For appearances (related to GOOD BOY, dogs & gender): Christine Mykithyshyn at Macmillan Publicity:)

For appearances (related to She’s Not There, Long Black Veil, She’s Not There, I’m Looking Through You,  Stuck in the Middle With You, Long Black Veil, and/or other gender, human rights & education issues:)
Kathryn Santora at Penguin Random House:

For press inquires:
Kris Dahl at ICM

To contact Jenny directly:


  • Blog

    At the Battery, july 30, 2009

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    All misty eyed at the statue of liberty. And to the right, Ellis island, where mom came through. What did she think America would be, when she first saw it?

  • Blog

    “Love” launch party at Housingworks…

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    The launch party for Love is a Four Letter Word at Housingworks ROCKED. With Dan Kennedy hosting, tantalyzing story excerpts from Wendy McClure, Said Sayrafiezadeh, Maud Newton, and Amanda Stern. Plus saw friend and NYer cartoonist Emily Flake,collection editor Michael Taeckens, and Galleycat’s Ron Hogan, and all the proceeds go to AIDS research & support. 2 photos here: below, the crowd crush, above, me w/Ron Hogan. Thanks to readers and friends who came out.

    The bar’s been set high for the reading tomorrow! Come on up to the 82nd St. Barnes & Noble and see if I crack from the pressure! Can’t wait!

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    Reminder: JB at 2 events in NYC this week!

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Calling all cars… calling all cars… be on the lookout for Jenny Boylan, in the Borough of Manhattan, Wed. and Thurs. nights this week; at the Housingworks Bookstore Cafe for a launch party 7/29 and a READING at the 82nd Street and Broadway Barnes and noble on 7/30. Both events in support of anthology LOVE IS A FOUR LETTER WORD.  Complete details on “Appearances” page.

  • Blog

    Love is a Four Letter Word in today’s Daily Beast

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    From the Daily Beast:

    In Love is a Four Letter Word, an irresistible new breakup anthology, 23 writers including Junot Diaz and Jennifer Finney Boylan depict romantic heartache and headache in full-frontal nakedness.

    It can come during one of those loud late-night phone calls fueled by booze and bile that leave no insult unspoken. Or it can come in an eerie, quiet apartment with extra underwear and a toothbrush tossed into a shopping bag before walking out and shutting the door one final time. Breakups come in all volumes, degrees of severity, differing locales. But the darn things still hurt like hell, maybe not forever as it first seems, but plenty at the outset and long after that. The end of a romantic dream is a kind of death, its passing seldom marked with a funeral, just ongoing waves of regret or sometimes relief, plus countless instant replays of scenes that should have gone differently, words said or unsaid, along with vows to never make that mistake again and be such a fool for love.

    Read it all at the Daily Beast’s Book Beast page, here.

  • Blog

    First look at the cover for FALCON QUINN and the BLACK MIRROR

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    FalconQuinn_FinalOkay, so check out the cover of FALCON QUINN and the BLACK MIRROR, coming from HarperCollins in summer of 2010. (Amazing to me what a long lead time there is in Young Adult Books.).  Anyway, this is by legendary illustrator Brandon Dorman, who’s done a ton of great work– most famously, perhaps, for the GOOSEBUMPS series.  I think he captured the feeling of the book pretty nicely– no small thing since it combines elements of humor and horror.  It IS about castles and monsters– and, most pointedly, about the search for identity. (And if you’re thinking, well, guess who’s favorite subject, then you are exactly correct.). But it’s also a comedy, in lots of places, and preserving the right balance between the serious and the comic is no small thing, as i have found out not only in my writing, but in my life as well.

    This is the first, and most most important of the work Brandon’s doing, but there will be four or five black and white illustrations; I’ll put those up as they come in too.   In the meantime, hope you dig this.  Note the black “frames” in the upper left and right corners.  The next book, which will be Falcon Quinn and the Something Something (in which the first something will also be a color), will have that color frame in those corners.  Clever.

    As one of the characters– Max, the Sasquatch–likes to say, “HEY EVERYBODY!  MONSTER OUT!”

