UNBOUND by Arlene Stein
Kirkus Star


Transgender Men and the Remaking of Identity
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A new sociological study on transgender individuals and their experience transitioning.

In her latest, gender theorist Stein (Sociology/Rutgers Univ.; Reluctant Witnesses: Survivors, Their Children, and the Rise of Holocaust Consciousness, 2014, etc.) follows the lives of four individuals who have gone through the process of transitioning from female to male. The author states that her book is a “group portrait of those who choose to remake their bodies and lives using the tools they have at their disposal.” Stein spent considerable time with her subjects, Ben, Parker, Lucas, and Nadia, each one existing at different levels of the transgender spectrum. Ben, who grew up in a highly supportive environment, never identified as a woman; he had large breasts and struggled on a daily basis with his body image. As a result, he started hormonal treatments and eventually underwent top surgery to fully transition from female to male. Parker is a prototypical Californian, though he is from Virginia. Muscular and blond, he referred to himself as a “gurl” and dressed as a tomboy. He was outspoken and refused to wear the clothes his parents wanted him to wear as a girl. Lucas’ identity fits near the intersection of male and female—i.e., he identifies neither as a man nor a woman but rather “somewhere masculine of center.” Finally, Nadia wishes to modify her body but still wants to be recognized as a woman. Stein takes readers on each one of these individual’s incredible journeys, shedding a rigorous, respectful, and highly studied light on the experience of transgender individuals today. For example, “transgender men,” she writes, “are not simply retrieving the male that resides within; they’re also creating themselves.” This significant book provides medical, sociological, and psychological information that can only serve to educate those lacking understanding and awareness of an entire community of individuals who deserve representation.

A stellar exploration of the complexities and limitations of gender.

Pub Date: June 5th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5247-4745-9
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2018


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