Daring new theories of masculinity, built from a large and geographically diverse interview study of transgender men
American masculinity is being critiqued, questioned, and reinterpreted for a new era. In Men in Place Miriam J. Abelson makes an original contribution to this conversation through in-depth interviews with trans men in the U.S. West, Southeast, and Midwest, showing how the places and spaces men inhabit are fundamental to their experiences of race, sexuality, and gender.
Men in Place explores the shifting meanings of being a man across cities and in rural areas. Here Abelson develops the insight that individual men do not have one way to be masculine—rather, their ways of being men shift between different spaces and places. She reveals a widespread version of masculinity that might be summed up as “strong when I need to be, soft when I need to be,” using the experiences of trans men to highlight the fundamental construction of manhood for all men.
With an eye to how societal institutions promote homophobia, transphobia, and racism, Men in Place argues that race and sexuality fundamentally shape safety for men, particularly in rural spaces, and helps us to better understand the ways that gender is created and enforced.
Miriam J. Abelson is assistant professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies at Portland State University.
"What does it mean to be a man in the 21st century? Through moving interviews with trans men from across the United States, Miriam J. Abelson documents that there is no easy answer to this question. Men in Place shows us that we cannot begin to understand what it means to be a man without understanding race and space. Abelson weaves a story of manhood that is almost always just out of reach for all men, a Goldilocks masculinity that must be managed, tailored, and altered depending on the environment. Men in Place is a must read for scholars interested in masculinity and its meanings across space." —C.J. Pascoe, University of Oregon
"Men in Place boldly investigates the intersections of white supremacy, economic strain, and rurality as they shape disparities in the experiences of rural trans men of color and their white counterparts. With powerful detail, Miriam J. Abelson demonstrates how the willingness of cis people to embrace trans men as men is shaped by their perception of local and external threats to their community—threats that are not just related to gender and sexuality, but also demographic and economic transformations. This book's substantial and diverse sample of trans men and its critical race and feminist theoretical orientation make Men in Place a unique and necessary contribution to trans studies." —Jane Ward, author of Not Gay: Sex between Straight White Men