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Becoming a Man: The Story of a Transition

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  436 ratings  ·  101 reviews
“A memoir that is jolting, honest, passionate, and beautifully written” (Claudia Rankine), Becoming a Man explores one man’s gender transition amid a pivotal political moment in America.

Becoming a Man is the striking memoir of P. Carl’s journey to become the man he always knew himself to be. For fifty years, he lived as a girl and a queer woman, building a career, a life,
Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published January 28th 2020 by Simon & Schuster
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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Jul 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
a swift exploration of transitioning at midlife into white manhood, during the time of #MeToo and trump. the project’s interesting and the writing’s best when p. carl grounds his reflections on race, queerness, and transness in his lived experiences. there’s not much structure to the narrative; he drifts from one topic to the next in a way that can be dreamy. there are several points when he avoids critically engaging with toxic masculinity, across his memories and commentary, and this made the ...more
When Carl was four years old, his life split. He knew himself to be a boy, but everyone else perceived him as a girl, and, eventually, as a butch lesbian. When he turned 50, he decided to become the man he knows he is.

And it’s heartbreaking. He’s overjoyed to finally be seen as his true self. But his friends and his wife are not so thrilled. Having spent years fighting the system together as lesbian feminists, they feel betrayed and resentful. But Carl perseveres, writing out the crazy swinging
Dawn Michelle
I knew about a 1/3 of the way into this book, that I was going to have a tough time reviewing it. Not because it is awful, because it is far from that. This is one of the best, and most comprehensive books I have read about a person in transition. And not even because it goes into the medical parts of it [though that is discussed some], but because it goes to the heart and soul of what it is like to be one gender [and know for years that it is the wrong one] and then one day wake up, decide that ...more
Laura Sackton
This book utterly floored me. Carl transitioned at 51, after a lifetime of knowing himself as a man but not living as one. The agility, humility, and self-analysis in this book is just brilliant. It's a book about wresting with masculinity, in all its ugly and benign forms. Carl interrogates how it felt to live as a woman, and all the complexities of how that life affected his experience of manhood. There is so much nuance and uncertainty and contradiction here—he’s willing to tell a lot of mess ...more
Feb 05, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt
"Becoming a Man" in 2020 America is anything but straight-forward. What does transitioning mean for a man, previously in a lesbian relationship of 20 years, who finally feels good in his body but also recognizes the complications that this embrace of masculinity entails?

In "Becoming a Man: The Story of a Transition," P. Carl outlines his transition and reflects on his experiences of gender dysphoria growing up, his fraught relationship with his parents, and what this all means for his relationsh
I plan to come back and give a thorough review at some point, but I can't just leave 5 stars and walk away like I do with other books.

This book is not long, but it took me over three weeks to read. That's not normal for me. I usually read a book in less than a week. It was hard to read, though. Not because it was bad! It was the opposite! It was so good! But it was so painfully true and, honestly, painfully relatable. I need to process this book and come back to review. If you read this before I
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I rarely read nonfiction. This book was FANTASTIC. Honest and raw, amazing. I'm so thankful for this author, that he's still alive, and that he shared this book with us. A must read for anyone thinking/wanting to know more about gender, sexuality, what it means to be a woman, to be a man. ...more
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Please know that many things are true about my history that can never add up" (13).

"I will always feel the rage of being a woman who was told on too many occasions that I was aggressive and ambitious and angry. I feel those feelings as her, even though she's me and not me. An inner self can learn to walk parallel with a constructed self and know and not know it simultaneously" (13).

"What parts of bodies are allowed to change without causing disruption? What are the qualities of sex and gender t
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to Emily who sent me this book!!

