For appearances:
Wade Lucas at Penguin Random House:
walucas@penguinrandomhouse.com

For press Inquires:
Kris Dahl at ICM
KDahl@icmpartners.com

For information about Long Black Veil:
PR@randomhouse
rrokicki@penguinrandomhouse.com

To contact Jenny directly:
jb@jenniferboylan.net

Blog

  • JFB.com Blog

    Boylans in The Atlantic: “Every Family is a Nontraditional Family.”

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    At 42, James Boylan was married to a woman he loved. They lived in Waterville, Maine with their two sons. Boylan taught English at Colby College.

    Then he became Jenny. Never at home in a male body, Boylan underwent gender reassignment surgery and wrote about it in her 2003 memoir She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders. Her new book, Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders, reflects on what her transition to a woman means as both a parent and a partner in her family, which has remained united. We spoke about what she’s learned about women, how she and her wife Deedie navigate intimacy, and what her experience tells us about the ever-changing concept of the American family.


    Can you talk about the transgender spectrum?

    Transgender is a way of talking about all sorts of gender-variants as if we had something in common with each other. Gender-queer people, cross-dressers, transsexuals, and drag queens don’t really have all that much in common. Ru Paul who, when the wig is off, is a gay man, doesn’t have anything in common with Amanda Simpson, who was appointed in the U.S. Commerce Department by Obama as the first transgender presidential appointee. They might not have anything in common with someone like, say, Leslie Feinberg or Kate Bornstein, who are more interested in the political aspect. They are very different.

    Is being transsexual genetic? Is there a biological component?

    The science is getting better, but it’s not especially conclusive. Trans-sexuality seems to have its genesis in the sixth week of pregnancy when fetuses form brain structures usually associated with that of the opposite sex. It might have to do with the hormone bath that the fetus is in or it might be something else entirely. I don’t know if it’s genetic, but it does seem to be neurological. It’s not related to anything you grow up with. It doesn’t have to do with how your parents treated you. And it doesn’t have anything to do with whom you’re attracted to. Although sexuality and gender overlap in such interesting ways that it’s easy to get confused.

    What are the biggest misconceptions people have about transsexuals?

    The hardest thing is for people who aren’t transsexual to be compassionate and have the imagination to recognize that this is the defining crisis of someone’s life. If you’re trying to live in a body that you’re not wired for, it’s like paddling upstream against the current in a tiny boat. Because people who are not transsexual have never had this problem, they assume that it must not really be a problem. If you’re not trans, you wake up in the morning and don’t worry what sex you are. For people who do have to worry, people for whom it is a constant, agonizing heartbreak, others think it’s funny or strange. It’s a measure of our compassion as human beings. Can you understand the problems of someone who is not you? I didn’t change genders because I was really gay and couldn’t accept it. I didn’t change genders to be more feminine, quite frankly. It’s not about femininity, it’s about femaleness. It’s not about playing with dolls or making brownies or whatever cliché of femininity we have. It’s about finding peace in your own skin.

    How has the media played a role in shaping the way the public responds to transsexuals?

    I was on the Larry King Show in 2005 and remember having a conversation about the caption below my name saying “professor” or “author.” They ended up using “had sex change operation.” I thought, really?

    Why aren’t there many role models for transsexuals?

    Gay people who are out increasingly spend much of the rest of their lives going about their business. Transsexual people, if they come out in a public way, more often than not fade into the woodwork in two or three years. A lot of trans people “go stealth” which means that you transition and move somewhere and don’t tell people about your past. But if sexual transition is marked by seamlessly integrating into the culture, there aren’t visible transsexual people of an older generation. If you think of trans people you know, it’s mostly people on the street who don’t pass well. But if a transsexual does pass, you don’t know.

    How central is gender to identity? Are you the same person underneath?

    When transsexuals go through transition, the great question is: Who am I going to be on the other side? Will I be some completely new person? The great surprise is no, of course you’re not. I went through the adolescent period that transsexuals go through, feeling out what parts of the new personality were going to be the keepers. There are probably some things that are a little different, but I’m not conscious of them. You still have the same history, sense of humor, parents, and children as you had before. What I don’t have is secrets. It’s not so much going from male to female as going from a person who had secrets to a person who doesn’t have secrets anymore. The big thing is, I wake up in the morning and don’t have to think about gender.

    When Deedie gave birth to your boys, did you re-question your sexual identity? Or did you think, “Ok, I’m a father now”?

    Yeah, I felt, I’m a father. Any ambivalence about being a man I have to let go of because it’s now about something bigger than me. When they were born I thought, “Okay cowboy, you better get in character here!” And I’ll tell you what: If I could’ve pulled off that stunt, I would have. But I wonder if I could’ve given them a better life. I think maybe all of our lives are better, full of more surprise and gratitude as a result of having to find our way through this domain.

    When you first came out, did men and women react differently?

    Absolutely. Women, generally, were very welcoming. Almost from the get-go, women were like, “Welcome to the sisterhood!” One friend from Ireland wrote, “Welcome! It’s bloody brilliant being a girl.” But even the hippie, groovy boys I knew from college were very uncomfortable. Some of those relationships have never really been repaired. There was much more negotiation that had to be done. And some of them may never have quite accepted me as a woman but kind of play along with me, which I find insulting. The women were interested in the transition and wanted to talk about womanhood and gender. And maybe women are more accustomed to knowing that gender is a difficult world that has to be navigated whereas the guys didn’t want to hear about. It might also be that a lot of my close male friends were upset that I’d kept something hidden. You can see how they’d respond with disbelief and a sense of sadness that they didn’t know me in the way they thought they did. So it could’ve been a sense of loss.

    What did you learn from your father about how to be a man? And how have you passed that on to your boys?

    The things my father taught me are very different from what I’m teaching my boys. A lot of them have to do with silence and being strong for other people and not being particularly emotional. I think my sons are more emotional and more loving as a result of having both Deedie and me as parents.

    He died before you came out—how do you think he would’ve reacted?

    He wouldn’t have liked it one bit. He belonged to a certain class of men who, if you have a problem, you keep it to yourself. If someone in the family has a divorce, it’s a shame we don’t speak of.

    What have you learned about women since you’ve become one?

