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

    JB piece in NYT: “Maddy Might Just Work”

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    My story in the New York Times is up and online. The title they gave it is either, “Maddy Just Might Work,” or “The Other Side of My Boyhood.” The actual title is “The Sleepwalker.” More on this piece is in the post directly below.

    In the meantime, here’s the beginning of the story as it appears in the “modern love” column, and a jump to follow if you want to read the whole darn thing:

    “Maddy Might Just Work”
    © Jennifer Finney Boylan
    published April 26, 2009

    IN the last year of my father’s life, he started to sleepwalk. I was 27, and back in my parents’ house to help with his care. In the middle of the night I’d hear his heavy footsteps coming up to the third floor, where I lived in a room locked with a deadbolt. He’d creep through the hallway and open the door to the spare room, diagonally across the hall from mine, and lie down on the guest bed.

    After a while he’d start to snore, and I’d know he was O.K., at least until morning, when he’d wake up, confused and angry. “Where am I? What am I doing here?”

    He didn’t know I was transsexual, or if he did, he never said anything about it. I doubt he even knew the words “transsexual,” or “transgender,” and almost surely could not have explained the difference between the two. But that’s O.K. For a long time I couldn’t figure it all out, either.

    Once, though, when I was in high school…(to read on, click here)

  • Blog

    “The Book of Dads”: & JB in NYT this Sunday, 4/26

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    An excerpt of mine from the forthcoming anthology, “The Book of Dads” appears in this Sunday’s New York Times. The Styles section runs a weekly column called “Modern Love,” and this week they’re running “The Sleepwalker,” which is about fathers, sons, daughters, and how being trans affects our families.

    It’s not the first time a trans person’s life has been recorded in the column, but it’s one of the first, and it’s always good, I hope, to get work out there showing the complexity–and normality–of our lives. I’ve been especially interested in the relationships between transwomen and their fathers for the last few years–I’M LOOKING THROUGH YOU is, in large measure, about my relationship with my dad. Anyway, look for the story this Sunday. It had to be cut by more than half to fit into the space the Times has for the column, but I imagine you’ll get the gist.

    I’ll also put in a good word for the anthology here. The book was edited by Ben George, and is full of interesting work by writers–all men, except for me–you’ll either be familiar with, or will want to be. It’s a collection of essays “on the joys, perils and humiliations of fatherhood.” I think it’d be a good gift for fathers day, and if you’re a trans person, or anyone struggling with difference, the wide range of experiences in the book–and, yeah, sure, the Boylan essay–might do well to send out a little bridge between your experience, and that of your own father’s.

    I’ll be reading from the Book of Dads, along with several other of the authors from the anthology, at the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square on June 9th. If you’re in the Boston area, I hope you’ll come check it out.


  • Blog

    Us on Oprah

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    The Boylans appeared on Oprah today, “Most Memorable Guests.” You can read the online account of the appearance here.

    The main thing is that my kids spoke: they wanted to advocate on behalf of families like ours, and other children like them. They did great– as did Deedie/Grace, who shone.

    You can draw your own conclusions about the context: the other memorable guests included the Texas Polygamist Wives, Ted Haggard, a 500 pound man, and so on.

    Mostly, though, I am proud of my family. And yes, they showed the cover of She’s Not There, which is a good thing. I’m hoping it’s a good thing for there to be images in the public eye of families like ours, even if some the other guests were a little scary.

    Zach had the best line of the show, though. Later he asked me, vis a vis the Texas Polygamist Wives: “Maddy, if you’re going to have ten wives, shouldn’t at least ONE of them be hot?”

  • Blog

    18 Again

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    I’m back from a swing through Connecticut, which took me to Yale on Thursday, and back to my alma mater, Wesleyan University, on Friday.

    The reading at Yale University’s Sterling library was a good and interesting event for me. Instead of my standard readings (usually stuff from SNoT or ILTY), I read a new and experimental story entitled “Six Graves for Seven Writers,” which is set at the graves of six writers whom I have visited, including Melville, Dickens, Poe, Thurber, and Radclyffe Hall. The piece went over fairly well, although I learned that it’s not exactly an easy sell to a crowd– unlike, say, the thing i did in Seattle for the Richard Hugo house last month. It’s a tremendous gift to be able to “road test” new work–the Marx brothers used to do this, back in the days of vaudeville– and I heard all sorts of new things in the Yale piece that will help me as I go about revision, and possibily performing it again.

