Roxane Gay Books
Roxane Gay Books
Roxane Gay Books

Frighten the Horses

by Oliver Radclyffe

A textured, sharply written memoir about coming of age in the fourth decade of one’s life and embracing one’s truest self in a world that demands gender fit in neat boxes

  • Imprint Roxane Gay Books
  • Page Count 352
  • Publication Date September 17, 2024
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6315-8
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $28.00
  • Imprint Roxane Gay Books
  • Publication Date September 17, 2024
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6316-5
  • US List Price $28.00

From the outside, Oliver Radclyffe spent four decades living an immensely privileged, beautifully composed life. As the daughter of two well-to-do British parents and the wife of a handsome, successful man from an equally privileged family, Oliver played the parts expected of him. He checked off every box—marriage, children (four), a white-picket fence surrounding a stately home in Connecticut, and a golden retriever named Biscuit.

But beneath the shiny veneer, Oliver was desperately trying to stay afloat as he struggled to maintain a facade of normalcy—his hair was falling out in clumps, he couldn’t eat, and his mood swings often brought him to tears. And then, on an otherwise unremarkable afternoon in September, Oliver Radclyffe woke up and realized the life of a trapped housewife was not one he was ever meant to live. In fact, Oliver had spent his entire life denying the deepest, truest parts of himself. In the wake of this realization, he began the challenging, messy journey toward self-acceptance and living a truer life, knowing he risked the life he’d built to do so.

That journey was fraught, as Oliver navigated leaving a marriage and reintroducing himself to his children. And despite the challenges he faced, Oliver realized there was no way for him to go back to the beautiful lie of his previous life. Not if he wanted to survive.

Frighten the Horses is a trans man’s coming of age story, about a housewife who comes out as a lesbian and tentatively, at first, steps into the world of queerness. With growing courage and the support of his newfound community, Oliver is finally able to face the question of his gender identity and become the man he is supposed to be. The story of a flawed, fascinating, gorgeously queer man, Frighten the Horses introduces Oliver Radclyffe as a witty, arresting, unforgettable voice.


Praise for Frighten the Horses:

“Wise, generous, and fierce, Frighten the Horses is about more than a change of gender; it’s about the perilous process of accepting the self, in all its gnarly, glorious complexity. Oliver Radclyffe finds more than manhood on his inspiring journey; what he finds, in the end, is his humanity.”—Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of She’s Not There, and co-author of Mad Honey

“The finest literary telling of the experience of gender transition that I’ve ever read. It’s a terrific, expansive story because the focus of this warm-hearted man always returns to his children. He’s simply a wonderful parent, and that’s what keeps the reader turning the pages.”—Kate Bornstein, author of Gender Outlaw

“In this exquisite memoir of a trans-man, an upper middle-class Englishwoman gives up her country, her status, her wealth, her marriage, her new lesbian identity (and partner) in order to release and achieve her true male self.  Oliver Radclyffe would be a major writer no matter what subject he embraced.  That he has explored the mysteries of class, gender, nationality makes Frighten the Horses a heart-felt cant-free book of universal interest.”—Edmund White, author of The Humble Lover

“Oliver was born with a silver spoon and lived as a high-end suburban mother-of-four until a passing parade of motorcycle mavens triggered two revelations: s/he wanted to be in love with a woman, and s/he was a man. This easy-to-read, almost jocular memoir is a tribute to how much the trans trajectory has been transformed by the existence of queer bookstores, lesbian and transmasc books, LGBT centers and their accompanying support groups. And how all of this labor to create infrastructure has succeeded in making transition so much more possible, not only for trans people, but for their parents, children, friends and even ex-husbands. This hopeful retelling of one life, from the post-transition perspective, makes trans a more viable possibility and documents this historical moment of opportunity and resource.” —Sarah Schulman, author of Let the Record Show

“A tremendously warm, moving and oh, so Britishly droll account of Radclyffe’s tortured and giddy journey to peel back his own layers and embody the person he was truly meant to be. Anyone who’s struggled with breaking from their own chains and daring to know themselves fully—whether gender-related or otherwise—will find comfort and fellowship in these pages. And hopefully those who have struggled or resisted understanding of what it means to be transgender will have their minds and hearts open, if they only give Radclyffe’s incredibly charming and poignant memoir a chance.”—Tim Murphy, author of Speech Team

“For Oliver Radclyffe, trans becoming is as much about finding himself as it is an awakening to the many gendered narratives that conspire to keep him trapped. Brimming with wry wit, radical candor, and vulnerability, Frighten the Horses is a fearless exploration of the liberation that comes from unwinding the narratives that we don’t choose but so often define us, and the beautiful new futures that exist on the horizon of our imaginations—if we are only willing to risk everything to open our eyes, and really, really look.”—Thomas Page McBee, author of Amateur