    No one goes from male to female in this culture in order to get a better deal. I immediately noticed downsides—both in terms of little things like not being listened to in the same way, being less of an authority figure in the classroom than I used to me, to feeling vulnerable. I used to be fearless, I would go anywhere. And I’ve felt threatened by men, especially when I was out with the band, playing at sketchy bars late at night. So I feel more vulnerable in the world. But guess what? All of these problems belong to me. They come with the territory. I won’t make light of any of them, but they’re a fair price to pay for being yourself.

    What about the positives?

    I cry freely and I laugh freely. I don’t hesitate to express love for people, and I live in a much more emotionally volatile place now. Ninety percent of the time, it’s a really good thing.

    When you were a father, you were “goofy, feckless”—and now, as their mother, you nag more. Can you talk about the shift?

    I wonder whether, to some degree, it’s cultural. Whether men have more room to play in. I’m still the goofier of the two parents. But changing genders is a harrowing experience. It left me sobered up in the world. And the older my sons have gotten, the more dangerous the world seems. When they were little, I could protect them by feeding them and holding them. But when they get in an automobile and drive away, there’s nothing I can do to save them. In some ways, it’s not only gender—it’s also the passage of time.

    How have you and Deedie negotiated co-parenting?

    We had a pretty egalitarian marriage even back in the day. Early in the transition, we were on new ground. We’d both be in the ladies room at the same time—that was weird. Or there’d be two women’s blouses in the hamper. But we both cook, both nurture the boys. Deedie was a soccer coach for years. So we were never socked in traditional gender roles. I think that’s true of a lot of couples. What it means to be a husband or wife has changed.

    The gender of the parents means nothing compared to the love that they bring to each other and to the kids

    You say that part of being a man is “to be silent.” Has becoming a woman allowed you to be more open?

    Yes. My job as a dad, I felt, was protector. Sometimes you keep your family out of trouble by keeping your mouth shut. A lot of women would disagree, but a lot of men would probably say, “Well yeah.” I thought I was protecting my family by not being public about being trans. I carried a lot of sadness around, but thought I was taking the bullet for my family. I’ll bear the sadness if it keeps us from having a really weird life. I think our family is more vulnerable now. But we’ve been mostly really blessed. We’ve seen how good people can be. Many people I expected to lose when I came out stood by me. I married Deedie because I thought love would “cure” me. And I was cured by love—just not the way I thought. Finally someone loved me enough to stand by me when I went through this.

    Your title states that this book is about life in “three genders”—what’s the third?

    That’s the in-between period I visited in the heart of transition, when people perceived me as male or female based on random cues, like whether I had earrings in, or whether my hair was tied back. But you don’t have to be transgender to know that there’s plenty of room in the definitions of “maleness” and “femaleness” and if you think of gender as a wide spectrum, with Arnold Schwarzenegger at one end and Christina Hendricks at the other, well, most people don’t live in those extremes. Most people fall somewhere along the spectrum. That’s the great thing. It should be about living anywhere along that spectrum that feels like it’s you.

    You write, “Every single family in the world is a nontraditional family.” How has the idea of a “traditional” American household evolved?

    Increasingly, Americans seem to be able to incorporate all kinds of difference into their lives. There’s more acceptance of gay marriage, kids have friends whose parents are gay. Our culture has become more diverse and more accepting. I don’t want to sound like Pollyanna because I know how kids are bullied. And I just read about a transgendered woman in Ohio who was murdered. It’s a very tough world for transgendered people. But I do believe that things are slowly getting better.

    What can your experience teach us about how children grow up in non-traditional households?

    I’m not saying it doesn’t make any difference whether it’s a man and a woman, or two women, or a single parent. The differences in families affect how children develop. But the gender of the parents means nothing compared to the love that they bring to each other and to the kids.

    You claim, “Motherhood and fatherhood are no longer unalterable binaries.” Do you think we are now at a turning point in history where roles are being rewritten?

    As long as people keep loving each other, there will be families with two parents and some kids. As long as those people have different characters, they’re going to do different things as parents. It will be more a result of their character than the feeling that they have to be a certain way because they’re male or female. We’re seeing lots of dads staying home and being nurturers and a lot of women in the workforce. As long as there’s love in the family, the specifics of each person’s job doesn’t really matter, does it?

    Growing up as a boy, did you desire men sexually?

    No, never.

    Did that happen as a result of your transition to a woman?

    I would still define myself as a lesbian. A lot of the trans women I know, if they’re single, will check out men to see what that’s all about, but will often return to women, if they were attracted to women in the first place. There’s no generalization you can make about what people will do after transition. Post-transition I began to see men differently. I was able to see what was cute about men, what was great about them, to appreciate them with a sense of love and gratitude. I don’t know if that’s quite been the same as lust. My polestar has always been Deedie and my sense of desire has never been very far from her.

    Did your desire for her change when you changed genders?

    It did. Orgasm as a woman is very different, and sex drive is different. All those things are true. But the object of all that desire for me, very specifically meaning Deedie, hasn’t changed.

    There’s a heartbreaking moment in your book when the ball drops on New Year’s Eve and Deedie won’t kiss you. How have you negotiated the loss of sexual intimacy in your relationship?

    I don’t want to be glib about this serious issue because there are times when not having a more vigorous intimate relationship drives me crazy. It’s an issue we wrestle with. But all the love and the time we spend together and the family more than makes up for that. I don’t spend a lot of time staring out the window wiping the tears away. I think that, in some ways, the relationship Deedie and I have might be more familiar to people who have been married for 25 or more years than you might think. When we first went through transition we weren’t sure if we could get through it, but now it doesn’t seem particularly hard.

    Is there any part of being a woman that you think you’ve missed out on?

    There are some things I’m never going to learn. Like a French braid. I’m never going to know how to do that. Screw that. You know what’s funny—hormones had such a dramatic effect on me early on. My first four or five years in the female sex I had a period of looking like an attractive young woman. That was really cool. But my body has caught up with its chronological age. To some degree, I’m sorry I missed out on some of the party of being in this body when I was young. But it’s beyond silly to look behind your shoulder and wish things could’ve been otherwise. My life as a boy was not a bad life. I was really a very lucky person. I’d published novels, I fell in love, I had children, I got a teaching job in Maine that I love. And then I went through the transition and I’ve had this life. It’s pretty hard not to be grateful. I’ve seen things that most men and most women have never gotten to see. The thing that I thought used to be the great curse turned out to be a gift.