  • Blog

    Walter Cronkite: Speechless

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    In the wake of Walter Cronkite’s death, there’s been a lot of thoughtful commentary about the way “Grampa” channeled history for us– at least for those of us of a certain age. I’m 51, so the CBS Evening News was a constant throughout my childhood. I remember Cronkite announcing the deaths of RFK, and MLK, and the constant college unrest. I once told my parents, about 1970, that I didn’t want to go to college since clearly “going to college” meant burning down buildings.

    And the space program, of course, which I was a huge fan of; Cronkite spoke of the way that, in spite of how much of the 60s made us downcast, that the mercury and gemini and apollo programs made us “upcast:” that each of us cast our eyes upward to the moon, and how that gave us hope.

    But there’s also the memories of listening to Walter when nothin’ special was going on. That’s what I miss, and have missed, over the years– having, as they say on LOST, “a constant.” You’d think I’d be the last person in the world to lament the way so many things change, but it’s hard losing our constants, as if the stars themselves began to wander unpredictably across the sky.

    By 1979 I was a senior at Wesleyan, and the hostage crisis in Iran dominated the news. I was the editor of the college newspaper, and lived in a co-ed frat, a huge old brick building with giant white columns. After dinner each night, i’d go into a small study, and there watch the CBS news. Walter was getting old by then, but even there, far from home, struggling with gender, afraid each day i was going to mess up at college, mess up with my life, I’d sit and watch.

    And more often than not, i’d fall asleep in front of the TV, just as my father used to do during the endless reports of casualties and loss in Vietnam.

    That frat was occupied by the first wave of punk rockers, some of whom were my friends, and they always wanted to watch Wheel of Fortune–or something– instead of the news. Since i was so self-important, I always prevailed. Until i fell asleep. Then, at the end of the news, I’d wake up, and look around.

    Surrounding me on all sides were punkers in leather, with studs and mohawks. Watching Wheel of Fortune. Each night, they waited for me to fall asleep, and then they’d change the channel.

    This has got to be one of the oddest Cronkite memories (my German mother always liked to remind us that ‘cronkheit’ means ‘sickness.’) But it’s the one I have that feels closest to my heart.

    When Armstrong first stepped onto the moon, the amazing thing is that Cronkheit, after all those years, lost the ability to speak. He just sat there shaking his head, amazed. I’ve had that feeling, now and again, during my life, when miracles have occured– and sometimes when nothing was happening at all, except life rolling along. A lot of those times, Cronkheit was there.

    Thanks, Grampa. I’ll miss you.

  • Blog

    “Isn’t it Outrageous?” by Tim Kreider

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Grivances533My friend Tim Kreider has posted up his most recent column for the New York Times’ blog series, “Happy Days.”

    This one’s called “Isn’t It Outrageous?” and it’s about the dark little secret– that we actually like, sometimes, the sense of being enraged.

    Isn’t It Outrageous?” by Timothy Kreider

    Originally published New York Times, July 14, 2009

    I was a political cartoonist and essayist for the duration of the Bush presidency, so I was professionally furious every week for eight years. The pejorative “Bush-hater” always rankled me – presuming that my rightful outrage at that administration’s abuses was as arbitrary and irrational as misogyny or arachnophobia. And yet, looking back at my work from those years, even I am struck by its tone of shrill, unrelieved rancor. No wonder readers who met me in real life seemed surprised to learn that I was personable and polite; they must’ve been expecting someone more like Ted Kaczynski or the guy from “Notes from Underground.” Reading over my own impassioned rants now, my main reaction is: Jeez Louise, what a sorehead.

    A couple of years ago, while meditating, I learned something kind of embarrassing: anger feels good. Although we may consciously experience it as upsetting, somatically it feels a lot like the first rush of an opiate — a tingling warmth on the insides of your elbows and wrists, in the back of your knees. Realizing that anger was a physical pleasure explained some of the perverse obstinancy with which my mind kept returning to it despite the fact that, intellectually, I knew it was pointless self-torture.

    Once I realized I enjoyed anger, I noticed how much time I spent experiencing it. If you’re anything like me, you spend about 87 percent of your mental life winning imaginary arguments that are never actually going to take place. It seems like most of the fragments of conversation you overhear in public consist of rehearsals for, or reenactments of, just such speeches: shrill litanies of injury and injustice, affronts to common sense and basic human decency too grotesque to be borne. You don’t even have to bother eavesdropping; just listen for that high, whining tone of incredulous aggrievement. It sounds like we’re all telling ourselves the same story over and over: How They Tried to Crush My Spirit (sometimes with the happy denouement: But I Showed Them!)

