Transgender author Boylan informs through comedy, poetry

By Jordan Colombo
Flapjack staff

Jennifer Finney Boylan is a 58-year-old trans woman, professor at Barnard College Columbia University, author of many books, and activist. On Feb. 2, Boylan came to Humboldt State University to speak about her life experiences through poetry that she has written and comedy.

She started her show by reading some of her poetry that talked about her life being a boy and knowing from a young age that she was not born in the body that she was meant to be in. Then, she transitioned into poems that talked about her mustering up the courage to admit to herself what was going on because the entire time she lived in a fantasy that she was a women and finally decided to make that fantasy into a reality. She was very sure of herself that she wanted to be a women and gained all this confidence and security by being able to love herself, as well as accepting love from others.

Boylan then went into talking about what we as a people can do to help others going through a similar experience

“We have to be allies to the trans people,” Boylan said. “Sometimes they can’t speak for themselves, especially trans women of color because they are so marginalized and victimize that they need the most support.”

She also understood plight of most trans people’s experience. Boylan grew up in a supportive both emotionally and financially, upper class family, and most trans people do not get such an opportunity, and so they have to turn to selling their bodies just so they can go through with their transition.

Boylan mentioned how her transition was not hard

“My secret was no longer a secret,” she said. However, she was scared that people were going to judge her mom. She had a conversation with her mom one day where her mother reassured Boylan. Her mother knew she was going to be judged because people don’t talk about this kind of thing where they are from. But her mother could handle the judgment.

Paloma Sky, a 22-year-old philosophy major, said she didn’t know much about this topic.

“I just don’t know the proper terminologies,” Sky said. “I was moved by the way she composed her show, and how she was very informative.”

Gladys Anderson, 56, an Arcata resident, had read Boylan’s book.

“I was glad that she touched basis on the privilege that she came from, but upset that she didn’t mention the struggle that her wife went through during the transition,” Anderson said.

Mary Bockover, a philosophy teacher at HSU, was excited about the show.

“This is an amazing woman,” Bockover said, “who is able to talk about her life through comedy and poetry.”


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