    Your community has been, for the most part, incredibly supportive of your transition. If you lived in a different part of the country would this have been a harder experience?

    I think it would’ve. I think some people don’t think I’m aware of exactly how lucky I’ve been, and I can tell you—I am aware. It does have something to do with living in Maine, where people respect your privacy a little bit. It has a lot to do with race and social class and education. But it’s also sheer luck. Nothing bad has ever happened to my children, and very few bad things have ever happened to me.

    It’s interesting when you point out that a lot of your friends have divorced while you and Deedie have stayed together.

    What has brought Deedie and me together is not my being a woman but us going through something that was very hard and having to rely on each other. The loss of her sister and then the loss of my own mom were harrowing and sad. Those moments teach you the depth of your relationship, the depth of your love with someone. When we first started going through transition, people said—”Oh, you need to divorce, you need to marry men.” The idea that the two of us would choose each other didn’t occur to them. And as the people who told us to get a divorce have themselves gotten divorced, we think people should be careful about the advice they give. One thing people said was “oh those poor children”—and now I’ve got a freshman at Vassar and an 11th grader who was just inducted into the National Honor Society, who was singing and dancing on a stage last week, who builds beautiful origami, who’s a nationally ranked fencer. Both of my boys are delightfully funny, smart kids. When people say “What about your boys” I want to say, “What about your boys?”

    You interviewed authors about their experiences as parents and children. What did you learn?

    The experience of being a child exists on such a wide, wide spectrum. You look at Edward Albee whose resentment of his adoptive parents still simmers. He’s still angry at these people for not understanding him. Rick Russo whose father wasn’t around at all, always going to the track or two the bar, loves his father and forgives him. There are so many different experiences of childhood and parenting that it’s remarkable we’re talking about the same thing. We should be grateful for all of it and spend less time worrying where we fit in.

    This interview is edited for length and clarity.

  • JFB.com Blog

    Boylans on Yahoo Shine

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Transgender Author Jennifer Finney Boylan Went From Dad to Mom: How it Changed Her Family
    By Beth Greenfield, Shine Staff | Mother’s Day – Fri, May 3, 2013 12:28 PM EDT

    You can read this piece at the original Yahoo Shine site.

    Deedie ("Grace"), Jenny, Zach, & Sean Finney Boylan

    Boylan with sons Sean and Zachary and wife Deedie. Photo: Courtesy Jenny Boylan
    There are not too many people in the world who can say they’ve been both a mother and a father. But Jennifer Finney Boylan, née James Boylan, can.

    As James—a dark-haired man with a “feminine streak” who was a teacher of literature and a fan of Grateful Dead music—he met and fell in love with his wife, Deedie, in his late twenties, and soon became a father to their two sons. But James was harboring a secret: He was transgender, and, in his heart, had never truly felt male. He suppressed the notion for several years after marrying Deedie, but it eventually racked him with debilitating anger and sadness.

    “I used to tear my hair out thinking, when you have children, you’re not only living for yourself,” Boylan told Yahoo! Shine in an interview this week. “I was willing to bear a pretty heavy burden that meant keeping the people around me safe, but I got to the point where I couldn’t take another step living a life of falsehood.”

    And so, beginning when his sons Sean (now 17) and Zachary (now 19) were about 3 and 5 years old, James, with Deedie’s eventual blessing, began the major, at times heart-wrenching transition to become Jenny. It was a four-year process that began with a difficult conversation with Deedie when James was 44, and culminated with surgery to become a fully physically female (Though the “transition doesn’t end with surgery. And surgery is not the most important thing,” she stresses). Boylan wrote about her transition in what became a best-selling 2003 memoir, “She’s Not There,” landing her on Oprah and making her one of the most recognizable trans individuals in the country.

    Now the professor of English at Colby College in Maine and author of a dozen books has published a follow-up to that memoir, “Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders,” exploring what it means to have been a father for 6 years, a mother for 10, and, “for a time in between, neither, or both.” Woven between the chapters of her personal family stories are illuminating interviews about parenthood and childhood, with folks including fellow writers Edward Albee, Augusten Burroughs and Susan Minot. The complete package is a groundbreaking look at what it means to be a mother, or a father, and what differences there are, if any, anymore.

    As a father, Boylan was more “goofy” and playful. As a mother, she told Shine, “I helicopter over them more than I used to,” because now, as a woman, “I’m aware of the vulnerability of people, I’m aware of the danger. I’ve been at risk in the world, so that means I know the risks that other people face.”

    But, in general, she stressed, the gender of parents turns out to not be of utmost importance at this point in time. “So you can look at a heteronormative family, you can look at two moms, two dads, single moms, single dads, adoptive families. There are so many ways to be a family, and none of that matters as much as the love that’s in that family,” she explained. “That shouldn’t be a revolutionary thing to say, but I think it is, in certain circles.”

    The love in Boylan’s family clearly runs deep. When she began her transition, Jenny and her wife “cried, like, every day for two years,” she recalls, “just beside ourselves with loss.” Eventually, though, she said they “realized that what we were going to keep was more important than what we’d lost.” They decided to stay married—it’s now been 25 years—but there have been complications, as Jenny identifies as a lesbian and Deedie does not.

    “It does mean that we each want different things in a sexual relationship, so that’s awkward,” Boylan admitted. “We are two women who love each other who are raising children that are our biological children. We sleep in the same bed. We adore each other.” And, while noting that sexual intimacy is not the only form of intimacy in a long marriage, she does add, “I don’t mean to downplay the importance of sex, because I love sex, and the absence of sex makes me feel mournful and hollow sometimes. Makes each of us feel that way. But anyone who judges our relationship only by that is totally missing the point.”

    The love and understanding exhibited by their sons is also pretty powerful. In the book, Boylan writes about how Sean and Zachary come to accept the transformation of father to mother with a gentle, intelligent wisdom—how they decided to call her “Maddy,” since it was a nice combo of Mom and Daddy, how they confided in her about growing pains as they grew into young men, and how they even kept her in check, from time to time, about being true to herself. In fact, when Boylan told the family she was going to write another memoir, it was Zach who said, “OK, fine. But if you’re going to write about us, could you use our real names this time?”

