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Manning Up: Transsexual Men on Finding Brotherhood, Family & Themselves is an anthology of personal narratives by trans men in North America, spanning an array of perspectives, ethnicities, classes and ages. This anthology provides a space for trans men to share their experience of childhood, coming out, transitioning, relationships, family and what masculinity means to them.
The book comprises four sections – Manning Up, Family Man, Men Like Me, and New Territory. Although many of the themes explored in the anthology are similar because of the nature of the subject, each author puts their own mark on it. There are some stand-out pieces such as “Sculptor” in the Family Man section by Willy Wilkinson, in which he compares the transitioning process to that of whittling away at parts of himself, and sculpting his masculinity not only by his own hand but feeling the influence of his father and grandfather before him. “Sculptor” is a highly evocative piece, poetically crafted to become not just a coming out story or a transition story, but a piece of art.
Where time would usually be a large part of becoming a man, for the trans man in Manning Up, time is a strange concept, sometimes the making of the man, sometimes his obstacle. Within a matter of months the physical changes can begin, but it may have taken thirty, forty, fifty years to get to that visual actualization of their masculinity, or even the realization that it’s possible. Manning Up achieves its purpose – Jamison Green writes in the introduction that the words of his own experience and those of his brothers: “[…] reach out through this book to find an audience of equal explorers who, whether or not they themselves are transitioners or trans people of any variation, are able to appreciate the profound and intrepid quests these men are undertaking.”
This anthology is not just for trans men, but will resonate for many in the LGBT community as our coming out, growing up, and self-exploration changes continually as the world around us changes. This is an attractive collection that would be a valuable addition to writers, students and teachers. Manning Up can be dipped in and out of over time, not requiring the reader to consume the entire text in one sitting, and the narratives work well as stand-alone pieces.
I look forward to the next set of anthologies that books like Manning Up are opening space for–tales not just of coming out and testosterone but of post-transition and beyond. Manning Up is an important collection for the trans community and for literary culture and will likely inspire future generations of trans people to write, share, and create with pride.
Manning Up: Transsexual Men on Finding Brotherhood, Family & Themselves
Edited by Zander Keig and Mitch Kellaway
Paperback, 99781497492196, 202 pp.