Man Alive

Man Alive
A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man





"Panel Discussion on Sexuality and Gender"
Sep 20, 2015

Mona Eltahawy, author of Headscarves and Hymens; Melissa Gira Grant, author of Playing the Whore; and Thomas Page McBee, author of Man Alive, talked about the issues of sexuality and gender. The panel was moderated by Jennifer Baumgardner.

"Revolution and Repression: Sexuality, Gender, and Politics" took place in the Brooklyn Law School Moot Courtroom at the 10th annual Brooklyn Book Festival in Brooklyn, New York. The festival took place on September 20, 2015, at the Brooklyn Borough Hall and Plaza. 

- C-SPAN

"Man Alive Nominated for 2015 Kirkus Prize"
Sep 11, 2015

Man Alive, which received a Kirkus Star in 2014 and was named a Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, is longlisted for the Kirkus Prize––a prize of $50,000 bestowed annually to authors of fiction, nonfiction and young readers' literature. It was created to celebrate the 81 years of discerning, thoughtful criticism Kirkus Reviews has contributed to both the publishing industry and readers at large. Books that earned the Kirkus Star with publication dates between November 1, 2014, and October 31, 2015. Winners will be selected on October 15, 2015, by an esteemed panel composed of nationally respected writers and highly regarded booksellers, librarians and Kirkus critics.

- Kirkus Reviews

"Pride Month Reading List"
Jun 25, 2015

Man Alive included in the National Book Foundation's 2015 Pride Month reading list for nonfiction.

- NationalBook.org

"What Makes a Man"
Jun 23, 2015

Thomas Page McBee's Man Alive profiled along with the work of Maggie Nelson, Harry Dodge, Paul (Beatriz) Preciado, and George Miller in the context of gender "in-betweenness" and the passage of the trans subject.

"Throughout his 2014 memoir, Man Alive, McBee describes his gender identity as 'nuanced,' but also refers to himself as 'two of me.' As a child abused by a father figure, he learns to become a stranger to his body; reacquainted, at age 29, he 'knows that we are hormones: stress and sex.' He decides to start taking testosterone. Appearing on Book Circle’s podcast to discuss Man Alive, McBee says that during his transition he connected to 'stories of people having big life changes…for example, a lot of pregnant women in my life.' Like them, he didn’t know what he would see on the other side of the change; like them, he didn’t quite know, day to day, how his body would react to what he was doing."

- Sara Black McCulloch, ADULT

"27th Annual Lambda Literary Award Winners Announced"
Jun 2, 2015

Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man by Thomas Page McBee wins the 2015 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Nonfiction!

- Lambda Literary

"How Being Mugged at Gunpoint Changed This Trans Man's Life"
Feb 5, 2015

News report of HuffPost Live panel Thomas Page McBee took part in February 2015.

- Huffington Post Gay Voices

"The Book Report: Tomas Moniz"

Tomas Moniz, editor at Rad Dad Magazine, delivers his book report on Thomas Page McBee's Man Alive.

- Tomas Moniz, The Lithography Project

"Transgender Manhood in 'Man Alive'"
Feb 3, 2015

In his new book Man Alive, transgender writer Thomas Page McBee explores society's concepts of masculinity and manhood. He joins HuffPost Live to talk about his journey, along with a panel to discuss transgender masculinity. Hosted by Ricky Camilleri.

- HuffPost Live

"We Contain Multitudes"
Feb 2, 2015

Thomas Page McBee is interviewed by Andrew Rose for Guernica. "The trans author and journalist on masculinity and male privilege, writing about the body, and crafting new narratives about gender identities."

- Guernica

Publishers Weekly

"[Thomas Page] McBee's answer to the initial question of 'what makes a man?' is more generous, more inspiring, and more creative than the usual gender binaries allow. Full of bravery and clear, far-sighted compassion and devoid of sentiment, victimization, and cliché, McBee's meditations bring him a hard-won sense of self—one that is bound to inspire any reader who has struggled with internal dissonance."