    When asked what they must have done as parents to raise such understanding sons, Boylan said they had done things both consciously—reading to them every day, encouraging imagination, having a sense of humor, sitting down to meals together—and unconsciously, that she hopes have made their mark. For examples of the latter, she explained, “Just by having such a curious other mother, my sons have had to learn to be compassionate and open-hearted. And I think they’ve come to be more sympathetic to all the world’s outliers and outcasts, because they know what it’s like to be among people who are different, who have big hearts and big souls, and who are full of love. And who are nonetheless vulnerable in the world as a result.”

    At one point during this interview, Deedie and Zach paid a visit, and Deedie added to Jenny’s estimation. “Our speculation is that we were never ashamed of anything,” she said. “Plus they’re cool kids who always had cool friends.”

    Zach, an open-faced, handsome young man with tousled brown curls, talked a bit about having a family life that was under so much public scrutiny. “I’ve just sort of grown up with it, and grown used to it,” he explained. “And also just, in this day and age, with Facebook and social media, people are already putting themselves out there without having a semi-famous parent. So I mean, it’s not something that troubles me. I grew up with it.” Then Boylan chimed in with the story about Zach requesting she write with their real names, and said to him, by way of explaining fake monikers the first time around, “I always thought I was shielding you.”

    “From what?” Zach asked.

    “From the cruelty of the world,” she said. “I think that’s something that I took from being a father. Being the dad, I always felt that I was the shield, and now I’m the trouble.”

    “I totally get it,” Zach replied. “But no one’s ever given me a hard time.”

    Zach even talked about his family on national TV this week, telling Brian Williams in an interview set to air Friday night, “If normal is a family that has a mom and a dad, and two kids and a white picket fence, then no, I don’t live in a normal family. But if a normal family is one where everybody treats each other as a family, and as equals, and with love, then yeah, I live in a normal family.”

    Getting honest stories about trans people and their families into the public eye is one of the main reasons Boylan—who appeared on The Today Show Friday morning, has been on Oprah several times, and takes on frequent speaking engagements—continues to put herself out there.

    “When I was a Wesleyan University student in the late ’70s, I knew I was trans, I tried to learn about other people like me, and there was nobody. Who? Renée Richards? I couldn’t relate to her at all,” she explains, referring to the professional tennis player who underwent sex-reassignment surgery in 1975. “Sometimes I wish I had my privacy back, but on the other hand, now, whoever the equivalent of me is at Wesleyan knows that I’m in the world. They know that Chaz Bono’s in the world. They know there are all sorts of ways of being trans. And that’s good work to do.”

  • JFB.com Blog

    Boylans on the TODAY Show: “The gender of parents is less important than the love in the family.”

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Here’s my wife Deedie (“Grace”) and my son Zach and me on the TODAY Show, Friday May 3, 2013, talking about my new book, STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU, and “parenthood in three genders.”

    Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    May 3, 2013 at 10:27 AM ET

    Best-selling transgender author Jennifer Finney Boylan and her wife have maintained a loving relationship with their two sons.

    “What we know is that the gender of parents is a whole lot less important than the love in the family,’’ said Boylan, who underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2002, on TODAY Friday.

    In her new book, “Stuck in the Middle With You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders,” Boylan writes about raising a family while transitioning. Jennifer, her wife Deedie and son Zach spoke with Willie Geist on TODAY Friday and also conducted an interview with Harry Smith that will air on “Rock Center with Brian Williams” at 10 p.m. ET on Friday. More at the TODAY Show site

  • JFB.com Blog

    Boylans on Rock Center with Brian Williams

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Here’s our family on Rock Center with Brian Wililams, Harry Smith, correspondent. Part of “Stuck in the Middle with You” coverage.

    Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

  • JFB.com Blog

    Publication day for STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU!

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Here at last comes the new book.  Look for us on the TODAY SHOW this Friday morning between 8 and 9, and on ROCK CENTER WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS that night.  Likewise gird yourself for a spread in PEOPLE coming out on Wednesday, and interviews and articles in yahoo.com, and The Atlantic, all coming next week.

    I’ll be doing a goodreads Q and A Tomorrow, Wednesday May 1.

    You can buy the book- as well as the 10th anniversary edition of SHE’S NOT THERE–with a new afterword from me and a new epilogue by my wife Deedie “Grace” Boylan– from a variety of booksellers here.

    In the meantime, here’s a really nice review from Edge magazine.

    “The memoir “Stuck In The Middle With You” by the New York Times bestseller Jennifer Finney Boylan deals with prejudice and that poisoned chalice of unfair judgment in such a way that will penetrate even the most cynical and critical reader. Written softly with a clement fondle or nuzzle the, now, mother of two is both funny and harrowing – a balance so difficult to perfect.

    After being a father for six children and then undergoing a surgery as a transgender, Jennifer Finney Boylan uses this opportunity with her latest book to discuss parenting from a completely new angle; a perspective so absolutely necessary in this day and age of gender discussion that has infiltrated what we comfortably can call human equality or basic human rights. Not only has she kept her kids names in the book as they are (by their request), but also she has clawed deeply into the experiences of being a father figure (from the sports field) and a mother figure (making lunch bags) while dealing with all the emotional wrenching that comes with both… click here to read the rest!

    Sincere thanks to everyone who brought me to this point, including editors and publicists at Random House, but most of all my wonderful family– Deedie, Zach, and Sean. And brother Todd and sister Susie.  You are all angels.

  • JFB.com Blog

    Quick update on the 4/18 Ithaca, NY event

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Hi!  I have a little more info on the 4/18 reading in Ithaca NY this Thursday.  It’s at 7 PM at the First Unitarian Church of Ithaca, on 306 North Aurora Street.  The event starts at 7, with a book signing a little after 8 PM.

    I hope if you’re in the Finger Lakes region you’ll come out and say hello.  The 10th anniversary edition of SHE’S NOT THERE will be on sale!

    Also– this just in– another event has been added to the May calendar– it’s October 15, at Oregon State U., in Corvalis.  Hope to see you there!

