculinize their chests.
Though the book is by no means a memoir, it does chart the development of Stein’s thinking alongside that of her subjects, and her willingness to explore her own limitations makes it a livelier and more moving study than it might otherwise have been.... [Stein] insists on questioning anything in the discourse on gender and transition that smacks of essentialism—yet she frequently realizes (and has the grace to say) that much of the rigid thinking she encounters is her own.
Stein tracks the rapid evolution of gender identity in this provocative group portrait of trans men ... Stein posits that trans identity as it exists right now in younger people is less an act of survival and more an act of self-reinvention... Her book succeeds in documenting what it means to be trans today.
It feels as if Stein has written this book imagining it might fall into the hands of those who need such a primer — much as she once did — and she wants to give them the fortification she yearned for. She depicts her subjects with warmth and respect, and strains to include as much as she can about the social, emotional, medical and psychological dimensions of transitioning. The result is frantically overstuffed but earnest, diligent and defiantly optimistic ... Stein repeatedly allows herself to be impolitic and wincingly frank, almost using herself as a foil for the limitations of second-wave feminism.