Real Man Adventures

T Cooper, Real Man Adventures (San Francisco: McSweeney’s Books, 2012)

Cooper - Real Man Adventures
Cooper has a powerful way of pulling the reader into his story. He starts by speaking of what appears on the outside and then slowly strips away the layers for a very revealing memoir. Along the way he takes the reader on a journey and does a great deal of teaching about a subject that was, for me at least, quite unfamiliar. I two have one close friend and two additional acquaintances who are transgender. But I have little curiosity about the details of their transformation. All three made the transition from male to female. While I know that there are transgender people who have made the transition from female to male, it isn’t likely that I would know that detail about an individual unless he chose to share it with me. T Cooper does choose to share, in intimate detail.

The question that I pondered as I read, which is discussed in one chapter by Cooper is when does an individual cease being in transition and just become a single gender. Is it when the hormone therapy has done its work and secondary sexual characteristics have changed? Is it when the name and the pronoun changes? I guess for me it seems that once a person has made the transformation in the public eye, from my perspective I have no way of knowing that he or she is “trans” nor do I need to know. The intimate details of another person’s anatomy are not for me to know. I don’t need to have the details. I am comfortable in relating to the person as presented to me.

Still, it is valuable that Cooper has shared so intimately so that the rest of us might gain a degree of understanding and increase our ability to accept others.