Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man by Thomas Page McBee - review by Stephen Amidon

Stephen Amidon

Coming Out Fighting

Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man


Canongate 204pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

On the opening page of Amateur, Thomas Page McBee’s autobiographical exploration of manhood, the reader is thrown directly into the middle of a boxing match in which the author is a combatant. It’s McBee’s first time fighting in an arena. And that arena is no less than Madison Square Garden, the Mecca of American prizefighting.

Although he loses, McBee embraces his opponent, unexpectedly voicing the love he feels for him. From that moment on, it’s clear that this is no ordinary sports memoir. Rather, the next two hundred pages become the story of McBee’s fight as a transgender man, both in the ring and out of it. The boxing match, the gallant strife, is only a small part of his struggle.

McBee is an American journalist, a former ‘masculinity expert’ for VICE and a columnist for the magazine Pacific Standard. Having transitioned to male when he was thirty, McBee has dedicated his life to understanding and challenging standards of masculinity. As part of that, he became the first ever trans man

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