    Outrage is like a lot of other things that feel good but over time devour us from the inside out. And it’s even more insidious than most vices because…

    (the rest of the column at the jump, here)


  • Blog

    The Black Sheep’s Guide to Grace

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    IMG_0086 July 17, 2009

    When I was twenty I climbed onto the roof of an abandoned building with two friends on an October day and a few moments later we were surrounded by thousands of starlings, all migrating to the South.  We had not expected to find birds in flight when we climbed on to that roof—I don’t know what we expected to find—but having reached this stunning spectacle, the three of us lay on our backs and watched the sky undulate with motion and life.

    I would not have used this word then but now I would describe the state we found ourselves in as a state of grace.

    Grace is an elusive concept, but we all know what it is.  It’s a sense of things fitting, of being, as T.S. Eliot wrote, at the “still point of the turning world.”

    A young writer named Michael Byers has a story entitled “The Beautiful Days” in which he describes a young man, not so much older than I was when I climbed on that roof with my friends, who finds that “when he least expected it , he would be visited with a new gust of this unnamable generosity of spirit, when the world seemed nearly platonic in its perfection…  The sensation that he was one among many—and yet still one, an individual being set loose on the planet—and that so much beauty abounded, on all sides, in every form, for him to encounter—all this combined to lift his heart above the ordinary, and made him, when it came, inexpressibly joyful.”

    I have felt this sense of grace now and again in my life. I think looking for this sensation is one of the things that keeps me going.  I felt it when I heard the newborn cry of my children.  I felt it when I saw Deedie coming down the aisle of the church in her mother’s wedding dress. I felt it in a pub named An Spailpeen Fanach in Cork, Ireland one night when I heard a young woman singing a song of famine and emigration in Gaelic, and everyone in the place softly sang the words along with her.  I felt it one night when Deedie made Chinese shrimp with black pepper that was so spicy tears rolled out of my eyes.

    For most people, the forms of grace in life do not collide, or live in conflict with each other.

    For trans people–and various other “outcasts”, for lack of a better word–there is a lifelong lament that  the things that make us feel at peace in the world are the very things that make the world feel at odds with us.

    How we make sense of this ridiculous and heartbreaking predicament tells the story of our lives, or part of it anyway.  We feel rage at a universe which seems to reveal–every once in a while—that elusive sense of grace, and yet makes that glimpse so elusive and so difficult to achieve that we wonder if we’d been better off not even knowing about it. .

    I’ve never met an “outcast” who wasn’t spiritual, in some way.   For me, the face of God has always appeared in the faces of other people—in Deedie’s face while she’s sleeping, in the faces of my children as they read a book, in the face of my mother as she looks at the orchids she once raised with my father, now gone these last twenty-plus years.

    On New Year’s Eve, 2000, I stood by the banks of Great Pond, in Maine. Some friends were having a New Year’s Eve party to celebrate the millenium, and our local fire company was setting off fireworks.  (Since this is a small town, the fireworks went off at 9 PM so the firemen could still get home to their families in time for midnight.)

    The fireworks display was laughable and small.  Most of the adults who had gathered by the frozen lake to watch them went inside after a moment or two, totally unimpressed.

    My son Zach, however, five years old, stood by the edge of the ice, amazed.  I went and held his hand, and for that moment I saw the fireworks as he did—not as some small town event, laughable in its cheesiness, but as the most miraculous even in the universe.  I picked him up and I held him up in the freezing winter air.  We watched the fireworks above the lake turn the night sky green and blue and orange.

    Then he turned to me and smiled.  Zach’s breath gathered in steam clouds.  His face radiated light, just as his mother’s had on the day we were married, just as the sun would the next morning, as it rose on a new century.

    “I want it to go on forever,” he said.

  • Blog

    Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Then We Came to the End Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris

    Richard Russo sent me to this fine novel. I’m essentially on the Rick Russo book club right now, having read THE GOOD THIEF at his urging just before this one. Enjoying Ferris’ high-wire act in this book a great deal, especially the wild 1st person plural narration.

