Jennifer Finney Boylan

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Jennifer Finney Boylan
Born (1958-06-22) June 22, 1958 (age 65)
EducationWesleyan University (BA)
Johns Hopkins University (MFA)
  • Author
  • activist
  • professor
  • television personality
Known forTransgender activism
SpouseDeirdre Boylan (m. 1988)
WebsiteOfficial website

Jennifer Finney Boylan (born June 22, 1958)[1] is an American author, transgender activist, professor at Barnard College, and a former contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. She was the vice president of PEN America[2] and became PEN America's president in December 2023.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Boylan was born in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, and graduated from The Haverford School, a private prep school in Haverford, Pennsylvania, in 1976. She graduated from Wesleyan University in 1980, then completed graduate work in English at Johns Hopkins University.[4]


Boylan was on the faculty of Colby College from 1988 to 2014.[5][6] In 2000, she was named "Professor of the Year" at Colby College.[7][8] She moved to Barnard in 2014, where she is both Professor of English and Anna Quindlen Writer-in-Residence.[9]

Boylan has written thirteen books, including novels, collections of short stories, and her memoir. Her 2003 memoir, She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders was the first book published by an openly transgender American to become a bestseller and was described by The Advocate as "a seminal piece of the trans literary canon".[10][5] Her memoir, Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs was published on April 21, 2020, with Celadon Books.[11]

In October 2022, she published Mad Honey, a novel co-written with New York Times bestselling author, Jodi Picoult.[12]

She was a Contributing Opinion Writer in The New York Times from October 2007 to April 2022.[5][12]

In 2013, Boylan was chosen as the first openly transgender co-chair of GLAAD's National Board of Directors.[13] Boylan also serves on the Policy Advisory Board of Gender Rights Maryland[14] and the Board of Trustees of the Kinsey Institute for Research on Sex, Gender, and Reproduction.

Public life[edit]

Boylan has spoken on numerous college campuses, including Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Columbia, and Barnard.[15] Boylan has made appearances via a variety of media outlets to discuss her life, books, and activism. She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, The Today Show, 48 Hours, and NPR.[5] She made an appearance on 20/20 on April 24, 2015, after Caitlyn Jenner came out as trans, and regularly appeared on screen and as a consultant on Jenner's reality show I Am Cait.[16]

Based on the text of the appeal, she signed "A Letter on Justice and Open Debate" which appeared on Harper's Magazine website on 7 July 2020, including many high-profile names, some with controversial positions on human sexuality within the trans community, such as J. K. Rowling. On discovering the names of the other signatories post-publication, Boylan retracted her signature.[17]

On NPR's news quiz program Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!, Boylan achieved a perfect score when tested about hot dogs.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Boylan is a trans woman. She has two children, Zaira and Sean, with Deirdre Boylan, whom she married in 1988.[19] Boylan began transitioning in 2000.[20][21] In 2019, she told the LGBTQ&A podcast, "I've been maybe three or four different women at this point in my life. Early on in transition, I was very youthful. I cared a lot about my appearance and being sexy and my clothes. Fashion was really important to me, passing was really important to me. Appearing cis, I'm sorry to say, was probably more important to me than it should have been...It's the spectacular mystery of life, the way we keep becoming other versions of ourselves."[22]

She lives with her wife in New York City and Belgrade Lakes, Maine.[15] Nine years after she began her transition, Boylan published an article for The New York Times stating that "my spouse and I love each other, and that our legal union has been a good thing – for us, for our children and our community".[23]

Boylan plays keyboard instruments as well as the zither[24] and describes playing in various bands in her autobiography.

Awards and honors[edit]

In June 2020, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first LGBTQ Pride parade, Queerty named her among the fifty heroes “leading the nation toward equality, acceptance, and dignity for all people”.[25][26]


