FTM: Female-to-Male Transsexuals in Society

FTM: Female-to-Male Transsexuals in Society

FTM: Female-to-Male Transsexuals in Society

FTM: Female-to-Male Transsexuals in Society

Synopsis

In this ground-breaking study, Aaron Devor provides a compassionate, intimate, and incisive look at the life experiences of forty-five trans men. Emerging into 21st-century political and social conversations, questions persist. Who are they? How do they come to know themselves as men? What do they do about it? How do their families respond? Who are their lovers? What does it mean for everyone else? To answer these and other questions, Devor spent years compiling in-depth interviews and researching the lives of transsexual and transgender people. Here, he traces the everyday and significant events that coalesce into trans identities, culminating in gender and sex transformations. Using trans men's own words as illustrations, Devor looks at how childhood, adolescence, and adult experiences with family members, peers, and lovers work to shape and clarify their images of themselves as men. With a new introduction, Devor positions the volume in twenty-first century debates of identity politics and community-building and provides a window into his own self-exploration as a result of his research.

Excerpt

AFTER TWENTY YEARS, and a dramatic—though still far from complete—shift in public attitudes toward transsexual people, one might imagine that more would be known about those of us who transition from female to male, or somewhere in-between. One might also be quite surprised to learn that there is still a mysterious fog obscuring transsexual or transgender men from public view. Is it “passing privilege?” That is, the fact that many trans men are simply seen as men, possibly because testosterone is quite effective in masculinizing various physical features so that most people simply don’t notice us? Don’t forget that the appearance standards for men in North America are much less demanding than those for women, so we don’t have much of a challenge in that department (which can be a great relief!).

We have our insecurities, some of which play out in the kinds of relationships we choose. Sometimes trans men attach ourselves to abusive partners, or partners who are not “good for us” in various ways. Some of us struggle with substance abuse, persistently using something to obliterate the frustration of being unable to fully live the life we’re looking for, perhaps because of economic deprivation, or because of bad reactions to testosterone, or failed surgery. And others live “perfect” lives; with wonderful, supportive, and loving partners with whom we are truly equal, with good jobs and retirement benefits, and the ability to own property; with good relationships with our children, who are intelligent, kind, ethical, and responsible. And others are unable to find steady work, struggling from day to day and terrified of becoming homeless. How does this happen? Can we blame all our problems on transsexualism? I don’t think so. These kinds of things happen to anyone. It’s the luck of the draw. But because no one’s gotten the message yet that trans men are living and dying among us, we have to remind the reader that we exist, that we have a few needs that are unique, but that for the most part, we are pretty much like other people, like other ordinary men, or like androgynous men (or even women), or like the boys we wished we could have been when we . . .

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