    The book captures the reality of working in an office, and if that sounds too tedious to be the heart of a novel, then you underestimate Ferris’ imagination and invention.  I worked in big office towers in Manhattan throughout much of my 20s, and the drama and intrigue–and trauma– of a working life is surely worthy of fiction.  We spend so much of our lives at work– it’s curious that most of our fiction takes place in our “other” lives; but then perhaps this is no surprise, given the fact that its only in those other lives that we feel our “real” stories take place.  Still,  does this means that the majority of our working lives are devoid of mythology?  Hell no.  And Ferris’ wild, heartbreaking book captures that reality nicely.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to head down to the fifty-first floor–where most of the cubicles are empty– for a cry and a smoke…

    View all my reviews >>

  • Blog

    Your 2012 Transgender All-Stars!

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Your 2011 Transgender All-Stars will play the Wingnuts in the summer classic tonight.  Some familiar fan favorites, and some newcomers in this year’s roster.  Also:  Susan “Wild Thing” Stanton, formerly catcher, appears to have sent down to the minors.

    boyd 1. Helen Boyd

    After a trade from the Brooklyn Feminists to the Wisconsin Scholars, the leadoff hitter for this years Transgender All Star game is known for throwing the curve.

    schrorrer 2.  Diane Schroer

    Recently traded from the Library of Congress AAA team, the Colonel in the two-hole should be well poised to move Boyd into scoring position.

    MaraKeisling 3. Mara Kiesling

    Leading the league in earned runs, the big left hander is not renowned for speed.  In recent years she has had the extra burden of carrying a small dog, “Puffington” as she rounds the bases.

    rose 4. Donna Rose

    Donna “The Refrigerator” Rose has occupied the cleanup spot since becoming a free agent in 2006.  The controversy surrounding her decision not to renew her contract with the Washington Humans has made her a crowd favorite.

    St-Pierre 5. Ethan St. Pierre (“E-Saint”)

    Renowned for his RBIs,  St. Pierre has a history of sacrifices.  Often he can be seen swinging with a microphone instead of a bat.

    JamisonGreen 6. Jamieson Green (a.k.a. “The Big Unit”)

    The sixty-four year old from Oakland is known for his ability to stay in the game.

    KateBornstein-header-9-25-08 7. Kate Bornstein (“That’s just Bornstein being Bornstein!”)

    The Outlaw was recently removed from the Disabled List and is well known for her offensive skills.

    chaz-bono-sex-change-underway 8. Chaz Bono

    New to the All-Star lineup this year,  Bono will lead the pre-game Tabloid Derby.  A power hitter, Bono may be intentionally walked if the count is high in hopes of getting a strikeout from Calpernia Addams.


    9.Calpernia Adams

    Calpernia usually bunts.  Her running ability is exceptional, considering that she slides in heels.

    Ladies and gentlmen—your 2009 Transgender All Stars!

  • Blog

    What’s JB reading? The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    The best book I’ve read in a long time is Hannah Tinti’s The Good Thief.  It reminds me of the Dickensian orphan-waif genre, except told with such astonishing wit that it emerges as something entirely unique.  The story starts off in an orphanage, with all the boys praying to be adopted by some of the rarely-appearing adults.  Our hero, Ren, however seems an unlikely candidate.  Because he only has one hand.

    And yet, one day, a stranger appears, declares Ren his long-lost brother, and the two of them ride off into the early nineteenth century night of New Hampshire.  The man turns to Ren, early in the ride and tells him what he already suspects:  “I’m not your brother.”   The gruesome question thus becomes: what does he want the child for?

    The clear answer:  Nothing good.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve so wholly fallen into the conjured world of a novel.  I did so with this book.  And felt bereaved when it was over.   What a fine book.

  • Blog

    JB story in ‘The Women I Dated When I Was a Man.’

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    This piece is an extract from the longer work, “TRANS”, which appears in the new anthology, LOVE IS A FOUR LETTER WORD: TRUE STORIES OF BREAKUPS, BAD RELATIONSHIPS, AND BROKEN HEARTS. This is part of the piece I’ll be reading at two different events in New York at the end of July. For more info on those events, visit the “appearances” page.