    On Friday I got up and drove up to Wesleyan, where I was to see some old, dear friends, and also to serve as a guest at a dinner honoring the writer Edward P. Jones, whose “The Known World” won the Pultizer a few years back. There were lots of other writers and friends of the college there, and it was an honor to be part of the occasion.

    But the thing I wanted to write about was the experience of being back on campus– I graduated 1980, and did indeed love it at Wes. It was there that I was first encouraged by both faculty and other students to try to be creative, to consider maybe being a writer in this life. I still think of Wesleyan as a magical, odd, haunted, quirky place, full of eccentrics and geniuses and characters. I don’t know of any other college like it in the world; I know that getting to go there, when I went there, was one of the great gifts, and turning points of my life.

    Given all that, it was also a tremendously hard place to leave. IT’s also true that when I think back of my Wesleyan days, I also think of how haunted I was then, as a young person– trying so hard to “become” my magical creative boy self, but always held back by my secret self, by my knowledge that the thing I really needed to invent was my own self–and I knew that that invention could never be, or so I was convinced back then.

    So when I go back to Wesleyan–which I do every four years or so– I often encounter the ghost of my younger self, and that leaves me melancholy, feeling sorry for the weight I carried, feeling sad about all the lost time.

    But this time it was different. I don’t know why. But mostly, i felt grateful and happy to be there. IT was a beautiful day– people everywhere, kids on the hill playing frisbee. As I first walked onto campus, i ran smack into a group of a dozen young women–were they dance majors?–all cavorting and chasing each other and doing somersaults and cartwheels. They were like a dance of spring joy, and all I could do was smile and watch them, and be glad. I kept that feeling the whole afternoon. I was glad to have come so far, glad to be back, glad for all the gifts of life. Above all, I did not want to be 20 again. I was glad I made it to 50 and that I have lived this life– and look, here we all still are, dancing the dance of spring.

    IN the morning I woke up and went to a diner breakfast with my friend and by noon on Saturday was heading back to maine, and home, and my family.

    ‘This dream is short, but happy.”

  • Blog

    Why the Amazon de-ranking of GLBT books Matters

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    The online universe is alive this morning with news of’s move to remove sales ranks from so called “adult” themed books. This seems to mean gay and lesbian books, specifically. By the time you read this, this may all well be old news; my bunions tell me Amazon is going to fix this issue today, in response to the wild and rightful cries of outrages, particularly on Twitter. (if you Tweet, you can follow the ongoing debacle via the subject #amazonfail, although I also suspect that Twitter and #amazonfail may well crash this morning as the internet fire grows.)

    I’m one of the banned authors, and it’s probably worth mentioning why this matters. I noticed the change on Saturday, and thought it was just an odd “glitch” (as amazon is now claiming it to be). What happens, though, is that you can’t find my books by searching for them by topic; (although this is inconsistent throughout the country, depending on what server you get). If you search for “homosexuality”, though, you’ll get a half dozen books about how to prevent it; you wont’ get a single book by anyone who is actually gay.

    She’s Not There, as most of you know, was one of the first bestselling books by a trans American; the fact that it had “national bestseller” on the cover helped legitimize it for lots of people who might have been timid about reading it. (Which they shouldn’t have been, but that’s another story.) That designation as “national bestseller” was in part a result of its amazon ranking. It would not recieve that ranking now, as a result of this policy.

    More importantly, readers looking for my book by subject might not be able to find it as a result of this policy.

    Amazon should know better. They’ve de-ranked books by James Baldwin, Rita Mae Brown, Christopher Isherwood. Mein Kampf stays. AMerican Psycho stays. “Heather Has Two Mommies” is out.

    As I said, my guess is that we’ll see a quick retreat by Amazon on this, but this is another good reason why we should trust our local booksellers instead of mega-corporations.

    More soon.

  • Blog

    Us on Oprah, again.

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Today the Boylan family will tape, via Skype, a couple of segments for an upcoming Oprah Winfrey Show. This is an “update” show that will air either in May, or the summer. The agreement with Harpo asks that we not particularly talk about the show much at this point, but we’re hopeful it will go well; our children will be on camera and are likely to be speaking for the first time about what they would like everyone to know is their good family.

