Bump by Matthew J.Metzger finishes a trilogy of books all focused on the realities facing a transgender man becoming pregnant. Like its predecessors, Erik the Pink and Married Ones, Bump exposes different aspects of a man becoming a father and the ramifications of how the pregnancy affects his body and his emotions while doing so. Each novel deals with a different component of pregnancy with Bump narrowing in on the time frame of conception to birth. This novel is sometimes difficult to read simply because we are privy to the raw pain and upheaval David goes through during his pregnancy. Unlike the other two novels, this one deals with the nitty gritty and gets straight to the heart of what a toll body dysphoria, anxiety, and depression takes on the man as his body grows with child.
David feels as though he has fought all his life to become who he was meant to be and has finally arrived. Now at a place where he regards himself as a man first and the label transgender as a far second in his thoughts, he is happy with his partner, Ryan, and comfortable with Ryan’s daughter, Ava. David and Ryan have even discussed adopting a child together and they are both sure they want a second child in their lives. After a car accident leaves David facing some time with lower doses of hormone therapy in order to fully recover, the unthinkable happens—David discovers he is pregnant. His first thought is to abort, but after realizing that this is something he has wanted since he was young, David and Ryan agree to move forward and keep the baby. As weeks move to months and David’s body becomes softer and less masculine, the old fears and sense of panic ramp up and he is convinced he should have never agreed to carry the baby to term.
There is so much to this novel that I fear my meager review will never really do justice to the incredible impact this story had on me. This author writes with such clarity and truth that you cannot help but feel plunged directly into the lives of the characters he creates. In this case, my heart wept for David as his world slowly fell apart and all sense of control was wrenched from him as his body morphed into a more feminine construct. With brutal honesty, the author relates how it must feel to find your real self slipping away and then feel the past pain of being in the wrong body with no means to change it threaten to break you apart. Thankfully, there is Ryan, David’s partner, to help him along the way and friends and family to support him. However, there is still the constant battle with his skewed perceptions of himself and the torture of facing a public that can never understand the idea of a man being pregnant. The humiliation that David feels is sometimes of his own making and yet it is bolstered by real life experiences that will make you want to weep for the shame he feels.
Despite my seeming to paint a dark and negative picture of this novel, please know that David is so loved and it is that love and support that ultimately keep him from falling to a place where he can no longer cope. This story is a journey—a hard one—a painful one, but the payoff in the end is miraculous and beautiful. There is triumph at the end of this story, quiet and low key, but victorious nonetheless. While each of the three novels Metzger wrote concerning this topic have different characters and circumstances, they all unmask the phases of what it is like to be a person who must fight against their own mind and body, which is set on undoing all the stable ground the person has achieved. The sacrifices each of these men go through in order to bring a child into the world is staggering. The stories are realistic, emotionally charged, and beautifully written. Bump is an incredibly brave and masterful story of hope and triumph and I highly recommend it to you.