    July 2, 2009 | With Maeve it ended with a big fight. This was back when I was still a man. “I never know what you’re thinking,” she said. We were at a bar in Baltimore, eating potato skins. “I mean, jeez. Who are you, anyway, when you’re out of my sight?”

    I waved my fingers in front of her eyes. “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for,” I said.

    Maeve was in my fiction workshop at Johns Hopkins. It was becoming clear to me that she was a realist, not only in her writing, which was fine, but in her life as well, which was where the trouble came in.

    I finished my pint. “Why can’t the truth be about this, instead?”

    “About what?”

    “About making each other laugh. Telling stories. Singing songs. The blarney. That’s so wrong?”She was looking around the bar, as if she’d already decided it wasn’t too soon to start shopping around for another boyfriend. “You know, Obi-Wan,” she said. “Sometimes you’re a real jerk.”

    “Obi-wan?” I said, thoughtfully. “Now that’s a name i haven’t heard for a long, long time..”

    (read the rest of the piece here.)

  • Blog

    Love is a Four Letter Word

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    True Stories of Breakups, Bad Relationships, and Broken Hearts…  Coming in July

    The anthology contains a new JB story, “Trans,” also excerpted any day now in And check out the Launch Party and reading in New York this July on the appearances page.  This heartbreaking flash animation, by the way, is by the amazing Emily Flake, whose work is also included in the collection, and with whom I have, on at least one occasion, consumed Irish whiskey.

  • Blog

    greetings and welcome

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    My dear Bagginses and Boffins, Tooks and Brandybucks, Grubbs, Chubbs, Hornblowers, Bolgers, Bracegirdles and Proudfoots! 

    Welcome to this new and improved blog and website for Jenny Boylan.  This site essentially merges the old blog and message boards site with my blogspot blog.  It’s my hope that this site will enable people to find me more easily, as well as allowing me to find them.  The site was designed by Betty Crow, from MHB fame, to whom I am eternally grateful.  This site also enables me to have more control over what goes up online; for the most part I can post my own blogs and photos and other news without having to constantly nag Betty to do it for me.  

    You’ll note across the top of the page links to all of the material previously available on  And this home page sends you straight to my own primary blog, of more ephemeral observations.  But all the primary material is still here: a list of upcoming appearances; photos and videos;  reviews and interviews connected with my writing.  

    We retire the message board with this new site, which I regret doing in a way, since so many kind friendships were formed there.  I”ll encourage members of that community to check out the other good sites online, including and

    Anyhow, welccome.  Hope you like what we’ve done here. We’ll probably continue to work out some of the bugs throughout the summer.  And links to the new site will be coming by summers end as well, I hope.  Stay tuned!

  • Blog

    Now what?

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    What can I tell ya. I LIKE Tobasco.

    Be that as it may: what next?

    Grades filed, commencement done, boys guided through the Memorial Day parade, fiddle lesson, homework, and heaven knows what else.

    Now? Well now, my friend, Professor Boylan spends some serious time chillin’.

    Chillin, in my case meaning, writing as constantly as possible on Falcon Quinn Book 2, which I hope to have a rough draft of by summers’ end. Book one will return to me in galleys and pages etc throughout the summer on its way to hardcover in 2010.

    I’m also maybe writing a screenplay for my old friend Peter.

    In the meantime, we’ll be heading out to the lake place in a week or two, after Deedie/Grace returns from a week at my mom’s house (watching the Devon Horse Show). Today I put Rustoleum on the outdoor furniture. In days ahead I hope to get our boat in the water, and then, oh please oh please, maybe I will just float around and catch some fish.

    This summer looks to have our boys off at camp for quite a bit– Zach is building a kayak and then sailing it, at the Chewonki Foundation in July, and Seanie is doing soccer camp, followed by French Horn camp, which we have promised to call “music camp” because “band camp” sounds bad. Anyhow, there’s that.

    Mostly I want to come to rest a little bit. Being me, “coming to rest” will mean writing a lot, two author appearances–the next of which is the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, coming up on June 10. But there will be time for the Red-Sox Yankees game the following night, and lots of floating around on the boat. Drinking mojiotos. And yeah: tobasco.

  • Blog
  • Blog

    May 17: Outwit, Outlast, Outplay.