Kirkus Reviews

"[A] unique, powerful rite-of-passage memoir. Plenty of writers have written about the experience of making the transition from one gender to another, but most haven't also dealt with child molestation, paternity issues and a mugging by a man who would soon commit murder—not to mention a partner who has mixed feelings about the author's becoming a man. Resisting the inclination to sensationalize (or sentimentalize), McBee interweaves the various strands of the narrative, exercising plenty of restraint … The author writes in matter-of-fact detail about the tension and love shared with a fiancee and about self-discovery pilgrimages to explore bloodlines and paternity. 'The world is vicious and beautiful and, to some extent, unexplainable,' writes the author. 'But that doesn't stop us from wanting a story.' This is quite a story, masterfully rendered."


BuzzFeed

"McBee's beautifully written story is engrossing and brave, and rings with triumph."––Isaac Fitzgerald


Broken Pencil

"McBee has opened himself and shown his fear to the world, and turned it inward, a knife point to remind him where he's come form, what he’s endured. Empowerment feels like a hollow word to describe such a naked and moving experience, but Man Alive nonetheless provides a revitalizing, strengthening affirmation of self-knowledge, of understanding, and yes––forgiveness"––Alison Lang


Public Books

"McBee's work is a case of remarkable storytelling in the wake of violence … While Man Alive focuses heavily on McBee’s journey as he transitions from female to male, from Page to Thomas, at its core is a change even bigger, deeper, and more extraordinary than that: the book itself becomes a reflection on the self within the body and what it means to be human."––Kristi Dilallo


"2015 Over the Rainbow List: 78 LGBT Books for Adult Readers"
Feb 1, 2015

Man Alive by Thomas Page McBee named a top ten favorite on the 2015 Over the Rainbow List from the ALA's GLBTRT, who's mission is to create a bibliography of books that exhibit commendable literary quality and significant authentic GLBT content and are recommended for adults over age 18.

- Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) of the American Library Association (ALA)

"Building the Man I Am"
Jan 30, 2015

An original essay by Thomas Page McBee appears on BuzzFeed Books.

- BuzzFeed Books

"The Top Ten Nonfiction Books of 2014"
Jan 2, 2015

Emerson College's entertainment blog selects Man Alive as a top ten nonfiction book of 2014. "In today’s world of changing opinions on gender binaries, the question of what makes a man a man is increasingly complex. But on the verge of his female-to-male transition, McBee decides to answer this question for himself. For comparison he uses the two men who had the most influence on his life: an abusive father and a suddenly compassionate mugger."

- Julia Domenicucci, Entertainment Monthly: Entertainment News from Emerson College

Los Angeles Review of Books

"Man Alive stands as a vitally important book. McBee's story harnesses the power of self-inquiry, of generosity, of a transformation powerful enough to address even the fallout from child abuse."––Greg Glazner


"The 19 Best Nonfiction Books of 2014"
Dec 24, 2014

"These are the essay collections, memoirs, and nonfiction reads that we absolutely loved in 2014. *Ranked in no particular order*"
"In Man Alive, Thomas Page McBee asks himself what it means to be a man and examines his relationship to two important men in his life— his abusive father and a mugger — as he transitions from female to male. McBee's beautifully written story is engrossing and brave, and rings with triumph."

- Isaac Fitzgerald, BuzzFeed

"Bookends: The Year's Best Reads"
Dec 23, 2014

Man Alive by Thomas Page McBee selected as a 'Best Read' of 2014.
"Man Alive came out of Thomas Page McBee's column for The Rumpus, a chronicle of his transition from female to male. His thoughtful memoir probes the assumptions of masculinity and identity."

- SF Weekly

Favorite Nonfiction of 2014
Dec 1, 2014

Largehearted Boy selects Man Alive as one of its Favorite Nonfiction of 2014:
"Bravely told with refreshing humility, Thomas Page McBee's Man Alive is one of the year's finest memoirs."

