Unbound: Book summary and reviews of Unbound by Arlene Stein

Unbound

Transgender Men and the Remaking of Identity

by Arlene Stein

Unbound by Arlene Stein X
Unbound by Arlene Stein
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Book Summary

An intimate portrait of a new generation of transmasculine individuals as they undergo gender transitions.

Award-winning sociologist Arlene Stein takes us into the lives of four strangers who find themselves together in a sun-drenched surgeon's office, having traveled to Florida from across the United States in order to masculinize their chests. Ben, Lucas, Parker, and Nadia wish to feel more comfortable in their bodies; three of them are also taking testosterone so that others recognize them as male. Following them over the course of a year, Stein shows how members of this young transgender generation, along with other gender dissidents, are refashioning their identities and challenging others' conceptions of who they are. During a time of conservative resurgence, they do so despite great personal costs. 

Transgender men comprise a large, growing proportion of the trans population, yet they remain largely invisible. In this powerful, timely, and eye-opening account, Stein draws from dozens of interviews with transgender people and their friends and families, as well as with activists and medical and psychological experts. Unbound documents the varied ways younger trans men see themselves and how they are changing our understanding of what it means to be male and female in America.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A stellar exploration of the complexities and limitations of gender." - Kirkus

"Stein tracks the rapid evolution of gender identity in this provocative group portrait of trans men ... Her book succeeds in documenting what it means to be trans today." - Publisher's Weekly

"This thoughtful study centers the lives and experiences of trans men in the millennial cohort. It will be of interest to trans and cis readers alike." - Library Journal

"Arlene Stein brings insight, wit, and generosity to this perceptive analysis of the dazzling shifts in how we imagine, and live out, gender today. Unbound will surprise readers who thought they had this figured out decades ago." - Janice Irvine, Professor of Sociology, University of Massachusetts

"[A] sympathetic account by non-transgender sociologist Arlene Stein, aimed at a primarily non-transgender audience, of four people assigned female at birth who surgically masculinize their chests. Stein helps her readers understand that they, too, no longer need be bound by conventional expectations of the meaning of our flesh." - Susan Stryker, founding co-editor, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly

"A vivid and fiercely empathetic narrative that juxtaposes nuanced portraits of these young people with a clearly articulated understanding of what it means to navigate a culture that treats gender minorities with contempt, ignorance, and violence. Unbound is a revelatory read that fills an important role in gender studies." - Ryan Berg, author of No House to Call My Home

"Deeper than a broad survey, broader than a memoir, Unbound is an enriching sociological account that enables readers to enter a space typically seen only from afar." - Michael Kimmel, author of Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era

"Unbound is a timely and critical response to the loud silence permeating the current public discourse on gender and transgender experiences, especially the lived realities of transgender men within the US. A critical and stunning work that will shift the ways gender has been politicized and imagined. Should be required reading for all." - Darnell Moore, author of No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America

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Author Information

Arlene Stein

Arlene Stein is professor of sociology at Rutgers University and director of the Institute for Research on Women. The author of six books, she received the Ruth Benedict Prize for her book The Stranger Next Door. Stein has written for The Nation, Jacobin, and The New Inquiry, among other publications. She lives in New Jersey.

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