Not doctors. Not hormones. Not the government. Not you.

I changed my gender markers and my name, legally, nine years ago, though that is not when my transition “began.”

I received my first shot of testosterone 10 years ago this June, though that is not when my transition “began.”

I named myself Thomas, a family name which also means twin, when I came out 11 years ago, though that is not when my transition “began.”

I had surgery to reconstruct my chest 12 years ago, before I had language for my body, though that is not when my transition “began.”

A tried-and-true method to liberate yourself and others.

Nearly a decade ago, back when I first began my reporting on what was then-called the “global masculinity crisis,” I wrote a story for The Atlantic that ran under the optimistic headline, “The End of Violent, Simplistic, Macho Masculinity.” In it, I detailed the beginnings of the healthy masculinity movement, which sought to redefine masculinity, according to Pat McGann of the grassroots advocacy organization Men Can Stop Rape, with words like “nurturing, kind, positive, good, caring, courage, confident, inclusive, courageous, honest, accountability, and respect.” Through my research, I encountered a vibrant network of academics and grassroots organizations like MCSR who’d…

Express Yourself

Shame is probably the biggest obstacle for writers. Here’s how to confront it.

Quirky photo symbolizing writer’s block. Person sitting at typewriter with a bunch of crumpled paper.
Photo: Drew Coffman/Flickr

I’ve had a lot of lives as a writer. I started out as a poet. At 26, I was in grad school for fiction. By 29, I freelanced personal essays and worked as an editor at an alt-weekly, writing art criticism. At 31, I wrote my first book, a memoir. By 33, I was writing widely on gender and culture. At 34, I wrote my second book, a reported memoir. By 37, I’d tried my hand at my first episode of television. And now, at 40, I’m working on my first feature film script.

Some people might accuse me of…

The Invention of Gender

The story of trans people is as old as time — so why have we been written out of history books?

When TIME magazine put Laverne Cox on their cover in 2014, (somewhat infamously) declaring that year “the transgender tipping point,” the notion that visibility itself leads to social change sparked a debate that’s, frankly, never stopped.

And for good reason: According to the HRC, 2020 was the deadliest year on record for violent deaths of trans people, with Black trans women disproportionately targeted. Meanwhile, anti-trans rhetoric has been increasingly normalized in “debates” in the US and the UK about the legal right of trans people to exist in public space and life, whether it’s a public bathroom or a playing…

The New Self-Help

Every day, I was rewarded for behavior that I was previously punished for

Book jacket for Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man by Thomas Page McBee

This story is part of The New Self-Help: 21 Books for a Better You in the 21st Century.

When I first began injecting testosterone, I clocked the changes primarily in aesthetic terms: the T-shirt that now fit me, the graceful curl of biceps, the glorious sprinkle of a beard. I loved being a man; I loved having a body.

Those first few years of testosterone injections coincided with a period of anxious headlines about men in economic turmoil. Post-recession, surges in suicides, drug addiction, and even beards were all blamed on a broader insecurity about the massive loss of jobs…

It turns out we don’t do our best work in hypercompetitive, ‘Game of Thrones’–style environments

Illustration: George(s)

Since the #MeToo movement ignited a national outcry about the rampant sexual harassment and abuse in industries from film and television to politics, workplaces have been much more attuned to the way “traditional” (some might say “toxic”) socialized masculinity can contribute to gender inequality, bias, and sexual misconduct.

But even progressive companies can struggle with “masculinity contest cultures,” according to a paper published in the Harvard Business Review last year. These cultures may include harassment and abuse, but the more “benign” elements will also sound familiar to many office workers:

... taking on and bragging about heavy workloads or long…

Outfielder Cameron Maybin’s ‘hugs for homers’ challenges traditional notions of masculinity, and experts say that’s a very good thing

NY Yankees teammates Gleyber Torres and Cameron Maybin hug as they celebrate a two run home run against the Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees teammates Gleyber Torres (#25) and Cameron Maybin (#38) hug as they celebrate a two run home run in the 6th inning of their game against the Toronto Blue Jays on September 14, 2019. Photo: Cole Burston/Getty

Cameron Maybin is hitting a solid .284 for the Yankees, but the outfielder’s most winning contribution to his team is the hugs he delivers in the dugout.

After each homerun, players walk through the dugout getting high fives, then get one last reward: a warm embrace from Maybin. Now fans are hugging in the stands, too, and even making T-shirts to commemorate this new baseball tradition.

“Hugging just makes people feel good,” Maybin told the New York Times. “Everybody needs a good hug sometimes. Even when you don’t think you want one.”

He’s right. And beyond building team spirit, hugs…

My feminist mother taught me to speak up. Now, as a trans man, I am trying to make space for women to be heard.

Illustration: The New York Times

A few months after I began injecting testosterone, I discovered that one of the startling new privileges of my male body was that I could silence an entire room just by opening my mouth.

Despite the fact that my voice pitched baritone low, when I spoke, people didn’t just listen, they leaned in. They perched their heads in their hands and tilted toward me for a better angle. It was as if whatever I said, however banal, was surely worth that strain of a neck, or the hurried quieting of all other thoughts.

For me, a 31-year-old trans man who…

When I was a 21-year-old intern at The Weekly Dig in Boston, I was tipped to a story about Boston University’s then-chancellor, John Silber. He was aggressively attempting to shut down the gay-straight alliance of the university’s affiliate high school.

I was a brand new journalist, so under the careful eye of my editors, I interviewed a dozen people, minding the ethics of asking for comment and interviewing sources on all sides of the issue. Yet even as I played by the rules of journalism, my identity as a queer person informed every aspect of the piece. …

Bruce Jenner isn’t gone. I should know.

Bruce Jenner. (Photo: ABC News)

By Thomas Page McBee

Editor’s Note: Bruce Jenner has come out “for all intents and purposes [as] a woman” but has not yet made known his preference for a new name or preferred pronoun. Pacific Standard makes it a point to follow GLAAD’s guidelines — on transgender and other issues — wherever we feel it is most appropriate.

Mom and I watched Bruce Jenner on Diane Sawyer together. We do this sort of thing, now that she’s dead. Back in September in the hospice, her breathing a rattle so slow my eyes startled…

Thomas Page McBee

Writer exploring the relationship between gender, culture, and history. Most recent book: Amateur (Scribner). Essays/reporting: NYT, The Atlantic, GQ, more.

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