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

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)

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  1. Margie
    Posted January 9, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

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

  2. Posted January 11, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

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

    I’ll get me coat.

  3. Posted September 7, 2011 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    Man was it super hot here today!

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  • The Boylan Family, summer 2010

    DSC_0063 "You hang around our family, you learn all kinds of stuff."
  • Will Forte as Jennifer Finney Boylan on “Saturday Night Live”

    WiFo-Jennifer Finney Boylan-1
  • Jenny with Barbara Walters, December, 2008

  • Jenny atop Maine’s Mount Katahdin

    2036947979_34bfbec240 August, 2002.
  • Surrounded

    boylanWith President Clinton and Maine's Governor John Baldacci, fall 2006.
  • JFB and Edward Albee


    Edward had been my teacher at Johns Hopkins in the winter of 1986. He visited Colby in fall, 2007. As we took our leave of each other, he kissed me on both cheeks and said, "We have done well. You and I."

  • Jenny and her teacher, the great John Barth


    Jack was my professor at JHU when I did my thesis, back in the day. After many years, I can now confidently say I finally understand his definition of plot. Which is, of course, "the perturbation of an unstable homeostatic system and its catastrophic restoration to a new and complexified equilibrium."