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Jenny B., left, at Umass, delivering a short speech after receiving the “Continuing Stonewall’s Legacy” award. Note the bright red academic robes, plus the small Aladdin’s Lamp (a gift from Mom Boylan) on the dias. The wish is granted!

    Well, here we are, back from Northampton and Amherst, grades lodged, hanging out on a summer night waiting for the Survivor finale. Somewhere I will write about the LOST finale of Thursday (although what is there, ever, to say about LOST except, Whoa, you’re blowin’ my mind, dude!).

    The ceremony at Umass was truly lovely, and it was wonderful to see the graduates and the guests, some of which included some of our own JB.netters. I was taken by my hosts for a lovely dinner on Friday, which included pomegranite martinis and squid and gumbo and popovers and Belgian ale. Debuted the story “Trans” at the Pride n Joy bookstore in Northampton next day, including a few more old friends in the audience, and then screamed on home to Maine, where I have now come to rest for 2009 and am starting to look forward to summer.

    I DO have a couple of events scheduled for this summer, atypically for me, but I’ll be doing some readings for the anthologies I”m in– the next of which is at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, on June 9. But between here and there is mostly getting the boat in the water and writing Falcon Quinn II and starting the new grown-ups novel and CHILLIN.

    I’ve been thinking a little bit about the thing I do: tell stories, and tell them usually from the first person as a transwoman. There are other people who write in the trans community– Susan Stryker and Julie Serrano and Helen Boyd being three– who might be better considered activists, or at the very least theoreticians. I have always been more concerned with Story than with Theory. And the Stories that I know are the ones that have happened to me. So what I tend to write about is my own life, and that of my family. This might make people think I’m narcissistic, or self-centered or something, but truly, my desire is not to talk endlessly about myself; my desire is to tell stories, since that is the only language I know, and my own stories are the only ones I feel confident about telling.

    You’re damned if you do, or don’t, though: if you only write about yourself, people think you’re self-centered; if you try to speak for others, well people rightly say, You don’t speak for me.

    Anyway, I have reached a resting point on this spring evening and will look forward to continuing to appear now and again to talk and to tell stories. And when I do, I hope I”ll run into some of you there. IN the meantime, sending everybody love.

    Jenny B.

  • Blog

    JB op/ed in New York Times, 5/11/09

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    “Is My Marriage Gay?”
    © 2009 Jennifer Finney Boylan

    Op/Ed, New York Times, May 12, 2009

    Belgrade Lakes, Me.

    AS many Americans know, last week Gov. John Baldacci of Maine signed a law that made this state the fifth in the nation to legalize gay marriage. It’s worth pointing out, however, that there were some legal same-sex marriages in Maine already, just as there probably are in all 50 states. These are marriages in which at least one member of the couple has changed genders since the wedding.

    I’m in such a marriage myself and, quite frankly, my spouse and I forget most of the time that there is anything particularly unique about our family, even if we are — what is the phrase? — “differently married.”

    Deirdre Finney and I were wed in 1988 at the National Cathedral in Washington. In 2000, I started the long and complex process of changing from male to female. Deedie stood by me, deciding that her life was better with me than without me. Maybe she was crazy for doing so; lots of people have generously offered her this unsolicited opinion over the years. But what she would tell you, were you to ask, is that the things that she loved in me have mostly remained the same, and that our marriage, in the end, is about a lot more than what genders we are, or were.

    Deirdre is far from the only spouse to find herself in this situation; each week we hear from wives and husbands going through similar experiences together. Reliable statistics on transgendered people always prove elusive, but just judging from my e-mail, it seems as if there are a whole lot more transsexuals — and people who love them — in New England than say, Republicans. Or Yankees fans.

    I’ve been legally female since 2002, although the definition of what makes someone “legally” male or female is part of what makes this issue so unwieldy. How do we define legal gender? By chromosomes? By genitalia? By spirit? By whether one asks directions when lost?

    We accept as a basic truth the idea that everyone has the right to marry somebody. Just as fundamental is the belief that no couple should be divorced against their will.

    For our part, Deirdre and I remain legally married, even though we’re both legally female. If we had divorced last month, before Governor Baldacci’s signature, I would have been allowed on the following day to marry a man only. There are states, however, that do not recognize sex changes. If I were to attempt to remarry in Ohio, for instance, I would be allowed to wed a woman only.

