Amateur by Thomas Page McBee


From an award-winning writer whose work bristles with “hard-won strength, insight, agility, and love” (Maggie Nelson), an exquisite and troubling narrative of masculinity, violence, and society.In this groundbreaking new book, the author, a trans man, trains to fight in a charity match at Madison Square Garden while struggling to untangle the vexed relationship between masculinity and violence. Through his experience boxing—learning to get ...

Details Amateur

Release DateAug 14th, 2018
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Lgbt, Glbt, Queer, Gender, Feminism

Reviews Amateur

  • Rebecca
    Thomas Page McBee was the first transgender man to box at Madison Square Garden. In his second memoir, which arose from a Quartz article entitled “Why Men Fight,” he recounts the training leading up to his charity match and ponders whether aggression is a natural male trait. McBee grew up in a small town outside Pittsburgh with a stepfather who sexually abused him from age four. In 2011 he started the testosterone injections that would begin ...
  • Caden
    I have asked myself questions about what masculinity is countless times; I think Thomas was the first to give me an answer I was satisfied with. As a trans guy interested in better understanding myself, I have read plenty of books that spoke about transitioning and finding one's place in a newly-perceived identity but within the same flesh and blood. This book provided an refreshingly honest look into one man's life and how he navigates through t...
  • Rebecca
    Maggie Nelson said that this book was like "sitting with someone uncurling his hands, than holding them out to you, open, so that you can behold all the hard-won strength, insight, agility and love to be found there" and I think that's true. This is a vital trans narrative about becoming and fighting and masculinity. There's bloodiness and tenacity in it, but also gentleness.
  • JuanitoLibritos
    Qué importante es que la cultura popular escuche voces minoritarias y, hasta muy recientemente, silenciadas. La transexualidad masculina sigue siendo un tema del que se habla poco en todos los ambientes, por eso es trascendental que le demos voz a las personas que viven esta realidad para que los demás podamos comprenderla con mayor profundidad y verdad. El testimonio en primera persona de este periodista trans es un ejercicio literario que mez...
  • Austen
    I'm so thankful for the way McBee put into words so much of what I've often felt about masculinity. I don't know if I've ever felt as seen as I did reading this book. This is an important read, not just for other trans men, but for people of all genders who are trying to figure out what to do with the social power they've been given.
  • Laura
    From BBC radio 4 - Book of the week:Thomas Page McBee, a trans man, trains to fight in a charity match at New York's Madison Square Garden, while struggling to untangle the vexed relationship between masculinity and violence.Through his experience of boxing - learning to get hit and to hit back, wrestling with the camaraderie of the gym, confronting the betrayals and strengths of his own body - McBee examines male violence, the pervasiveness of g...
  • Libby
    Wow. This might be my new favorite book. What a powerful read. To think about what it's like to be a man when you know first-hand how the world feels for women... incredible. Truly incredible.
  • Eli
    Eh. It was particularly interesting to read this immediately following reading Janet Mock’s newest memoir, which I devoured in less than 24 hours. This one I had to take breaks from and come back to because, frankly, I got sick of him. I as a transmasculine person am desperate for stories with which I can identify, but oddly I identified more with her story and her analysis than with his, a story about a man training to box and grappling with q...
  • Raf
    This book blew me away. I read pretty much everything I can find on masculinity and this was a one of a kind read. As a trans man McBee navigates a great deal of his external gender socialization with a deep attentiveness, tenderness, and patience. Watching the way he grabs a 'piece' of masculinity, rolls it around, looks at it, and considers if he wants it to be absorbed into his identity is powerful. It gives me hope for the challenge of becomi...
  • Ryan
    “I thought about being a white man in America. I thought about my pay raises, the assumptions of competency, the sudden freedom to walk alone at night, the way my body has transitioned from threatened to threat. I thought about the advantages thrown at me for an aesthetic that looked like a birthright. I thought about passing, and how it erased a part of me, and how hormones responded to context, and how race and masculinity were inventions tha...
  • Herbie
    I tore through this like a man trying to run a 6 minute mile. I don’t know. In the end I came to find some lovely moments here, but for much it, I was a bit detached and disappointed. In the opening, I was disappointed in what felt like rushed editing and a lot of confused chronology. Perhaps this is unfair, but I wonder if the book shows its age too much as something that was written before the 2016 election. The treatment of the “crisis of ...
  • Jos
    I read this book because I wanted an answer to a question that I've been asking myself for a very long time: what it means to be a man. Of course, actually answering that question is probably impossible, but I did hope to get an interesting perspective on it by reading this. Amateur follows the author as he is training for a boxing match. He tells about his relationships with the men and women he meets on his journey and in his past. Meanwhile, h...
  • Katie
