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“You guys look different too..” From the Main Line Times: JFB goes home again.

“You guys look different too..” From the Main Line Times: JFB goes home again.
January 9, 2011 Jennifer Boylan

A piece from the suburban Philadelphia paper on my return to my old high school in December.  Very nicely done.


By Cheryl Allison

You guys look different, too,” a speaker at the Haverford School told teachers and classmates in the audience, to break the ice.

Admittedly, though, Jenny Boylan, Class of ’76, has gone through a transformation well beyond aging.

Boylan, who attended the private all-boys school from eighth grade through graduation, did so as James Boylan. A professor of creative writing and American literature at Colby College in Maine since 1988, she is also a transgender woman, who made the physical transition in her early 40s.

Her first return to Haverford in more than three decades last Friday morning to talk with the school’s Diversity Alliance and speak to the Upper School coincidentally comes as Lower Merion Township and several other local municipalities, including Radnor and Haverford townships, are considering adopting anti-discrimination ordinances.

Lower Merion, the first of the group, was set to hold a public hearing and vote Dec. 8 on its ordinance, which would prohibit discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

After three versions, the legislation, whose drafting has had the unanimous support of Lower Merion’s board of commissioners, was expected to be enacted.

Boylan, whose 2003 memoir “She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders” was a national bestseller, is a Valley Forge native who grew up in Newtown Square and Devon. Realizing that your gender is not the same as that of the body you have been born into “is hard. It’s not something I would wish on anyone,” she told students. But Boylan, who was not open about her situation then, added, “One of the things that made it less hard was this place,” in the friends she made and in the teachers who encouraged a love of literature and writing.

Boylan said she wanted to…(click here for the rest of the story)


  1. Margie 7 years ago

    Just a wonderful article. Jenny is surely someone to look up to!

  2. Hangar Queen 7 years ago

    Absolutely. Especially when she wears heels ‘cos then………Oh bugger…I’ve done it again.

    I’ll get me coat.

  3. Jason 7 years ago

    Man was it super hot here today!

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