By Sally Gammie
Jenny Finney Boylan, author of 15 books, and political activist well known in the LGBTQ community came to speak at the Van Duzer Theatre Thursday night on Feb. 2. Her talk focused on her journey through the process of transitioning from male to female, which she didn’t undergo until she was already married, and in her forties. She also spoke about the importance of accepting people for who they are, no matter their gender, sexual orientation, or race.
Mary Bockover was the organizer of the event. She said it was not difficult to get Jenny Boylan to come to Humboldt State.
“Not at all! She responded right away,” said Bockover. “She’s unbelievably personable, really a fantastic person.”
Bockover is a part of the Philosophy Forum here at HSU, as such she is passionate about giving students on campus a feeling of being able to think freely and critically.
“LGBTQ rights are so important, and they need to be approached very carefully,” Bockover said. “It’s so important to be able to pursue avenues of sound evidence. My desire was to create a forum for allowing this to happen in a public context.”
This idea of bringing reputable, well known individuals that will inspire this kind of thinking is what led Bockover to book Jenny Boylan. The audience consisted of an array of people including students, faculty, and local Arcata civilians alike. It wasn’t the largest crowd, but everyone there was undoubtedly engaged and moved by the words of Jenny Boylan.
As casual, conversational and at times humorous as Boylan’s talk was, that had no effect on the emotional impact her content had on the audience. At one point in her talk she shared a story about her life as a college student.
“In those days I lived a double life, female out of the classroom, male when I was on campus,” said Boylan. “There was a girl we’ll call Scarlet, who had a very dissatisfying relationship with me.”
One night when Boylan was out on the town, dressed as a women, she ran into Scarlet at a club. Because she was dressed as a women, Scarlet didn’t recognize her. They had a moment in the bathroom where Scarlet was crying, she was crying over “some boy.” That boy was Jenny Boylan. While they were in the bathroom, Boylan gave Scarlet a tissue under the divider of the stall where their fingers touched for a fraction of a second.
“It was complexified equilibrium, all right,” said Boylan.
The term “complexified equilibrium” was brought up throughout Boylan’s talk. It’s a term she defined as being when things have to continuously change and grow in order to reach a sense of equilibrium. Life isn’t simple, life isn’t stagnant, and we must be willing to accept an inevitably ever changing world in order to maintain what she defines as a sense of equilibrium.
There was a short Q and A after the talk. Abby Hamburg, a 21-year-old HSU communications major, was anxious to meet one of his idols and get the chance to ask her a question.
“Do you still dream of going to space?” Hamburg asked. “And what advice do you have to those of us still stuck in the forest playing our version of ‘girl planet’?”
This question was in reference to one of Boylan’s books She’s Not There, where she shared her childhood fantasy of being an astronaut.
“There’s a chapter in my book, where I talk about when I was a kid how I would pretend I’d crash landed on a distant planet where the atmosphere turned me into a girl,” Boylan said. She went on to address a little about her dreams of going to space and how it’s always been a fantasy for her. Boylan was clearly touched by the personal question.
Boylan reassured Hamburg to follow his dreams, and to never stop being true to yourself. Ultimately the message of her talk boiled down to this, to keep an open mind and unapologetically love yourself and everyone around you.