Jennifer Finney Boylan discussed on Fresh Air


To my interview with Jennifer Finney Boylan is written extensively about her life as a transgender woman her new memoir is called good boy my life and seven dogs it's about seven stages of her life and the dogs she had in each of those stages so one of the big surprises of your life is you know you you raised two sons and then one one of your sons was I guess in his twenties he told you that he was going to transition to being a woman and you had like no clue apparently that he was thinking about that what was it like to hear your son tell you that he was going to become your daughter because you went through this with your own mother you you know you're on the other end of it yeah I want to be careful because they want to protect my daughter's privacy to some degree here yes but I'll simply say that when I came out as trans my expectation was that people should be happy for me and I knew it was asking a lot of people but I still had the the hope that people would understand that I was doing a difficult thing that was necessary that would enable me to survive in the world later when my own child came out as trans I was surprised at how much I struggled at least at first with it and I suddenly have this insight into what I've been asking other people including my own mother to understand and in the end I think I was glad for her and I love my daughter and I'm really proud of her but it's funny how I think having me as a parent didn't make my daughter's transition easier in some ways I think it may have made it harder we have a lot of our dreams tied up in our children and it is hard to understand the obvious which is that your your children aren't here to live your dreams your children are here to live there's when I came out to my own mother twenty years ago she was eighty five she was an evangelical Christian she was a Republican and I had a pretty good sense that my coming out as trans was not gonna striker is the greatest thing that ever happened to her and yet I came out to her I told her the story and I started to cry and she got up out of her chair and she put her arms around me and she said I would never turn my back on my child I will always love you and I said but mom want to be a scandal when everyone finds out that I am your daughter now and she said well quite frankly yes but I will adjust and then she quoted first Corinthians and said the greatest of these is love she said to me love will prevail and in large measure it has in my life so in some ways what I'm trying to to to for my own daughter is to follow the example that my own mother set for me and to allow love to prevail you said you think it might have been harder for your daughter to transition because you are trans what do you think being trans might've made it harder for your daughter as a high profile transgender activist I think I think I can take up a lot of the oxygen in the room and you know certainly within our house for a long time I was the kind of example of what it meant to be trance well my daughter's waving trances not identical to mine by any means so I think she had to find room to be not just the woman that she wants to be but also the kind of to have a transgender experience on her own terms rather than online the seven a transgender daughter now make you think about generational differences in terms of how the culture response to people who are trans and how transcendental T. our understanding of being trans has evolved over the years since since you started being coming aware of yourself as trans which was long before you actually transition absolutely I mean I think for me when I came out as trans I felt like I had to spend the better part of a year or two explaining to people what was going on I was the first transgender person that most people that I knew had ever met or even heard of I had to explain the situation and to some degree I think I spent a lot of time apologizing I kind of wanna ask people's permission which was something my daughter and I think her generation finds absurd I need to I mean the my daughter came out she announced it on Facebook and most of her friends were happy for her and that was kind of the end of the story and I think for for my daughter's generation being trance is a thing to celebrate it's a thing that's fun and which brings people a sense of of of joy at the variety of life and of the different ways there are of being human that was not my experience my experience was very much a feeling that it was something I had to explain and almost apologize for so it's funny I think about that line from lord of the rings where at the very end Frodo is leaving he says something like we set out to save the shire and the shire has been saved but not for me I hope that through my writing and I hope you'll forgive with sounds like the egotism of this but I I hope that through my writing into the advocacy that I've done it glad in in the work I've done in the new York times that some of that work has had an effect on making the world a little bit of an easier place for other transgender people and for the next generation in particular but for me you know life has been like this been hard I mean life is been joyful to I'm very lucky and I'm really happy but it's also been the entrances been really hard and there are times when I wish I could live in the world that my daughter lives in the world that some of this work has brought about now that you've been out as trans for over twenty years what do you say some of the fundamental differences between living life as a man you knew that you wanted to transition but you still in describing your past you describe yourself as having lived as a boy and as a man so what are some of the fundamental differences between having lived in as a man and living for over twenty years as an out woman beyond beyond beyond the physical just just in terms of how you see yourself how the world sees you how you make your way through life I know that's a really big question but I I'm sure I'm sure it's something you reflected on yeah I think there's a couple answers that I mean in some ways the biggest change is not going from male to female the biggest changes going from someone who has a secret to someone who doesn't have a secret and if you have a secret that is as profound as the question of who you are it's something that's gonna eat at you all the time so used to be I'd wake up in the morning and I think okay we're gonna do the guy thing again now and now I wake up in the morning and I don't think about it in a way gender has become something I think about a whole lot less I think it's not just the difference in male and female sturgeon string being young and being middle aged and maybe I'm the wrong person to observe those changes but I try to live my life with courage as best I can I'll be honest and say that cheers live very close to the surface now when they didn't didn't used to maybe it's estrogen maybe it's simply being older maybe it's having experienced you know you live long enough you end up with a lot of errors in your side whatever the reason it doesn't take much to get me weeping and quite often weeping just because something wonderful happened so my emotions are definitely closer to the surface but then everything was closer to the surface and not only because of hormones but because I'm living in the world with no secrets Jennifer Finney Boylan I want to thank you so much for talking with us I wish you and your family well thank you Terry and my love to everybody at W. H. Y. Y. and the Philadelphia area the place where I grew up in the station that I listen to it's been an honor to be here with you I really appreciate hearing that thank you so much Jennifer Finney Boylan is new memoir is called good boy my life in seven dogs after we take a short break a rock critic Ken Tucker will review a new album by Grammy winner do a lever that he describes as something fresh and much needed this is fresh.

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