  • JFB.com Blog

    Next stop: Clark U (Worcester, MA) & Ithaca NY & Los Angeles

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Hello Cupcakes.

    A quick check in from the Travel Desk here– it’s off to lovely Clark University in Worcester MA for me on Thursday April 11; I’ll be reading on campus that evening (the event is at 6:30 in Atwood Hall). This is the second time I’ve done an event at Clark; last time round, in 2009, they treated me like bloody royalty.  I’m very happy to be returning.

    The week after, on Thursday the 18th, I’ll be reading at Planned Parenthood in Ithaca, NY. This reading is of special importance to me because of the role my sister in law, the late Katie Finney played in my life.  Katie lived in the Ithaca region for many years, and was on the board of directors of PP in Ithaca, one of her favorite non-profits.  So this reading will give me a chance to reconnect with friends in the Finger Lakes region, and to think about Katie, who, as readers of my work may know, in some ways enabled my wife and I to realize the depth of our love for each other.  It was Katie who said, when she heard the news of my transition, “Oh, I’m so glad it’s only that you’re a woman; I was afraid it was something serious.”

    The day after the Ithaca event, I‘ll fly out to L.A. for the GLAAD media awards gala on Saturday night, April 20, where I’ll be hosting a table and wearing a little black dress.  If you’re interested in joining me at the gala, PLEASE reach out via email (see the contact tab on this page) and I’ll tell you what to do.  It’s not a cheap date–it’s a fundraiser, darling– but it’s for a good cause.  This is my last scheduled appearance in California until the summer, I believe, so do please join me!

  • JFB.com Blog

    JFB notes from all over: Early Spring 2013

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Jennifer Finney Boylan with author Augusten Burroughs at the 2013 NYC GLAAD media awards gala.

    Greetings from Belgrade Lakes, from the heart of a busy spring.  Next up is a visit to the University of Maine, in Orono, for two events on Thursday March 21st:

    First up, a guest lecture in Professor Caron’s Sexuality class, at 12:30 in DPCorbett.  Then, at 3 PM, I’ll be giving a public lecture in the Bangor Room of the Memorial Union.  I’ll be reading from my new book, STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU: Parenthood in Three Genders, as well as talking about the tenth anniversary edition of SHE’S NOT THERE. Both books are coming out from Random House in about a month– end of April.

    Next week will find me in Winter Park Florida, at Rollins College, where I’ll be giving a reading and a signing.  I’ll be meeting with smaller groups during the day and giving a public reading at 6 PM on campus on Thursday March 28.  If you’re in the area, do come by– this is my only Florida appearance, so far as I know, scheduled this year.

    April will be a cyclone, featuring the publication of the two new books, and appearances by me and the family on two NBC shows– the TODAY show on the morning of April 26, and Rock Center with Brian Williams that same night. The correspondent is Harry Smith, who was tremendously decent to all of us during the shoot last week.  There are other readings scheduled for April– Clark University in Worcester, Mass, on the 11th, and at Ithaca Planned Parenthood on April 18.  Plus, the Los Angeles GLAAD media awards gala on April 20. I’ll be posting more on the April book tour and rollout as it gets nearer.

    JFB and amazing wife Deedie ("Grace") Boylan at the GLAAD awards, 3/16/13

    There will be an excerpt from the new book as well as a feature on my family, and an interview and photo spread of all of us, in PEOPLE magazine, on sale the last week of April.  With any luck, all of this will jump start the book, and I hope it finds its way into the hands of plenty of readers.

    This last week I was lucky enough to speak at the Keystone Conference in Harrisburg, PA, and I want to thank all the folks I met there.  It was on to the GLAAD media awards Gala in NYC right after that; you can see some of the photos from that event on this page including this photo of me with my guest Augusten Burroughs.

    You may have heard news of Madonna, wearing a cub scout uniform, making a tribute to Anderson Cooper, and yes: that happened.  But for me the bigger story was the speech made by GLAAD’s president, Herndon Graddick, in which he dedicated the organization to transgender advocacy, placing trans rights at the center of what the organizaiton does. For my guests, most of the transfolks of one stripe or another, it was a very moving moment.

    That’s the quick rundown from here.  See you soon, I hope– with love, JFB

  • JFB.com Blog

    Latest Psychology Today blog: “In the Early Morning Rain”

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    JFB in boy days; this photo is circa 1974.

    My latest blog at Psychology Today is up.  This one’s a re-visit of a story first told, in somewhat different form, in She’s Not There.

    When I was young there was a time when I figured, the hell with it. I’d never even said the word transgender out loud. I couldn’t imagine saying it, ever. I mean, please.So instead, one day a few years after I got out of college, I loaded all my things into the Volkswagen and started driving. I wasn’t sure where I was going, but I knew I wanted to get away from the Maryland spring, with its cherry blossoms and its bursting tulips and all its bullshit. I figured I’d keep driving father and farther north until there weren’t any people. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do then, but I was certain something would occur to me that would end this transgender business once and for all.

    I set my sights on Nova Scotia. I drove to Maine and took a ferry out of Bar Harbor. I drove onto the S.S. Bluenose and stood on the deck and watched America drift away behind me, which as far as I was concerned was just fine.

    There was someone walking around in a rabbit costume on the ship. He’d pose with you and they’d snap your picture and an hour or so later you could purchase the photo of yourself with the rabbit as a memento of your trip to Nova Scotia. I purchased mine. It showed a sad looking boy——I think that’s a boy—– with long hair reading a book of poetry as a motheaten rabbit bends over him.

    In Nova Scotia I drove the car east and north for a few days. When dusk came, I’d eat in a diner, and then I’d sleep either in the car or in a small tent that I had in the back. There were scattered patches of snow up there, even in May. I kept going north until…

    (click  here for the rest of the story.)

  • JFB.com Blog

    Join JFB and a table of celebrity guests at the GLAAD media awards!

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Hello there, you wonderful readers, you. How’d you like to have dinner with me, and 19 other friends–literary celebrities, Hollywood stars, trans activists, revered authors, and other dear friends of mine?