  • Remind Me to Murder You Later (1988) ISBN 0-8018-3728-6
  • The Planets (April 15, 1991) ISBN 978-0671727154
  • The Constellations: A Novel (November 8, 1994) ISBN 978-0679430216
  • Getting In (September 1, 1998) ISBN 978-0446674171
  • She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders (July 29, 2003) ISBN 978-0767914048
  • I'm Looking Through You: Growing Up Haunted: A Memoir (January 15, 2008) ISBN 978-0767921749
  • Falcon Quinn and the Black Mirror (May 11, 2010) ISBN 978-0061728327
  • Falcon Quinn and the Crimson Vapor (May 10, 2011) ISBN 978-0061728358
  • Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders (April 30, 2013) ISBN 978-0767921763
  • Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community (June 10, 2014) ISBN 978-0199325351
  • You Are You (May 12, 2015) ISBN 978-3868285406
  • Falcon Quinn and the Bullies of Greenblud (September 16, 2016)
  • Long Black Veil (April 11, 2017) ISBN 978-0451496324
  • Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs (April 21, 2020) ISBN 978-1250261861
  • Mad Honey with Jodi Picoult (2022) ISBN 978-0735276932


  • Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs (April 12, 2005) ISBN 978-1400030149
  • The Book of Dads: Essays on the Joys, Perils, and Humiliations of Fatherhood (May 12, 2009) ISBN 978-0061711558
  • Love Is a Four-Letter Word: True Stories of Breakups, Bad Relationships, and Broken Hearts (July 28, 2009) ISBN 978-0452295506
  • How Beautiful the Ordinary (October 6, 2009) ISBN 978-0061154980
  • It Gets Better (March 22, 2011) ISBN 978-0525952336
  • Truth & Dare: 20 Tales of Heartbreak and Happiness (April 26, 2011) ISBN 978-0762441044

See also[edit]


  1. ^ She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders, Broadway, 2003.
  2. ^ "Current Board of Trustees". 20 September 2016.
  3. ^ Harris, Elizabeth A. (December 11, 2023). "Jennifer Finney Boylan to Lead PEN America". The New York TImes. Retrieved December 11, 2023.
  4. ^ "Jennifer Boylan | Barnard College".
  5. ^ a b c d "Professor Jennifer Finney Boylan (Maine) (May 2011 – Present)". GLAAD. Retrieved 2012-12-26.
  6. ^ "Jennifer Finney Boylan -". WCSH6. 27 May 2014. Archived from the original on May 28, 2014.
  7. ^ "Jennifer Finney Boylan". Archived from the original on 2014-07-01.
  8. ^ "Jennifer Finney Boylan Home Page".
  9. ^ "Jennifer Boylan | Barnard English".
  10. ^ "Jenny Boylan's Trans Memoir Chronicles Her 'Boyhood' Through Her Dogs". 2020-06-16. Retrieved 2022-04-10.
  11. ^ "Good Boy – Celadon Books". 30 May 2019. Retrieved 2020-07-11.
  12. ^ a b Boylan, Jennifer Finney (2022-04-09). "Opinion | I'm a Trans Woman. Bullies Don't Surprise Me, but Allies Still Do". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-04-10.
  13. ^ Reynolds, Daniel (2013-11-08). "GLAAD Appoints First Transgender Cochair". Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  14. ^ "Policy Advisory Board". Gender Rights Maryland. Archived from the original on February 21, 2013. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  15. ^ a b "Professor Jennifer Finney Boylan". GLAAD.
  16. ^ Stelter, Brian (April 25, 2015). "The Reaction to Bruce Jenner is Love". CNN.
  17. ^ Nolan, Emma (July 8, 2020). "Trans Author Jennifer Finney Boylan Recants 'Cancel Culture' Letter Signed by J.K. Rowling". Newsweek. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  18. ^ "Not My Job: Jenny Finney Boylan Gets Quizzed On Hot Dogs". Retrieved 2021-05-24.
  19. ^ "Jennifer Finney Boylan Named Inaugural Anna Quindlen Writer-in-Residence at Barnard".
  20. ^ Finney Boylan, Jennifer (May 11, 2009). "Is My Marriage Gay?". The New York Times.
  21. ^ Leung, Rebecca (23 February 2004). "Trapped: Jenny Boylan".
  22. ^ "Jennifer Finney Boylan Looks Back on Her Infamous Interview With Oprah". 2019-03-20. Retrieved 2022-04-10.
  23. ^ Finney Boylan, Jennifer (2009-05-11). "Is My Marriage Gay?". The New York Times.
  24. ^ Season two, episode six, I Am Cait
  25. ^ "Queerty Pride50 2020 Honorees". Queerty. Retrieved 2020-06-30.
  26. ^ Bull, Chris (2020-07-11). "These queer media stars are helping save America from itself". Queerty. Retrieved 2020-08-02.

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