    Thomas Page McBee is a transgender man who is struggling with how to deal with masculinity. After transitioning, he has numerous instances of being met with physical aggression by strangers. This book recounts his time training for a boxing match at Madison Square Gardens as he processes what masculinity is to him and the role aggression plays in that. The most interesting parts of this book to me were McBee's descriptions of what is was like to ...
  • Marcus Perry
    What is masculinity? Is it static or is it fluid? Does it have to be violent or can it find strength in being tender? Thomas Page McBee explores masculinity, both its negatives and possible positives, in his book "Amateur: A True Story About What Makes A Man" as he prepares for a charity boxing match at Madison Square Garden. I found the book to be beautifully self-reflective and thought provoking with quotes from experts in the field of gender s...
  • K
    This is worth the read, but its weaknesses are hard to overlook. It seems to be part of some sort of publishing boom in trans memoirs, and while I'm grateful that there are more books to fill the demand, this one fell short for me. I guess it's because I've heard many parallel insights about the tragedy of contemporary toxic masculinity from other GNC, transmasculine, and transmen or even other books (Stone Butch Blues comes to mind). From that p...
  • Waffle
    I wasn’t going to read this, because I don’t like boxing. When I picked it up, though, I found an insightful analysis of masculinity, and a few reasons to maybe change my mind about boxing (not really convinced yet). It’s a topic at the top of my mind lately, and this is a quick read with good additions to things that have already started me thinking about how restrictive it is to try to be a man. Recommended further exploration: Scene on R...
  • Paul
    Round OneIn his training for the fight in a charity match at Madison Square Garden, McBee joined the Church Boxing Gym. It is in downtown Manhattan and in underground down several flights of stairs. There are several rings in the room and it is covered with posters of fighters long forgotten. It is a place that oozes testosterone, echoes to the sound of people working out and sparring and the aroma of stale sweat permeates the place.Round TwoMang...
  • Adrian Brown
    Thomas Page McBee writes beautifully about the struggle of masculinity, having had the unique opportunity to live/see it from both sides. There's a lot about fighting in this book, and while I love to strap on some gloves and punch it out as much as the next girl, I finished the book still wanting a deeper dive into masculinity outside of fighting...and I really like hitting things! My queer ladies book club enjoyed the book and the topic felt al...
  • María Bastarós
    Mi nota real sería más un 3,5. Un libro único por la experiencia personal que saca a la palestra, que huele mucho más a experimento sincero que a autoficción, cosa que en este caso me parece imprescindible para su valía. Aunque al final se ha ido deslizando hacia una consideración épica de la camaradería masculina que no me ha acabado de interesar y sobre la que se podría hablar largo y tendido, recomiendo su lectura 100%. Creo que es u...
  • Katie
    A unique and important perspective on gender and the culture of masculinity; truly, this was a fascinating read. The ideas and story are well worth reading. I had some trouble reconciling the content with the way it was presented, though, and maybe that's just a personal thing. Since this is about the author's experience learning to box, there are a lot of boxing scenes, which are often accompanied by McBee's various ruminations. These scenes fel...
  • Ryan Mishap
    An excellent personal and societal examination of varying masculine identities and stereotypes and the effects on individuals, families, and culture.As a society, we're still coming to grips with the rigid binary of gender being challenged as immutable. This is a book that goes a long way to question and explain gender; being a man, woman, or trans; and locating in our bodies who we are.Highly recommended.
  • Emily Fassler
    This was a Family Book Club read, suggested by my youngest sibling. I'm not sure I ever would have picked it up on my own, but wow. Wow wow wow. This is a wondrous, vulnerable, thought-provoking exploration of gender, masculinity, violence, loss, and self-actualization. Highly highly recommended.
  • David
    This is a great book about masculinity, toxic and otherwise, but it's also a bittersweet sports story. 5/5
  • Lindsey
    A lot of rich thinking about violence, tenderness, & who we let ourselves be.
  • Devon
    I’ve never wanted to rate a book 5 stars so badly. This is essential reading. Heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. Beautiful. Tender. Vulnerable. Important.
  • Alan
    Moved me very much like “Black Like Me” did years ago. There is so much wisdom along with human strength, frailty and hope for growth.
  • Courtney Gillette
    If I’m honest, I have little interest in boxing (and perhaps less so in masculinity as a concept), but Thomas Page McBee is such a talent, I’d follow him anywhere. This is a generous and tender story, beautifully rendered. I’m grateful this book is in the world.
  • Kevin
    Over Christmas, my daughter gave me a couple of books as prezzies. One of them was “Amateur“, written by Thomas Page McBee. The premise of the book is that the author has gone from being a woman to a man and is seeking to become the first transgender person to box in Madison Square Garden in New Your City. He is fighting in a charity event against a non-professional fighter (like himself), who is presumably non-trans – at least there is no ...