Author Archives: Jennifer Finney Boylan

There is a Reason: a little song.

Okay, boys n’ berries. I wanted to share a song with you.  (You can click the play button below to hear the tune.) I wrote this in 1982, when I figured I was in the closet forever.  I almost never played this song for 25 years, then I started singing it again. Maybe this tune […]

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Jenny Boylan on Caitlyn Jenner: The Big Dress Theory

Belgrade Lakes, Maine August 14, 2015 I’ve avoided commenting on Caitlyn Jenner in a public way thus far, in part because I’m a consultant on her series I AM CAIT, not to mention an occasional member of the cast. More importantly, though, I see Caitlyn, like lots of trans-people in early transition,  as a work […]

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About “Transgendered”: Some History & Grammar

Here’s a piece Helen Boyd wrote for her blog; she asked me to add a postscript, which of course rapidly swelled to a thing larger than Helen’s original.  Submitted for your consideration. By Helen Boyd and Jennifer Finney Boylan. Helen: I’m well aware that the term “transgendered” is objected to by some for a variety […]

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Beyond Caitlyn Jenner: Micro-documentary on Trans Civil Rights History.

This “Op-doc” appeared in the New York Times on June 15, 2015. Featuring Lordes Ashley Hunter, Nick Adams, Susan Stryker, Sylvia Rivera, and me. Anybody who thinks they have an opinion about trans people might want to watch this for perspective.

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The Pirate Maiden

This is a piece I wrote on New Years Day as a gift for Wesleyan’s newspaper, the Argus, of which I was the editor in chief thirty-five years ago. The Pirate Maiden by Jennifer Finney Boylan We put the Argus to bed about 4 AM, and then the editor said, “Chinatown,”  and off we went. […]

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JFB in NYT: A Mind is a Terrible Thing Not to Waste

This essay appeared in the New York Times on Saturday, June 6, 2015. THERE I was, at the height of the great Disco Summer, selling hot dogs in the shadow of a six-story, elephant-shaped building on the shores of Margate, N.J. Most nights, my shift started at midnight. It was June 1977, just after my freshman […]

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It’s off to Middletown, CT for me this weekend, to Wesleyan University, where I’m receiving the Distinguished Alumna award from my alma mater, an award that clearly indicates just how far the market value of Distinguishment has fallen. Wesleyan, where I studied from 1976-80 remains, after all this time,  a place rife with mythology and […]

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Greetings Culture Lovers

Greetings culture lovers, as Bullwinkle the Moose’s “Mr-Know-It-All” used to say. I apologize for letting this site languish.  As some of you know, I moved to New York to begin a spring semester as Barnard’s new Anna Quindlen Writer in Residence this spring, and between the business of my schedule (and kinda like, forgetting my […]

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READ WRITE SCREAM: How to Save Your Life

Here’s a column I wrote for the New York Times, published January 7, 2014. THEY placed an unlit candle in my hands. Hundreds of people sat quietly in chairs. This was at the L.G.B.T. Community Center in Greenwich Village in November, at an event called the Transgender Day of Remembrance. It happens every year, people […]

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9 Ways to Save Your Life if You’re Young and Trans

What does it say about us that a 17 year old transgender person like Leelah Alcorn would choose to jump in front of a truck rather than live her life? Here is my list of Nine Things You Can Do if You’re Young and Trans. Maybe you have some of your own. Let’s pay this […]

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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."