    As parents we have our fingers crossed. The Oprah show has been very generous to the Boylans in the past. On the other hand, there is always the possibility we will lose our minds on camera, and the whole thing wind up resembling the short video I post below:

    — 9 AM. Postscript below

    PS. 4 PM. Well we’re done with the show, and while confidentiality keeps us from being able to yammer all about it, I will say that I am very proud of my two boys, who were as eloquent as can be, not to mention Deedie, who is loving and proud of us all. We did NOT particularly get to talk about my writing, which discourages me a little, although they did show the cover of She’s Not There. I’m hoping the show reaches people whom it may help, and as always it’s a gift to be spotlighted by Oprah her self.

    Will post the air date when we know it; last i heard was maybe May.

  • Blog

    Photos from “My Avatar”

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Some photos from the My Avatar performance at Town Hall in Seattle. Photos by the sponsor, Richard Hugo House.

    Below you will see: Jennifer Finney Boylan with a remote mike; the Maldives playing live; the three writers: Vikram Chandra, Christa Bell, and Jenny B.; a nice one of my old friend Vikram (who also appeared as a character in my performance piece); and a great one of Christa Bell, the High Priestess of Cootchie.

  • Blog

    Coronet Blue

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    In the summer of 1967, I was totally entranced by this show, “Coronet Blue.” The plot was about a fella who wakes up after an attempted drowning with no idea who he is. The only thing he remembers is the phrase “Coronet Blue.” So he goes about trying to figure out who he is. Maybe you don’t need to be Dr. Freud to figure out why this had particular resonance for me.

    The thing is though, that CBS–which had filmed the show in 1965, then shelved it, thinking it was too “intellectual”–was essentially dumping the 13 episodes of this show in the summer, when they thought no one would be watching. Instead, it became a hit. But no further episodes were filmed, and the series ended at summer’s conclusion, without anyone ever finding out what “Coronet Blue” really was.

    Years later, thanks to the ever dependable internet, the full story is revealed– apparently the hero was a Russian spy who was trying to defect to the US, and the Russians themselves tried to kill him to keep him from going over to “our” side.

    So there’s that mystery cleared up. In the meantime, here’s this totally awesome opening title credit sequence, complete with go-go dancers, and the plaintive refrain, “I’m wondering who am I.”

  • Blog

    Seattle, 3/20/09: “My Avatar”

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Well, the piece rocked. This is going to be a quick summary, as I’m now back on crash deadline for the new book, but the event in Seattle was life-changing for me, and not only because i got to share the stage with two very cool performers and writers, Vikram Chandra and Christa Bell. INtegrating music and story into a single piece was really powerful for me, and the audience really seemed to groove on it. I would like to do more pieces like this in the future; I’m not sure how to go about that, but if I can, I will.

    The night was filmed, and so far as I know, Richard Hugo house will be putting the tape up on their website in weeks to come. There will also be a readable version of the story online too. So I’ll post links to all that soon. In the meantime, I’ll say very briefly that I wound up, to my surprise, feeling very comfortable on stage. There was one moment while I was playing the harp that I just put my head down and kind of disappeared into the instrument for a little while and the audience vanished. in a good way, i mean. A friend sent me a photo of what I think was that actual moment, posted herewith.

    More soon.

  • Blog

    My Avatar: JB in Seattle, March 20-21

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    It’s off to Seattle for me this week, where I’ll be doing two events for the Richard Hugo House, the city’s center for the arts and a home for writers and artists of all stripes. Among the houses’ many activities is staging various literary stunts from time to time, and this weekend, three writers, including me, will be performing work specially written for this event on the theme of “My Avatar.” There will also be a band, the Maldives. The night gets underway on Friday at Seattle’s Town Hall.

    I will be doing a piece I’ve never done before, presented in an unusual format for me. Instead of the usual English teacheresque reading from published work, I’ll be performing a series of pieces– singing and playing piano, reading from interconnected stories, and picking autoharp. My own take on “avatars” is to talk about imagined selves, the tension between who we believe ourselves to be and who we actually are. The stories include the account of my own duel with a porcupine, which leads immediately to two days at the National Convention for Ventriloquists. One of the other presenters, novelist Vikram Chandra, also makes an appearance in one of the stories– since Vik and I knew each other briefly back at Johns Hopkins in the mid 1980s. Put this together with a song written for the occasion, “My Other Self,” as well as an old harp ballad, “There is a Reason We Carry Our Lunches,” and you have a literary bloodbath of the very best sort in the making.

    There will be some sort of party/reception thing after the Friday night performance, and while I’m unlikely to be able to hang out as much as I’d like with my friends on hand, I do hope I”ll get a chance to meet you.

    There is also a smaller workshop on Saturday, “Stories that Feel Like Movies,” which is a small craft class about how to utilize cinematic technique in story.