- Largehearted Boy

SF Weekly

"[McBee's] thoughtful memoir probes the assumptions of masculinity and identity."––Stephen Sparks


Best Nonfiction Books of 2014
Dec 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews includes Man Alive in its Best Nonfiction Books of 2014 list
"'The world is vicious and beautiful and, to some extent, unexplainable,' writes the author. 'But that doesn't stop us from wanting a story.' This is quite a story, masterfully rendered."

- Kirkus Reviews

"'Man Alive': Alum Thomas Page McBee’s Memoir Redefines Masculinity"
Dec 5, 2014

Thomas is profiled as an SF State's alumni, featuring the latest news on his critically acclaimed memoir.

- San Francisco State College of Liberal and Creative Arts

The Media

"Rather than telling an authoritative story of what it means to be a transgender man, Man Alive tells the story of what it is to be Thomas Page McBee: a writer, a feminist, a partner, his mother's son. It is crucial in its way of re-wiring what a trans memoir can and should look like. McBee has situated himself among other emerging voices like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock who are opening and expanding the conversation about what it means to be trans, steering the focus away from the physical and toward that of one’s whole person. As a result, Man Alive achieves so much; it is simultaneously personal, poignant, and powerful."––Freddie Francis


Memoirs Explore the Meaning of Manhood
Dec 3, 2014

Thomas Page McBee is profiled and interviewed for Emerson's Berkeley Beacon, where he is an alumnus.

- Erica Mixon, Berkeley Beacon

NPR Books

"Well aware that memory and identity rarely follow a linear path, Thomas Page McBee attempts to answer the question, 'What does it really mean to be a man?' Weaving past and present to do so, the book's journey connects violence, masculinity and forgiveness. McBee has an intelligent heart, and it beats in every sentence of this gorgeous book."––Saeed Jones


NPR's Book Concierge: Our Guide to 2014’s Great Reads
Dec 9, 2014

Man Alive selected to NPR Books' best books of 2014.
"Well aware that memory and identity rarely follow a linear path, Thomas Page McBee attempts to answer the question, 'What does it really mean to be a man?' Weaving past and present to do so, the book's journey connects violence, masculinity and forgiveness. McBee has an intelligent heart, and it beats in every sentence of this gorgeous book."

- Saeed Jones, NPR Books

New York Times Book Review

"McBee enlarges the study [of masculinity] from a series of vignettes into a full, poetic narrative … a physical transition is part of the work of reclaiming the lost body. But first he must understand how violence fits into the male equation, using as his case studies two men who set out to do one thing but did the opposite: The protector who abused him, and the killer who let him live … the act of writing could amount to a kind of revenge. But empathy, instead, is McBee's objective, the most important part of becoming real in one’s own eyes. 'Being human,' he concludes, 'means being at the mercy of others.' That’s a part of aspiration, too. We are born human; with hard work, we achieve humanity."––Henry Giardina


Boston Globe

"In this lyrical, affecting memoir, McBee ... [tries] to map his own journey to manhood ... The writing is strongest when McBee is most vulnerable—contemplating 'the warble between the shape in my mind and the one in the mirror.'"—Kate Tuttle


"Thomas Page McBee Reads Man Alive Along with Saeed Jones"
Nov 17, 2014

A review of Thomas Page McBee and Saeed Jones reading at WORD Bookstore in Brooklyn, with a Q&A that followed in which they describe how it feels to release their first book and how they use their Internet presences to foster a more diverse conservation about identity, race, sexuality, or gender.

- Ian MacAllen, English Kills Review

"Book Excerpt: What It Means to Be a Man"
Nov 20, 2014

Trans author Thomas Page McBee shares true stories of violence and forgiveness from his new memoir, Man Alive.