    Some of you know I serve on the Board of Directors at GLAAD, the PR group for the LGBT movement that leads the conversation on equality for our people.  We monitor media representation of LGBT people; when the coverage is wrong, we try to make it better.  When it’s good, we applaud a job well done.  One way we raise money for GLAAD is through the Media Awards Galas– these are like the gay Oscars.  It’s a fabulous evening, featuring cocktails, dinner, and the show itself.  There’s always great entertainment– last year it was Cirque du Soleil (the group that always makes me want to sing, “Cirque du Soleil for the San Tropez tan.”)

    There are surprises, celebrity guests,  and events planned for this years event in New York on March 16, which I can’t yet divulge, but they are truly amazing.

    What I can reveal at this time is a partial guest list of my table.  How about author Augusten Burroughs (RUNNING WITH SCISSORS),  activist and writers Kate Bornstein (GENDER OUTLAW) and Barbara Carellas (ECSTASY IS NECESSARY); New Yorker writer Andrew Solomon (FAR FROM THE TREE) and actor John Leguizamo (WONG FOO, ROMEO+JULIET, ICE AGE, etc.)

    How would you like to join me at that table and hang out with these gentle, lovely artists and performers?  Not to mention my wife Deedie and my son Zach?  And many other dear friends as well?

    Well, you could simply buy a ticket by clicking here. It’s a very, very expensive date, which I’m sorry about, except that hey! it’s a fundraiser, and this is how we keep the lights on.  It’s $500 a plate.  I am hosting two tables of ten people each. As of today, (Valentine’s Day), I have 5 free seats left.  I would be very grateful–and TOTALLY PSYCHED– if you would join me.

    When you follow that link, note that there’s a pulldown menu after the place where you enter in your info for “Choose table host.”  That’s where you’ll select me.  And afterwards, please email me at jb@jenniferboylan.net to let me know you’re on board.  As I said, there are only five seats left now, and I fear they will go swiftly.  But please join me!  I would love to meet you, and introduce you to these lovely, generous artists.

    The event is on Saturday March 16, at the Marriott Marquis hotel, in Times Square.  The red carpet starts around 5:30, and then cocktails are from 6-7. Dinner at 7;  and the show itself at 8.  Get your GLAAD on, and please come!

  • JFB.com Blog

    “We Can’t Call You Daddy if You’re Going to be a Girl.”

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Here’s this weeks blog post over at my new digs at Psychology Today.  This one’s about how my sons found a name for me, and how that moment finally helped me realize things were going to be all right.

    The JFB home page at PT provides links to all the blog posts, as well as containing some highly entertaining other material.

    “We Can’t Call You Daddy if You’re Going to be a Girl”
    Coming out as trans was hard.  Finding a name that my sons wanted to call me was harder.
    By 2002, transition was behind me. I’d been a boy, but now I was a woman. It had been a long journey, involving therapy, endocrinology, a minister, a social worker, and a trip to the large size shoe store. There were times when it seemed as if that journey–which more than anything else resembled a kind of emigration–was never going to end.

    I had plenty of friends in the transgender community who suggested that it never would end, in fact; one such well wisher even sent me, on the day of my surgery, a card that said, “Now the journey really begins!” I remember putting the card aside with a feeling of exhaustion. The last thing I wanted, after everything my family had been through, was another journey.

    And for the most part, that turned out to be true. As a couple, my wife and I went from a time in which we suddenly seemed, after twelve years together, like strangers, to a time in which once again we seemed familiar, if altered. I went back to work at the college and my students rolled with the changes. In time they were replaced by a new generation of students, young scholars who had never known me in the days Before.

    Whatever it was I’d imagined I’d become, before I changed genders, had finally been replaced by the reality–both difficult and joyful– of what being a woman in the culture was actually going to mean.

    There was one question though, that nagged at me, however, that woke me up in the middle of the night, and which caused me to lie there in the dark, unable to conjure an answer. What about the boys, a voice asked me. What about your two sons?

    Now, speaking from the vantage point of my fifties–and my sons’ late teens– I know that…. (for the rest of the blog click here).

  • JFB.com Blog

    New JFB blog at Psychology Today: Stuck in the Middle with You

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    I have a new blog over at Psychology Today, about mothers, fathers, trans experience, family, and the mutability and morphability of life.  I’d be very grateful if fans of my work would check it out, as views of the blog over at PT will be seen by its editors as a vote of confidence in me, in “mainstreaming” trans issues, and of course, in my writing.  The blog is also, naturally enough, shining a light on STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU, ramping up for publication from Crown/Random House this spring.

    I really hope you enjoy the blog, and will keep up with it.  I’m going to try to write something every week.

    UPDATE: January 22nd: the second blog in the series is here:

    STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU:

    PARENTHOOD IN THREE GENDERS

    by Jennifer Finney Boylan

    Psychology Today

    Late last summer, my wife and two sons climbed Mt. Katahdin in Maine. That trip was something of a swan song for the family we had been— less than a week later, our older boy Zach would depart for his freshman year at Vassar, and the rest of us, including 16-year-old Sean, would have to begin to learn what it was like to be a group of three.The morning was rainy, and as the sun came out, mist and fog rose all around the ridges of Hamlin Peak and theKnife Edge Trail.

    It wasn’t the first mountain our family had climbed, nor, for that matter was it the first time we’d all been through a mysterious set of changes.

    When I came out as transgender, my boys were six and four, back in 2000. For a while back then we weren’t as certain who we were anymore. The four of us, as familiar to one another as family members can be, suddenly found ourselves morphing into something new, something unrecognizable.

    For my sons, it had meant going from…(click here to read the rest of the piece on the Psychology Today site.)

  • JFB.com Blog

    First review for my new book!

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    First review for STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU: A memoir of parenting in three genders is out today, and it’s a rave.

    “This informal investigation and her touchingly funny and always candid story work together to reveal the book’s ultimate truth: that ‘to accept the wondrous scope of gender is to affirm the vast potential of life in all its messy, unfathomable beauty’… Boylan’s book is genuinely insightful through and through. A warm, engaging memoir.” – Kirkus Reviews.