    Hope to see you all there!

  • Blog

    Even Watchmen Get the Blues

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    So how about that big blue penis? According to a few of my children’s friends, the Watchmen movie gives new meaning to the phrase “weekend gross”.

    At issue is the character of Jon Osterman, a physicist who, after a radioactive mishap, becomes a glowing omniscient demigod named Dr. Manhattan, who performs most of his business buck naked. As a result, many moviegoers have found themselves considering a fundamental philosophical question: Is a cinematic penis still obscene if it’s translucent and blue?

    Dr. Ted Baehr, media critic at the Christian Film and Television Commission, has, perhaps not surprisingly, come out as anti-blue penis. On the site, Baehr says that the film deserves an X or an NC-17 rating, not the R that it received. “The motion picture industry keeps changing its standards,” he says. “No wonder the Motion Picture Association of America’s rating system confuses parents.” And why should the rating be changed? Because, “throughout most of the whole picture, one male character walks around completely naked, with his private parts waving in the breeze.”

    True enough, except that the parts in question don’t actually belong to Billy Cruddup, the actor playing the good doctor. Apparently the blue meanie was generated by a team of computer graphics engineers. This raises an even more complex issue for parents to wrestle with: Is a translucent glowing blue penis still obscene if it’s not real?

    Opinion, as one might imagine, is split. There was a fission of enthusiasm in the nerd world last October when news of the CGI-penis became official. “Three cheers for atomic blue penises!” began an article over at comicbookmovie.come. Conservative cultural critic Debbie Schlussel, meanwhile, wrote in her blog, “If you see it yourself, you’re also probably a moron and a vapid, indecent human being.” She has a whole host of complaints, but chief among them is Dr. Manhattan’s “swinging computer generated penis frequently in your face on-screen.”
    Clearly there hasn’t been this much excitement about a penis in film since Bart Simpson bared all in 2007’s Simpsons Movie.

    According to the MPAA, an R-rated movie “contains some adult material,” and may “include adult themes, adult activity, hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually oriented nudity, drug abuse or other elements so that parents are counseled to take this rating very seriously.” An NC-17, meanwhile, “simply signals that the content is appropriate only for an adult audience. An NC-17 rating, meanwhile, can be based on violence, sex, aberrational behavior, drug abuse or any other element that most parents would consider too strong and therefore off-limits for viewing by their children.” The MPAA does note, however, that the rating “does not mean ‘obscene’ or ‘pornographic.’”

    By my reading, the key concept separating the two ratings is the concept of “aberrational.” By that measure, a giant translucent demigod’s penis may be many things, but one thing it is not is an aberration, at least not on Mars.

    Before taking my children—ages 15 and 12—to the Watchmen last weekend, the only R-rated movie they’d ever seen was Slumdog Millionaire. We had a good talk in the car about the violence in Slumdog, both the physical kind done to the protagonists as well as the spiritual kind caused by the jaw-dropping poverty of Mumbai. My boys were moved, and entertained by Slumdog, not least because it gave them occasion to think about their own relationship as brothers, and exactly what sorts of risks and sacrifices they’d be willing to make for one another.

    They’d been looking forward to Watchmen for a long time, and had read Alan Moore’s original novel a year or two ago. That novel is every bit as violent as the film, and yes, includes Dr. Manhattan’s penis. I warned them that the film was rumored to be, a-hem, “loyal” to the book in this regard, but this didn’t dampen their enthusiasm. (This was something of a surprise, coming from two young men who on one occasion refused to go to the Guggenheim several years ago because “there might be paintings of naked people.” Score: DC Comics 1, Picasso 0.)
    After the film, my boys admitted that a lot of the images in Watchmen had been a little much for them. But it wasn’t Dr. Manhattan that made them uneasy—it was the scenes of heads being whacked with meat cleavers, guys arms being bisected with circular saws; and, oh yes, the obliteration of most of Manhattan by some sort of thermonuclear device. My older son, who claims to be a pacifist, found that deeply disturbing, “even if it is based on a cartoon.”
    As for Dr. Manhattan? My sons said, “Well, he’s slowly becoming less and less human, so clothes have just become kind of strange for him. You can sympathize with that.” And the blue penis that has caused all the trouble? “Normally, it would bother me, but with Dr. Manhattan, you know, it just seems kind of natural.”