- Thomas Page McBee, The Advocate

Man Alive appears on Foxing Quarterly's blog Fox Hunting for the feature "On Our Nightstand" in which a staff writer or contributor writes about what book they are currently reading.
Dec 1, 2014

"McBee meditatively repeats the acidic intonation women attach to the word 'men,' like when his mother discovered what his father did to him: 'Men, she'd said then. And I’d learned to say it in the same way, a lemon in my mouth.' What makes a man emerges as a nebulous and entirely individual-based concept. And McBee unflinchingly runs toward his own evolving meaning of manhood, facing the ghosts of his past. Though often painful, his journey is mapped and detailed with great beauty. I’m a third of the way in and it’s difficult not to zip through each short chapter. But I’m trying to walk my way through this one, at a pace fit to take everything in one step at a time."

- Kimberly Whitmer, Foxing Quarterly

"Man Alive named a Best Book of 2014 by Publishers Weekly"

"McBee's memoir sets out to answer the question, 'What makes a man?' But the result is more generous, more inspiring, and more creative than the usual gender binaries. His meditations bring him a hard-won sense of self bound to inspire any reader who has struggled with internal dissonance."

- Publishers Weekly

"The Year's 10 Best Transgender Non-Fiction Books"
Nov 5, 2014

Advocate selects Man Alive by Thomas Page McBee to its 10 Best Transgender Non-Fiction Book List.
"Famed for his evocative essays on masculinity in the Rumpus, trans writer Thomas Page McBee gives readers a short, poetic piece of creative nonfiction unlike anything yet seen in the trans memoir genre.  Carefully avoiding the tendency towards a tell-all, McBee zooms in on his journey toward self-realization as he suffers the post-traumatic anxieties of two pivotal events: his father's sexual abuse of him as a child and his near-death encounter with a mugger."

- Mitch Kellaway, Advocate

"Author Memoir on Transitioning and Gender Coming to Booksmith"
Oct 23, 2014

Thomas Page McBee is interviewed for The Brookline TAB's "Wicked Local" culture blog in promotion of his reading at the Brookline Booksmith on October 27th.

- Jenna Fisher, Brookline TAB

"Featured Author: Thomas Page McBee"
Oct 31, 2014

Thomas Page McBee is profiled by Evan Rodriguez for Kirkus Reviews.
"McBee hopes that Man Alive contributes to the canon of documenting the human condition in a time period when trans-people have been able to move beyond being seen just as an object of curiosity. 'It's a real violence to make someone’s story fundamentally other or different,' he says. He wants his memoir to make a connection and provide a fundamental understanding of what it means to become the person you want to be.  'What makes a man? A man makes himself,' McBee writes."

- Evan Rodrigues, Kirkus Reviews

DigBoston

Chris Faraone of DigBoston explains how Man Alive will become an education staple:
"There's one thing I won’t say when name-dropping Thomas to my grandchildren: That while I knew McBee professionally at the Phoenix, his book revealed a different character altogether. That’s not the case. Sure, I was unaware of specific background details, like of his life-altering street mugging in Oakland and how he arrived at the name Thomas. But the truth is that between his confidence in the newsroom and the way he penned such personal stories without begging for sympathy — a mark of the most mature kind of author there is – I always had a feeling Thomas would eventually produce work as colossal, as important as Man Alive. That’s my story now, and that’s what I’ll say when the day comes that people find out I know Thomas Page McBee, and ask what it was like to work with a man who’s brought such inspiration to so many."


"Thomas Page McBee on His Brush with Death, Transgender Stories, and His Agnostic Mother"
Oct 23, 2014

Thomas Page McBee chats with Chris Stedman for Faitheist about religious themes of his new memoir Man Alive, the influence of his agnostic mother, mortality, religion, and the transgender community, and how men can address their own privilege.

- Chris Stedman, Religion News Service

"Tell the Truth in the Truest Way Possible: A Conversation with Thomas Page McBee"
Oct 21, 2014

Thomas Page McBee in conversation with Marisa Crawford for Fanzine about Thomas's new memoir, Man Alive, and his new work exploring male gender.