    Gender involves a lot of gray area. And efforts to legislate a binary truth upon the wide spectrum of gender have proven only how elusive sexual identity can be. The case of J’noel Gardiner, in Kansas, provides a telling example. Ms. Gardiner, a postoperative transsexual woman, married her husband, Marshall Gardiner, in 1998. When he died in 1999, she was denied her half of his $2.5 million estate by the Kansas Supreme Court on the ground that her marriage was invalid. Thus in Kansas, any transgendered person who is anatomically female is now allowed to marry only another woman.

    Similar rulings have left couples in similar situations in Florida, Ohio and Texas. A 1999 ruling in San Antonio, in Littleton v. Prange, determined that marriage could be only between people with different chromosomes. The result, of course, was that lesbian couples in that jurisdiction were then allowed to wed as long as one member of the couple had a Y chromosome, which is the case with both transgendered male-to-females and people born with conditions like androgen insensitivity syndrome. This ruling made Texas, paradoxically, one of the first states in which gay marriage was legal.

    A lawyer for the transgendered plaintiff in the Littleton case noted the absurdity of the country’s gender laws as they pertain to marriage: “Taking this situation to its logical conclusion, Mrs. Littleton, while in San Antonio, Tex., is a male and has a void marriage; as she travels to Houston, Tex., and enters federal property, she is female and a widow; upon traveling to Kentucky she is female and a widow; but, upon entering Ohio, she is once again male and prohibited from marriage; entering Connecticut, she is again female and may marry; if her travel takes her north to Vermont, she is male and may marry a female; if instead she travels south to New Jersey, she may marry a male.”

    Legal scholars can (and have) devoted themselves to the ultimately frustrating task of defining “male” and “female” as entities fixed and unmoving. A better use of their time, however, might be to focus on accepting the elusiveness of gender — and to celebrate it. Whether a marriage like mine is a same-sex marriage or some other kind is hardly the point. What matters is that my spouse and I love each other, and that our legal union has been a good thing — for us, for our children and for our community.

    It’s my hope that people who are reluctant to embrace same-sex marriage will see that it has been with us, albeit in this one unusual circumstance, for years. Can we have a future in which we are more concerned with the love a family has than with the sometimes unanswerable questions of gender and identity? As of last week, it no longer seems so unthinkable. As we say in Maine, you can get there from here.

    Jennifer Finney Boylan is a professor of English at Colby College and the author of the memoir “I’m Looking Through You: Growing Up Haunted.”

  • Blog

    I love you, Mom.

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Here’s a picture of my mom, with her family (taken at Christmas, 07, i think, and wow, have the boys grown since then.) My mom, who, upon learning about me, said, “I would never turn my back upon my child. I will always love you. Love will prevail.” My mom, who said, “It is impossible to hate anyone whose story you know.” My mom, who said, “Jenny, you’d look so much better if you just lost five pounds.” Mom, whom I love. Happy Day, Mom. I love you!

  • Blog

    Stonewall, Monsters, Boats, Lobsters.

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    What next for that Jenny Boylan?

    Well, this coming Friday I’m receiving some kind of award at U Mass Amherst, something called “Continuing Stonewall’s Legacy”. I’ll be giving a short talk as part of that– this is for a pre-graduation celebration for the GLBT students there.

    Next day, May 16th, I’m giving a reading at Pride and Joy bookstore in Northampton, at noon.

    Then it’s home to Maine, and summer. I’m back at work on Falcon Quinn, book 2. And shepherding my family through the final weeks of grades 7 and 9, respectively. And getting ready to put the boat in the water. And thinking about moving into the summer house. And contemplating a dinner of fresh lobster, and fiddleheads, and cold white wine, on the porch.

    Next public performance after that’s at the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square, Cambridge (Our Fair City), on June 9.

    Looks like there’ll be another op/ed from me in the bloody New York Times this week, too, so, as Bettie Davis used to say, “Fasten your seat belts, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!” Actually, this ride will be smooth. I am feeling satisfied and happy with the writing, the teaching, the family, you know: the world. “O Earth, you’re just too beautiful for anyone to realize you.” That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.