Reading "Man Alive" by Thomas Page McBee
Man Alive is a beautiful, simply powerful book written by a man about his experiences moving through abuse, trauma, and his transition into his rightful body. It's the 3rd book I've read this year as part of my 2018 Reading Challenge and I'm so glad I chose it (and ordered it 2 separate times to finally find it!).While this book is certainly heartbreaking, especially in the beginning (hang in there! It gets easier), I absolutely love that McBee used his experience as a transgender man to opine on what it means to be - and to become - a man. He shares the struggle of reconciling the people who hurt him with the person he wants to be and how it is that men so often come to hurt others.
The world is vicious and beautiful and, to some extent, unexplainable. But that doesn’t stop us from wanting a story, all the same. - page 147
It’s a quick read, and starts out tough. But McBee is not a sappy nor self-indulgent writer and it quickly turns into something more hopeful than melancholy.
He details the effects on his marriage, personal relationships, and random encounters throughout his decision to take hormones and eventual changes to his body. He shares the comments and commentary he received most of his life, as well as the inner monologue as he tries to reconcile what 'they' see with who he is. And he does it all while weaving a gently unfolding story, with less thoughtfulness on the transition itself than on life in all its’ many aspects, if that’s fair of me to say.
“Abandon all hope,” I’d written on a Post-it note, and I watched it move gently beneath the heat duct. I read it in some book. The idea was that hope misses the point: it’s either going to happen or not. You can’t make a new reality, only fashion something real from the one that you’ve got. - page 111
Read McBee’s Man Alive if you’re looking for understanding, or even if you’re looking for some of the basic answers to “how” or “what” or “why” that you may be afraid to ask. I think you’ll find the answers in these pages.