    Kirkus is kind of an inside-publishing publication, but it’s influential and well-regarded.  I’ve had mixed success with them over the years– they really liked SHE’S NOT THERE, but weren’t wild about the FALCON QUINN series.  I’m grateful STUCK IN THE MIDDLE seemed to speak to them, and I’m hopeful, naturally, that this is a harbinger of other nice notices in the months ahead.

    Pub date is April 21, with physical books probably shipping a little earlier.  It’s going to be a wild spring!  Fasten your seat belts.

  • JFB.com Blog

    Announcing the December Project: Surviving the Holidays with the trans community

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    I wanted to announce what we’re calling THE DECEMBER PROJECT, a reachout by Dylan Scholinski, Mara Keisling, Jennifer Finney Boylan, and Helen Boyd to raise the spirits of people in the trans community during what can be a difficult time of year.

    We are trans activists, homebodies, authors, parents, spouses, artists, and teachers, including a trans man, two trans women, and a loving spouse.  Here’s our pledge to you: If you feel low this December, and need someone to talk to, contact us, and we’ll call you on the phone.  Period.

    We want to make clear that we are not therapists, and that anyone in a serious crisis should dial 911, or seek professional help from qualified folks in the helping professions.

    On the other hand we are people who may have experienced what you are feeling, and it is our hope that simply having someone to listen or talk to this December will have value.   This project is 100% free and no one involved in it is getting anything out of it other than the opportunity to help.

    Trans people– and the people that love them– face unique challenges during the holidays.  Too often we can find ourselves separated from families, from spouses and children and parents.  It’s a time of year that, as Dickens well noted, can be the most haunted of all, a time when we travel in time and feel all too keenly the distance between ourselves and others, when what we most desire is warmth, and community, and love.

    So think of us as friends you haven’t met yet.  Want to talk to somebody on the phone?  Here’s what to do: 1) send an email to Jenny Boylan at JB@jenniferboylan.net, and in the subject heading write, DECEMBER PROJECT.  List your name, your phone number, and the time when we can reach you–preferably with a few different choices.  Let us know which one of us you want to talk to.

    You can also contact people directly through Facebook– ask to “friend” Jennifer Finney Boylan and then make your request through the Direct Message page, and JFB will forward your request to the person you’ve asked for. (or if you’re friends with Mara, or Helen, or Dylan, you can contact them directly.)

    If we can’t reach you, or if the person you’ve requested isn’t available, we’ll let you know that too.  Also, if we get overwhelmed, we’ll also tell you that.

    So let us help.  And you don’t need to be in trouble to participate in the December Project.  If you want to celebrate all the good things in your life and share your sense of joy– we’re good with that too.

    Who we are:

    Helen Boyd is an author of 2 books, including MY HUSBAND BETTY, an account of life with a trans spouse.  She is a well regarded spokeswoman for trans people and the people that love them, especially spouses and partners.  She’s a Lecturer in Gender and Freshman Studies at Lawrence University in Wisconsin.

    Jennifer Finney Boylan, an author of 13 books including SHE’S NOT THERE: A LIFE IN TWO GENDERS.  An English teacher at Colby College in Maine, a trans woman, wife to Deirdre Boylan, and mother (or “Maddy”) to two fine young men, Zach and Sean.  Serves on the board of directors of GLAAD and on the board of trustees at the Kinsey Institute.

    Mara Keisling is founding executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality.  She is well known as a commentator on trans issues; she lives in Washington DC.

    Dylan Scholinski was born Daphne Scholinski. He currently lives in Boulder, CO with his beautiful wife and 4 year old son and is the Founder/Witness of Sent(a)Mental Studios as well as a distinguished artist, author and public speaker. His most recent book was The Last Time I Wore a Dress, listed by Out Magazine as one of its Top Ten Must Reads.

    We send everybody love, and hope that this month is a time of hope.

    Email for The December Project:

    jb@jenniferboylan.net

    FB: Jennifer Finney Boylan.

  • JFB.com Blog

    JFB video for I AM: Trans People Speak

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Here I am speaking about trans experience as part of GLAAD’s amazing new series: I AM: Trans People Speak.

  • JFB.com Blog

    Would you like Jenny Boylan to visit your bookstore, college, or local venue this spring?

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Hello, friends.  Random House is gearing up to send me out on the road in spring 2013 in support of my new book, STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU: Parenthood in Three Genders, as well as the 10th anniversary expanded edition of SHE’S NOT THERE. Pub date is April 23rd, and I’m likely to be travelling from coast to coast at that time, reading in bookstores, at colleges, doing TV and radio interviews, and visiting other venues to talk about motherhood, fatherhood, and diversity.

    If you’re interested in having me visit your town, let me know and I’ll pass it on to my rep at the Random House Speakers Bureau, Mr. Wade Lucas.  You can email me at jb@randomhouse.com (put SPEAKING GIG or something in the subject line).  Or you can contact Wade directly at walucas@randomhouse.com.

    More info on appearances can be found here.

    Thanks.  I’m looking forward to being stuck in the middle with YOU.

  • JFB.com Blog

    New Cover for Updated “She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders.” Plus, a sneak peak at the new preface!

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    The cover for the updated edition of SNoT seeks to echo the design of the original as well as to give a good hint of the new goodies inside.

    Many of you know that She’s Not There will be celebrating its 10th anniversary next spring.  In honor of the event, Random House is bringing out a new and revised edition of the book.  It will contain a new preface and a new afterword by JFB, bringing the story up to date.  It will also contain a new epilogue written by Deirdre Finney Boylan, better known to readers of SNoT as “Grace.”  She will write about the challenges she and Jenny faced, and the love that they share.

    The most common question Deedie and Jenny get is, “Are you still married?”  Not to spoil the new edition, or anything, but the answer is an emphatic yes.

    Here’s a quick look at the cover for the revised edition.  The goal was to retain the look of the original book while also drawing attention to all the new goodies inside.

    The new SHE’S NOT THERE goes on sale on April 23rd, concurrently with Jenny’s new book, STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU: A MEMOIR OF PARENTHOOD IN THREE GENDERS, about which there’s plenty more on this site.  Both books–along with the middle volume of the trilogy, I’M LOOKING THROUGH YOU, will be available both as actual books as well as ebooks via Kindle and iBooks.