- Marisa Crawford, Fanzine

dot429

"Man Alive is a moving personal account of what was not long ago decried as an abomination of nature—a perversion. McBee seeks to honestly reveal the emotional and physical complexity underlying the process of gender reassigment, and when all is over, his transition complete, he'll be just one more ordinary man … The world has changed, but only so much—a fact McBee's memoir illustrates with heartbreaking clarity. "––David Rosen


"Thomas Page McBee | Man Alive | Author Interview"
Oct 15, 2015

Thomas Page McBee is interviewed for Book Circle Online, the world's first online network with shows dedicated to the intimate discussion and dissection of various books. BCO also features one on one author interviews, and engages fellow fans via social media. The interview was recorded for the network’s YouTube channel and will appear as a podcast.

- Jeffrey Masters, Book Circle Online

Out Magazine

"In his quick, compulsive new memoir, Man Alive, Thomas Page McBee details his FTM transition following a moment of explosive violence. Walking home with his girlfriend one night in Oakland, Calif., McBee is nearly killed in a mugging, saved only when the female sound of his voice scares off his attacker. In that moment he feels both alive and not alive at all, recalling childhood traumas and suddenly becoming acutely aware of his struggle to remain in a woman's body when he knows he's a man. Flashing from the past to the present, McBee’s prose is crisp and attentive to the role pain plays in molding our identities. 'Whoever’s child I am, my body belongs to me,' he proclaims, a crystalline reminder that our most fearsome and earthshaking confrontations are the ones we have with ourselves."––Emily Drabinski


"Thomas McBee: Man Alive"
Oct 10, 2014

Thomas Page McBee is interviewed for The Handsome Butch on his new memoir Man Alive and what it means to be a man.

- Rachel Tutera, The Handsome Butch

"'So, What's Your Book About?': Ann Friedman + Thomas McBee in Coversation"
Oct 9, 2014

Ann Friedman talks to Thomas Page McBee about his new memoir, Man Alive, for RADAR Productions, who organize and showcase the authors in the Sister Spit Series.

- Ann Friedman, RADAR Productions

Moving Day Review

"Man Alive ... is not the story of how Thomas Page McBee became a man. Rather, it is the story of how McBee is becoming a man, perhaps even now. McBee and his stunningly fragile relationships with his parents and his partner remind us––women, men, and everyone else––that we cannot achieve masculinity, just as we cannot achieve any other idealized concept of identity. We can only reach, struggle, and continue to become."––Kara Kratcha


Shelf-Awareness

"In many ways, this book occurs at the eye of McBee's storm, a crossroads, a major pivot point in his life. He exercises a profound level of compassion to reconcile his past with his present on behalf of his future. Through conversations with his girlfriend, his mother, siblings, father and extended family, one thing grows abundantly clear: Thomas Page McBee is a man of astonishingly strong character, full of empathy and dynamism. Man Alive isn't a simple memoir; it is a culmination of, as much as it is a springboard into, a manhood that proves to be in the greatest sense alive."––Dave Wheeler


"3 New Books to Pick Up and Read Right Now"
Oct 8, 2014

Man Alive selected by 7x7 as a one of the "3 New Books to Pick Up and Read Right Now."
"When it comes to tales of transgender people, we often hear stories of transwomen (from Jeffrey Tambor on the new Amazon series Transparent to Laverne Cox in Orange Is the New Black), but the stories of transmen are much more rare. Local writer Thomas Page McBee, who was born female, offers an intriguing reverse perspective in his memoir about becoming a man, appropriately titled Man Alive. Given that two of the most memorable men in his life were his abusive father and a mugger who almost killed him, McBee was unsurprisingly conflicted about his transition. He uses his personal story to investigate what it means to be a man, and what it takes to be a good one: a question that holds interesting implications for men, women, and everyone in between."
––Allie Pape, 7x7

- Allie Pape, 7x7

" 'What I've Learned About Being a Man, from Being Born Female' by Thomas Page McBee as told to Alana Levinson"
Sep 24, 2014

Thomas Page McBee, author of Man Alive, tells the story how being held at gunpoint sparked a transition into manhood.