    There was also some surprise—I have to put this delicately—that the Doctor’s unit itself was of a size somewhat less than cosmic. After all, this is a guy who can change the pigmentation of his skin, teleport himself to Mars, and see the future. Is Watchmen really trying to tell us that size doesn’t matter? One of my boys wondered whether in days to come we might see one of those “Natural Male Enhancement” commercials on television, except that instead of “Whistling Bob” we’ll see a very satisfied looking Dr. Manhattan.

    They also liked the sound track of the film, which features lots of Bob Dylan. The use of “The Times They Are a Changin’” as background to the opening montage struck all of us as particularly moving.

    Whether the times actually are changing, and we’re now about to enter a new era of translucent penises in movies remains to be seen. In the meantime, I’m hoping that any Watchmen sequel might consider, in addition to Dylan, adding the music of Miles Davis to the soundtrack. Starting with “Kind of Blue.”

  • Blog

    JB, The Opera: Part 2. “When I was a lad….”

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    My life as Gilbert and Sullivan Operetta, part 2; part 1 is a few posts down…

    When I was a lad I stole a bra
    From my sisters drawer and I went Ta-Da!
    I pranced all around and I went Boo-Hoo
    And I stuck my giant foot into a size six shoe!

    (chorus: )
    She stuck her giant foot into a size six shoe!

    I stuck my foot where it should not go
    And now I am an author on the Oprah Show!

    (chorus: )
    She stuck her foot where it should not go
    And now she is an author on the Oprah Show!

    I went to college and became such a dork
    That I got a degree and moved up to New York
    I worked in an office and I swole up my glands
    and I got the authors coffee when they clapped their hands!

    (chorus: )
    She got the authors coffee when they clapped their hands!

    I drank so much coffee that I made some dough
    and now I am an author on the Oprah Show!

    (chorus: )
    She drank so much coffee that she made some dough
    and now she is an author on the Oprah Show.

    I went to Dr. O for to shave off my ridge
    Using all that cash from my male privilege,
    I wrecked my family and I went all glam
    And I wrote a little book about how sad I am!

    (chorus: )
    She wrote a little book about how sad she am!

    Narcissstic? Me? Oh I just don’t know.
    Did I mention I’m an author on the Oprah Show?

    (chorus: )
    She’s so narrcissistic that we just don’t know
    Why she mentions she’s an author on the Oprah Show!

    Now drag queens all, whoever you may be
    If you want to rise to the top of the tree
    If you want to know what I’d teach in school,
    Just be careful to be guided by this golden rule:

    (chorus: )
    Be careful to be guided by her golden rule.

    Please don’t write a book! And never lift a toe.
    And you may all be authors on the Oprah Show!

    (chorus: )
    Please don’t write a book! And never lift a toe
    And you may all be authors on the Oprah Show!

  • Blog

    You Will Not Die; It’s Not Poison

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    A re-tweet (sic) from MHB and Helen B.’s Transgroup Blog. Worth repeating. This was in response to adiscussion of “What have you lost during gender transition?” The folks over there have a variety of experiences– some of them appear to have lost nothing and improved their lives; others have lost family, jobs, homes, the Full Monty. My thoughts follow:

    • Most people I know have lost something in transition.

    • in my case, among other things, I lost a sister and a good friend.

    • Although I do not know if that loss is forever.

    • And the nature of my relationship with the woman I love has been altered. In some ways for better, in other ways, not.

    • Trans people are often told they should EXPECT to lose many precious things.
    Sometimes this happens.

    • But it doesn’t always happen. Often, the things that are lost–like the things you keep– are not what you expect.

    • But I get tired of the focus so often being on the bucket of blood which is loss of family, loss of jobs, loss of house, water on the knee, lockjaw and arthritis. It’s not always that.

    • To some degree, what you lose–or keep– is a direct result of HOW you transition, and WHAT your expectations are. This is a fact that many trans people refuse to own up to. Here are some things that have been done by people I know who tend to have suffered the most losses: 1) starting a transition without consulting loved ones; 2) secretly sucking down hormones off the web; 3) expecting loved ones to be happy for you; 4) issuing ultimatums; 5) refusing to accept how hard a transition can be on those that love us; 6) being blind in so many ways.

    • To some degree this is true at work as well. People that I know who have lost their jobs have done some of these things: 1) started surreptiously x-dressing at work on some level– wearin’ scanty underthings; wearing makeup or piercing the unexpected== all of this without a clear transition plan; 2) expecting people at work to be thrilled about it all for you. 3) Using the “new” restroom and being blind to how this might even give open minded people the creeps. In some circumstances. And so on.