    As Jeff Probst likes to ask on “Survivor,”  Worth playing for?  How about if I gave you a sneak peak at the new preface to the tenth anniversary edition, available by simply clicking right here?

  • JFB.com Blog

    Stuck in the Middle with You: Parenthood in Three Genders

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Coming in 2013 from Random House/Crown

    Stuck in the Middle with You: Parenthood in Three Genders

    A Memoir

    by Jennifer Finney Boylan

    Dear booksellers, readers, and friends:

    Publication date is still fairly far off for my new book– Mother’s Day, 2013– but as advance review copies are beginning to find their way out into the world, I thought I’d start trying to develop a little home for the book here at the JFB.net site.  So here’s a new wing for STUCK IN THE MIDDLE, containing a little advance material.  In weeks to come I’ll have a sample chapter or two up and running. In the meantime, click here to be taken to the new Stuck in the Middle wing of this site.

  • JFB.com Blog

    “A Freshman All Over Again” — JFB column in New York Times, August 23, 2012

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    This op/ed appeared Thursday, August 23rd.  I was substituting for Nicholas Kristof.

    A Freshman All Over Again

    by Jennifer Finney Boylan

    My son Zach and me, on Maine's Mt. Katahdin, the week before dropping him off at Vassar. Photo by my son Sean Boylan.

    Thirty-six years ago, my mother and father pulled up in front of a dormitory at Wesleyan University in a cream-colored Oldsmobile Omega. “At last!” my mother declared. “College!”

    From the back seat, I glowered at her. Then I looked out the window and glowered at the ivy. It was clear enough: I was going to die here.

    My father unlocked the trunk. It contained a suitcase, a stereo, a box of records by the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead, a leatherbound journal, a psychedelic poster of the cover of “The Fellowship of the Ring,” a copy of Coffin & Roelofs’s “Major Poets,” a three-legged milking stool and a bong shaped like one of the statues on Easter Island.

    It still wasn’t clear how I’d snuck past the dean of admissions. I’d been rejected for early decision, then deferred in the spring. When they finally let me off the wait list in July, it felt as if admissions had accepted me out of sheer exhaustion.

    We found my room, Butterfield A 132 B. There was a desk in one corner. My mother looked at it with tears in her eyes. “Right here,” she said, “is where all the magic is going to happen!”

    An elegant, feline man appeared in the door. He had a shaved head. “So I’m Bruce,” he said. He pronounced it Bruuuuuce. “Your R.A. There’s Heineken in the fridge. There’s pizza in the lounge. Welcome to college.”

    Later that day, I went into Bruce’s room to ask for his assistance with something and found him handing an ounce of pot to an older-looking person, who in turn gave my R.A. a wad of bills. Bruce introduced me to his guest, a member of the college administration.

    O.K., I thought. So this is different.

    I’m thinking about all of this now because in a week’s time my wife and I are dropping our firstborn son off at Vassar, where he will begin his freshman year (or “first-year experience,” as we are now supposed to call it).

    After nearly 25 years as a college professor, I am at last a participant in the ritual of the station wagons. Don DeLillo describes the annual unpacking in “White Noise”: “the controlled substances, the birth control pills and devices; the junk food still in shopping bags,” and the parents, standing “sun-dazed near their automobiles, seeing images of themselves in every direction.”

    Back in ’76, my parents and I had a dignified farewell on the lawn of Butterfield. My father, a reserved, diffident man, shook my hand. Then they walked away. I’d be home for Thanksgiving, and until then, I was Bruce’s problem. In some ways, that was the first and most important thing I learned at college — what life was like without them.

    It’s different now. At Colby College, where I teach English, I see my students talking to their parents on cellphones — some of them three and four times a day. Occasionally, when things aren’t going well, a parent will Skype me. (“What can Charlie do to improve his grades?” one anxious parent asked me. “Fewer drugs,” I suggested.) Parents and children follow one another’s progress on Facebook. They post photos of the campus lobster bake on Instagram. They tweet. They text. They Tumbl.

    There are times when I want to tell my students that if they want to learn anything at college, their first step should be defriending their parents. Write them a nice letter, on actual paper, once every week or so, but on the whole: let go. Stop living in their shadows, and start casting your own.

    But now I know exactly how impossible this is. Before I became a college parent, it was easy to come up with rules of disengagement for my students’ mothers and fathers. Now that I am one myself, I finally know what it is parents are going through — not just letting go of a child but of an entire chapter of their lives.

    Late in the day so many years ago, long after I thought my parents had headed back to Devon, Pa., I went for a walk. I wandered around the brownstones for a while, stared up at the facade of Olin Library. I realized I was a long way from home.

    That was when I caught sight of my parents, coming back from the president’s reception. When I saw them approaching, my first thought was, Oh, no. Not another farewell.

    They just smiled and wrapped their arms around me. I did not want them to go. I was not ready to begin this new life, in this new place, without them.

    My father kissed me on the cheek. “You’ll be fine,” he said.

    Jennifer Finney Boylan, a professor of English at Colby College, is a guest columnist. Nicholas D. Kristof is off today.

  • JFB.com Blog

    JFB Column in NYT: “Weather Vain.”

    - by Jennifer Boylan
    This column appeared on the op/ed page of the New York Times on Sunday, August 12, 2012.  I was substituting for Thomas Freidman.
    OP-ED COLUMNIST

    Weather Vain

    By JENNIFER FINNEY BOYLAN
    Published: August 11, 2012 49 Comments
    • Belgrade Lakes, Me.

    Jennifer Finney Boylan

    Previous Columns

    LAST March, just before the melt set in, I got the Call. It was a little late in the season for it, but I wasn’t all that surprised, given the blizzard we’d just endured. If you live in Maine long enough, you’re used to getting the Call from a flatlander, usually on the morning after some serious weather.

    “Hey, we’ve got the flowers out down here,” said my friend. “We’re drinking lemonade.”

    “Well, that sounds nice,” I said.

    “How long before you get your screens in?” she asked. “How long before you’re drinking lemonade?”

    It would be months, of course. The average yearly snowfall in my part of central Maine is 71 inches, which, just for perspective, is around five inches more snow than Ross Perot is tall.

    In Maine, June comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. And July showers bring August flowers.

    I didn’t always live like this. When I was young… (click here to read the rest).