- Alana Levinson, Esquire

Lambda Literary Review

"Like jazz. Compelling. Vivid. Dramatic. One would be hard pressed to find better words to describe McBee's tale … Man Alive doesn't just offer the reader insight into the creative nonfiction genre, but into trans storytelling as well … McBee is among a growing strand of trans literature that considers transition alongside, and often secondarily, to other key events … The focus of Man Alive is held within its first sentence: 'What makes a man?' It's uncertainty, its yearning, its deceptive simplicity, its focus on mythical meanings rather than physical ones, its potentially dark undertones, and its potentially liberating ones chart their course through an early adulthood that is undebted to, yet so much more, than an outward, bodily shift from 'female' to male."––Mitch Kellaway


HTML Giant

"Anger is like the one sacred emotion that traditional gender norms have allowed men. Vengeance is the medium of expression. Thomas' memoir rejects this construct and refuses to turn men into 'monsters.' Again and again, Thomas refuses to succumb to vengeance. He acknowledges that a fistfight or a drunken argument is the prescribed remedy for men who've hurt each other, yet he does the best he can to SEE the men who’ve injured him. He refuses to reduce men to their worst acts by acknowledging their transgressions alongside their suffering. He tries again and again, as best he can to forgive them."––Matt Rohrer


Reviews by Amos Lasssen

"[Man Alive] is really about what Charles Aznavour sings so beautifully about, 'What makes a man'? McBee dares to write about uncertainty and the physical is subjected to the emotional. In answering that very question, McBee looks at the men who have influenced his life—his father and the mugger who threatened to kill him. As he decides to transition from female to male, he attempts to understand these two men as examples of manhood in his life. I love that this personal story is also a universal story."––Amos Lassen


"Book Notes - Thomas Page McBee 'Man Alive' "
Oct 3, 2014

In his own words, here is Thomas Page McBee's "Book Notes" music playlist for his debut novel Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man, featuring songs that he listened to while writing the book.

- David Gutowski, Largehearted Boy

"The Rumpus Interview with Thomas Page McBee"
Oct 1, 2014

Thomas Page McBee in conversation with Anisse Gross for The Rumpus.

- Anisse Gross, The Rumpus

"In Conversation with Thomas Page McBee"
Sep 30, 2014

Julie Greicius interviews her friend and former colleague, Thomas Page McBee, for Midnight Breakfast. 

- Julie Greicius, Midnight Breakfast

"Kat Heché interviews Thomas Page McBee for the 'Books' section of Bustle.com"
Sep 17, 2014

Kat Heché interviews Thomas Page McBee, author of Man Alive, for the 'Books' section of Bustle.com, "It's a transition memoir, but so much more... he charts his journey from trauma to violence to self-acceptance and relates his narrative in a way that is at once intensely personal and universally accessible. It unfolds in a nonlinear fashion, jumping across both time and space as he tries to piece together the pieces of his past to make sense of who he is in the present, and whom he wants to become."

- Kate Heche, Bustle

"Bustle includes 'Man Alive' as one of their 'September 2014's Best Nonfiction Books: 7 Must-Read Titles to Shake Up Your All-Fiction Diet.' "
Sep 2, 2014

"'Being human means being at the mercy of others,' Thomas Page McBee points out in Man Alive. It's one of the many sobering observations he makes in the lyrically written memoir of his transition from female to male. Narrating a series of snapshots of his childhood and twentysomething life, McBee explores not only what defines a man through dissecting his traumatic history, but the mark he'll make as he mints his identity as male. The book reads like fiction — it's smooth as butter — and you’ll digest it in just a few hours. What’ll last, though, is McBee’s humility, and the insight of his lessons, and his meditations on love. In a journey to which you might not think you can relate, you’ll find something on nearly every page that’ll resonate."

- Meredith Turits, Bustle