    • I think people frequently lose control of their transitions, and thus their stories, through their own indiscretions– like “telling just one person” who winds up being a person who does not keep that secret for you. Next thing you know, the story is out all over town, and you’re toast. Ask Susan Stanton about this. Better yet, don’t.

    • Having said that, the OPPOSITE is true as well: I know people who have lost their families and jobs no matter how carefully they planned; no matter how kindly, patiently, and competently they tried to share the news, spill the beans, bring people along. I know wise, sweet people who have bent over backwards in every way only to wind up flat on their faces, abandoned by exactly the people they reached way out for; fired by their so-called open minded bosses for reason oh-so-supposedly unrelated to trans stuff.

    • And the opposite of the opposite is also true: People who have behaved like complete, thoughtless imbeciles at times have Done Very Well Anyhow. (And I would describe myself, and almost every trans person I know as at least occasionally falling into this category.) Sometimes this is dumb luck; sometimes this is because it’s all actually less of a big deal sometimes, and in some situations, that we think; sometimes it’s because people are given the opportunity, over time, to be forgiving. Sometimes it’s because people’s love turns out to be unconditional; or nearly so. Sometimes it’s because It’s Never Really Over; and life itself provides plenty of mulligans. Or, if you like, do-overs. And being Trans is not the most shocking mulligan that there is.

    • the people who may have been most supportive of my transition are my nonagenarian conservative Christian mother and my then-tiny children; some of the people who have been least supportive have been politically liberal; some of the people grasping the issues least succintly are gay and lesbian.

    • It is fair to want to wonder “are the losses worth it all?” And this is a Very Good Question to Ask. Too often, Trans People don’t think about the consequences of their actions; they hurtle along like asteroids on fire, and as they fall they scream out, “Hey, I’m becomin’ my true self! Be happy for me!”

    • And yet at the same time, it’s like asking, “if you’d known how much dialysis was going to suck, would you have CHOSEN kidney disease?”

    • I can’t make sense of all this but if there is any one thing I believe in,–and not only in trans matters– it’s “Be The Change You Wish To See.”

    • some of the people most annoying or draining or least insightful about the issues are other trans people.

    Like me.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Jenny B.

  • Blog

    I Am the Very Model of an M to F Transsexual

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    I am the very model of an M to F Transsexual
    I’ve changed my sex in Canada and Belgium and in Mex-u-al
    Each day I read my Vouge and Cosmo and my Glamour-y
    I’ve silicone and saline in my most expensive mammary.

    I’m very well acquainted, too, with matters theoretical
    I find J. Michael Bailey and his ilk so damned heretical
    Just like Judith Butler, Helen Boyd and Betty I”ve a lot o’ news
    With many cheerful facts about my hypothalmuse.

    She’s many cheerful facts about the transgal hypothalmuse!
    She’s many cheerful facts about the transgal hypothalmuse!
    She’s many cheerful facts about the transgal hypothalmuse!

    I had my forehead bonked and shaved and shaped by Dr. Oesterhut
    I drink my whiskeys neet and up on pink and girly coasters but
    I’ve been to Neenah, Scottsdale, but my wife she still suspects you all
    I am the very model of an M to F Transsexual!

    She’s been to Neenah, Scottsdale but her wife she still suspects us all!
    She is the very model of an M to f Transsexual!

    I drive a hybrid, ‘lectrocar that thrives on zero octane
    I take Premarin and Estrace, Asprin, gin and Spirolactane,
    I like arguing on line with wackos, wimps and get analysis
    I paint my toenails pink for electo-rolysis.

    I told my wife I loved her then I got myself a double D,
    I’m still the same except my narccissitic personality,
    I shop at Target, T.J Maxx and steal my skirts from Hit or Miss,
    And I spent my children’s college fund on spongecake and a clitoris.

    She blew her children’s college fund on spongecake and a clitoris!
    She blew her children’s college fund on spongecake and a clitoris!
    She blew her children’s college fund on spongecake and a clitoris!

    I’m just the same as other women cept when I decide I’m not,
    I’m half a Jezebel and half a not-forgotten Hotentot,
    I’ve been on Larry King but Larry says he just rejects you all
    I am the very model of an M to F Transsexual!

    I spend my time with Helen, Betty, Chloe and with Sarah Lake
    I love Lyn Conway just for her I baked myself a Tasty-cake
    I yelled at Pregnant Man and unwise online-ordered hormone use
    Did I say I’m well acquainted with the transgal hypothalamuse?