As a continuation of the 2019 goal, in 2020 I am trying to read more trans authors, especially trans masculine nonfiction. P. Carl has an engaging story that I at times related to, and most of the time did not (which is not a bad thing, obviously) . I enjoyed the writing, I thought it was very strong, and contained the multitudes of the human experience. I particularly liked the letter to his wife and the chapter about the role of daughters. My only comp
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-copies
P. Carl's becoming a man is "a book about changing a name, a life, and a gender - about crossing a seemingly indistinguishable line and all the implications of that crossing"
Becoming A Man - The Story Of Transition is powerful. P. Carl's memoir is truly eye opening on so many levels and I learned so much. Things I thought I knew, things I hadn't thought of. I have been educated by the words on these pages. I know I've said it before but I'll say it again. I am forever amazed by the ability to
Jun 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
Ooof I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. In some ways it’s a raw and painfully truthful account of someone finally feeling their body as theirs and how they got to that point. But I can’t ignore throughout the book that Carl’s internal misogyny isn’t challenged, rather it becomes external misogyny and he ends up celebrating that. He’s says he hopes white toxic masculinity is nearing its end whilst simultaneously sharing anecdotes where he happily contributed to white toxic masculinit ...more
Amanda Van Parys
Read this in one day. The writing is so clear and engaging. Quite good.
kayla goggin
Mar 12, 2020 rated it liked it
I guess I just don’t think the things P. Carl has to say about masculinity are as interesting as P. Carl thinks they are.
May 30, 2020 added it
Shelves: audiobook, lgbtqiap
I really enjoyed this memoir, it's very well written and almost painfully honest. It was very fascinating to find how this man picked up toxic masculinity from a young age and kind of revels in it, even though he knows it's not the healthiest or best way to think. It's just that it means something totally different to him as a trans man.
What I didn't understand was how fine he was with all the women in his life basically deciding he was now the enemy. Not only is that generally not how women sho
A fascinating memoir by a 50+-year old trans man who has a PhD in gender and cultural studies. The book is an excellent example of theory and lived experience coming together.
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book shouldn't have been a memoir. In my opinion P. Carl is the best transmasculine author I have ever read and this book emerged at a time his perspective was most needed. Carl begs the question what does it mean to be a white trans man in a time when white men are destroying the country. P. Carl's applications of queer theory to his own life and deconstruction of how we experience and perform masculinity is in my opinion ground-breaking.
But this book shouldn't have been a memoir. The wea
Feb 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
Interesting story of Carl, a transman, who transitions in his 50s. Appreciated the honesty and unvarnished look at the effect his transition had on his wife, mental state and family. It seemed to me though that he seemed to have a 1960s or a 10 year old boys idea of what a man or a "man's man' as he sometimes describes himself should be: liking sports, denigrating women, drinking beer. The book is quite steeped in gender theory, but rather than perceiving gender as performative, he tends to reif ...more
Logan Hughes
May 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: trans
P. Carl is an eloquent and thoughtful writer and he writes with immediacy and intensity about transitioning at midlife (these essay were apparently written within the first 2 years of starting to transition at age 50). While some of his experiences were alien to me, such as comfort and enjoyment in engaging with straight cis white male culture, others were all to familiar, such as the combination of joy and guilt at transitioning when you know it alienates those you love. Carl weaves in thoughts ...more
May 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book - eye opening descriptions of living with body dysmorphia so extreme that no feelings are transmitted through the ‘wrong’ body, and the intense joy and volume of feeling when the body finally matched the self image, and began transmitting physical and emotional feelings. The best description yet to help a cis woman (she/her) like myself understand those feelings, and so beautifully describing the feelings I had to pull over, stop driving and weep for the joy of it.
Lisa Hedin
Apr 29, 2020 rated it liked it
I wanted to be moved by this book, but there was too much navel gazing. Author comes across as overly intellectual and story stays out of reach.
Teddy Goetz
Nov 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is beautifully written and raw. As a fellow trans man, I appreciated the desperation of choosing to survive and to strive for authenticity. As a fellow trans man, I also cringed at the author’s sheepish depictions of his ongoing journey to embrace masculinity while eschewing toxicity (and often failure to adequately unwind the two). These honest stories highlighted why the book is not called his quest “becoming a GOOD man”, but rather just “becoming a man”. That leaves the adjective fo ...more
Talisa Rafferty
Jul 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I wouldn't think as a Black woman that I would be able to relate to and learn from a trans man, but I stand corrected. I read this book to educate myself more on the trans world in an attempt to become more tolerant and understanding. A lot of this book was eye opening. I never thought of the reconciliation one must do inside their heads to connect the person that they were with the person that they are. In addition the work to balance the person that they are seen as must be so taxi
Evan Potts
Jan 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
A truly deep look into someone’s transition. I wish all the best to Carl and those he chose to include in his book. I really appreciated the blend of personal experiences with academic knowledge and critiques of gender/sexuality/society. I did get lost at times, it’s clear Carl is an intellectual and the writing reflects that. Overall a great read.
Victoria Weston
Jan 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
An important read, especially in 2021. I don't pretend to fully understand every concept Carl describes, and I certainly don't feel qualified to rate such a vulnerable memoir, but I would say if you are curious in hearing trans stories, this would be a great one to start with. I learned a great deal, and I am appreciative to him for writing this and sharing such tender feelings with all of us. ...more
Jan 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was an eye opening account of not only Carl’s transition, but of life in the US as both a woman and a white man. Carl’s writing helped to explain the struggles women feel in today’s society and also the inner struggles he feels now as a man, knowing how women are treated. I was expecting this book to help educate me on the experiences of a trans male but it opened my eyes to so much more: including taking care of aging parents, relationship dynamics, sexual assault and white male privilege.
May 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dont-own
Heartbreaking memoir about a trans man and his journey. His honesty and candor is refreshing and insightful. Beautifully written. Would recommend to anyone curious about trans people and what they go through. Carl is very upfront about his thoughts and feelings.
Erika Sanders
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An exceptional memoir - deeply felt, beautifully written, and able to draw connections between the author's experience, our national context, and what it means to be human. ...more
Amy Boelter
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A well written story of a man's transition and the experience from his point of view. Carl discusses the conflict between who he's becoming and who he was and the loss of Polly in such a authentic way. Consistently pointing out the uniqueness of each person who chooses to transition, and how important it is we recognize the individual and their needs. I can't say enough good things about this book, and the eye opening perspective it offers. ...more
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A modern essential read for trans men transitioning later in life.

It is difficult to imagine transitioning at the age of 50, but Carl gives voice to that experience, and it is an amazing, fascinating, sometimes a little painful thing to read.

The quality of the writing is great, although at times meandering. People with a gender or queer studies background may have a slight advantage, but I don't have that and still enjoyed this very much.

I really appreciated that he talked about the anger he fel
Abena Oworae
Feb 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
P. Carl takes readers on an intimate journey into the inner world of his transition. It’s the story of a man who begins his transition in his fifties and contends with the way coming out affects his well established relationships with family, friends, colleagues, his wife, and himself.

Carl gives us his thoughts on binary trans identity and challenges the perceived limits and misconceptions of this experience. What does it mean to embrace white manhood openly? How did being perceived as a woman f
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