Peterson, Samuel. “Trunky: Transgender Junky”, Transgress Press, 2016
Samuel Peterson’s ‘Trunky” is a modern day tragic-comedy about the struggle of human addiction and recovery. After a decade of sobriety and relentless devotion to becoming a writer, Trunky finds himself on the brink of success but then he spirals down into depression and begins using heroin again. This relapse is different from those that came before and Trunky ends up institutionalized in a recovery center in the south among a other dopers who are thugs, criminals, white supremacists, professional athletes and business men who are all looking for something they’re terrified of finding. As Trunky navigates his struggle from addition to recovery and from female to manhood, he finds himself on an unexpected journey into the human soul where he discovers that those fundamental flaws and the redemption we experience requires courage.
This is an look at addiction and recovery without self-pity. Peterson’s honesty about what leads to addiction is relatable and moving. His account of the added problem of being trans in an institutional setting, and the lack of transitional housing when it was time to leave, is very disturbing and an important addition to public discourse on addiction treatment.
Through his use of detail, Peterson captures the anguish of addiction and provides insight into his struggle for redemption and visibility as a man. We begin to understand the devastation of addiction, the struggle for gender authenticity and the culture within a Federal Bureau of Prisons Residential Drug Abuse Program.
Big topics are covered here including trauma, the body, gender, addiction and Peterson writes about them honestly and with wit and style self-deprecation. Peterson is aware of the ways in which we create narratives and personae that then allow us to find a place in the world. At the same time, he shows how us these narratives can set us apart from others and hurt our ability to know who we really want or need to be. By exploring his experiences of addiction, recovery, and relapse as well as dysmorphia and transition, Peterson is able to say that it is through persistent critique of our own personal narratives and engagement with those of others, that we can get better and become better.
It is Peterson’s honesty about what kind of thought leads to addiction that allow us to relate to what he has to say. His is fresh and he shares many ideas with us.