    Yes, you said you’re well acquainted with the transgal hypothalmuse!
    Yes, you said you’re well acquainted with the transgal hypothalmuse!
    Yes, you said you’re well acquainted with the transgal hypothalmuse!

    I wrote She’s Not There I read My Husband Betty I read Second Serve,
    Connundrum, Wrapped in Blue, I love Calpernia and her bosom’s curve,
    (suddenly bursts out with: )
    I–uh–had sex with Donna Rose!!!
    (looks mortified!)
    Do I detect a pall?
    (proudly: )
    I am the very model of an M to F transsexual!

    She is the very model of an M to F transsexual!
    She is the very model of an M to F transsexual!
    She is the very model of an M to F transsexual!

    (she bows)
    Thank you.

  • Blog

    Shillington’s Favorite Son

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    A fond, short remembrance of John Updike by Charles Osgoode.

  • Blog

    The After and the Before Pictures, Venetian Edition

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    High above the Pallazo San Marco, Venice, Italy, spring of 2004, on assignment for Conde Nast Traveler magazine. The Italians thought I was German. Two different fellas greeted me with, Buona sera, Fraulein, which is a mouthful.

    Venice is probably my favorite city in the world, and I am spending all my days and nights trying to figure out a way of spending the rest of my life there. Nothing’s come to mind yet, but I’ll keep you in the loop.

    Interested observers of these phenomena can contrast this with Picture B, taken in the same spot five years earlier. That’s himself looking at the world through his John Lennon glasses, once more above the Palazzo drenched in sunlight, and feeling, as Evelyn Waugh wrote of Venice, like I was “drowning in honey,” which is not at all a bad feeling if you are in love. I hope to drown in it again some day.

    Anyway, found these while cleaning up the ol’ hard drive and thought they’d be interesting to share. I’m reminded of Groucho Marx’s observation: “Outside of the improvement you’d never notice the difference.”

  • Blog

    Two Women of Vastly Differing Sizes

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Herself and Barbara Walters. December 2008.

    Of all the media stuff I’ve done, nobody came to an interview having done more homework than BW. She treated me with respect and intelligence. Way cool.

    Alas the only photographic record of the encounter, outside of the 20/20 episode itself (largely consumed by the insatiable and ever-ravenous Pregnant Man ©) is this snapshot hurriedly taken on someone’s cheesey cell phone. All the retouching tricks in all of iPhoto’s great empire can’t transform this into a portrait that is flattering to either one of us, alas. Still, you know how it goes. We’ll always have Paris.

  • Blog


    - by Jennifer Boylan

    This is fairly self explanatory.

  • Blog

    Richard Hugo House interviews Jenny Boylan

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    JB to perform at Richard Hugo House in Seattle on March 20 & 21st; here’s an interview Hugo House did with me in advance of the performance, which will be at Seattle Town Hall, and which is on the subject, “My Avatar.”


    Hugo House: In a couple of months you will debut a brand-new piece at Hugo House; have you started working on it yet?

    Jennifer Finney Boylan: Yes, I’m right in the thick of it. I have lots of ideas for this, and the hard part is keeping the whole thing short, and making the parts fit together. I’m not going to write about “avatars” as computer-world images; and I don’t know anything about the sense of the word as Hindu “incarnation.” What interests me is the difference between the face we show to the world and the face we have in our private hearts. For transgender people the division between public and private selves can be profound, although I’ll also say that you don’t have to be trans to feel a conflict between your secret self and the face, as Eliot wrote, that you prepare “to meet the faces that you meet.” It’s that conflict between inner and outer selves that interests me, so that’s what I’m working on.

    A long time ago, when I was a boy, I went as a journalist to do a story on the National Ventriloquists’ Convention, which was in Kentucky, of all places. At first I thought this was the most ridiculous story I’d ever tried to do—the place was literally overflowing with dorky guys and their dummies. But as time went by it was hard not to find something touching—and occasionally heartbreaking—about the ventriloquists and their figures. Some of these guys, maybe it goes without saying, had dummies that looked almost exactly like themselves.

    And then, amazingly, I went back to the ventriloquists’ convention as a woman, 25 years later. The ventriloquists all seemed the same to me, but I had sure changed. And it occurred to me that back in the day, when I was walking around as a guy, and no one knew my secret heart, that I’d kind of been my own dummy.

    Again, maybe this seems too idiotic or bizarre for most people to connect to, but I guess that’s what I’m thinking about as I write “My Avatar.” All of us are our own dummies.

    HH: What were your first thoughts on receiving an invitation to write on an assigned theme? Any regrets on having said yes?

    JFB: I have to admit that the theme of My Avatar gave me trouble, since (as I said above), I don’t really have any interest in the online world and I don’t know much about the Hindu religion. So I’ve had to find a corner of this avatar business—the negotiation between public and private selves—that I can feel comfortable talking about.

    HH: Could you tell us a little bit about your process—how you approach writing something new?

    JFB: In this case, I have about a dozen different stories; I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to weave them all together. I guess it’s sort of like making a stew with a slow cooker. I’m just going to throw everything in there and leave it on low for a couple months, and see what it turns into.

    HH: If you could create an avatar for your work as a writer, what would it look like?

    I’d look just like me, only younger and more beautiful.

    HH: In “Snow Crash,” Neal Stephenson writes of the “metaverse,” a user-defined world that was the inspiration for “Second Life.” Describe your metaverse for us.

    JFB: It’s not the metaverse I have trouble imagining, it’s reality. My friend Richard Russo once read something I’d written and he said it was “wonderfully strange”; I just looked at him blankly and said, but this is the world I live in. He just laughed and said, “Boylan, the thing is, you write in this surreal, fantastical mode. You only think it’s realism.” Whether this is my great failing as a writer, or my great strength, I guess I’ll leave it up to readers to decide.

  • Blog

    Loss & Love

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Two different events are in my heart today, one happy, one sad. The sad news is that the economic worldwide meltdown has hit very close to home– yesterday, HarperCollins publishers fired 100 people, including the editor of my new book, Brenda Bowen, and everyone who works at her imprint, Bowen Books. It was a truly horrible slaying, a kind of “get your stuff and leave the office by five” thing.

    I’ll quickly add that my new book, Falcon Quinn, will be reassigned to a different editor and will probably be published right on schedule, so fans of my writing need not immediately drape themselves in black.

    But Brenda Bowen– a graduate of Colby College, 1980!–an English major!– was the one who called me on the phone on Halloween 2007, after seeing a piece of mine in the New York Times, and who asked, have you ever considered writing for young readers? Together we worked out the plot and the plan for Falcon Quinn, which just last week went in its new draft to HarperCollins, and this week we have been looking at covers together. Brenda is a legendary editor, and a lovely person. And is now the latest casualty of the ongoing financial bloodbath.

    I’ve had, so far, a dear friend lose her job at AT&T (to be saved by her union at the last second, thank goodness), and another have to take on a second job to stay afloat. Our children’s college funds, carefully tended these last dozen years are worth almost half of what they were worth last year. All around me now I see the fires spreading.

    Tempermentally I like to think I am full of devotion and love and compassion, but the rising tide increasingly fills me with fear and sadness. I do not know what the future holds, but the clouds keep gathering. The end is nowhere in sight.

    Last night my younger boy said something that made my throat close up. I told him about Brenda losing her job, and he, being a big fan of “the monster book” said, thoughtfully, “Well, maybe if the monster book does really well, we could maybe– do something for her?”

    I nodded. Yes, I said. That’d be nice.

    Unbelievable, I thought, the generosity and love of children. Would that this were enough to roll back the darkness of the world.

    Speaking of children– that’s the other thing. Today, this very day, my older boy, Zachary Owen Boylan, is fifteen years old.

    One and a half decades ago, on a cold February night, Deedie and I were watching “Brideshead REvisited” on VHS. There’s a scene with Charles and Sebastian and all their friends at Oxford having a feast. Charles reached forward to taste “the egg of a wild plover.” Deedie said, “I think we have to go to the hospital now.” I put the VCR on “pause,” and the image of Charles’ hand reaching for the plover egg was frozen, forever. And the life that we had known came to an end, and a new one began. The next day– February 11, 1994, a baby cried out loud in a room filled with light and Deedie’s face opened up like the sun and she said, “That’s— amazing!”

    It has been amazing, these last 15 years. Now Zach is the lead in his 9th grade play, is learning how to fence with foils; has a big head of curly blonde hair; likes incomprehensible ‘death metal’; plays Irish fiddle tunes on his violin; loves his brother and his mother and his maddy and his two goofy black dogs.

    The light which began to shine from Deedie fifteen years ago today is brighter than ever.

    This light is not strong enough to roll back the darkness of the world, from all the terrible things that seem to keep accumulating. But it’s enough to cast a warm glow on the members of this family, these boys and women and dogs, and for this I give thanks.