Title: She’s Not There: a life in two genders
Author: Jennifer Finney Boylan
Publisher: Broadway Books
Copyright Date: October 2003
Number of Pages: 300
Reason for Reading: The topic intrigued me
Aunt Nora, what would you do if I told you I didn’t feel like myself, but like someone else? Well, not someone else, exactly, but myself, me as a girl. It’s the person everyone thinks I am that isn’t real.
What would she have said? Would she have put me on a stool and have me raise my arms into the air and take my soundings with a tape measure? Would she have taught me how to sew, how to make darts and pleats? Would she have shown me how to curl my hair, how to make cookies shaped like dogs, how to move through the world as a woman bearing an inconceivable grief? It’s all right, Jennifer. You just try not to think about it.
But I remained silent. I knew what she’d say.
JenniferBoylan, author, professor, musician, spouse, parent—plenty of different roles to play, plenty of different hats to wear. But the biggest hat of all was the one she wore every day, that of the body that betrayed her gender. She hoped that love would cure her and she did indeed find love, a wonderful wife, friends, children, but they were not, in the end, enough. She tried living life as the woman she felt herself to be, and it felt right. She ended up having sex reassignment surgery so that she could be a woman, body and soul.
WHAT I LIKED: Boylan comes across as honest and transparent with the reader. She wasn’t honest and transparent, however, with her friends and family for quite some time. I definitely got a sense of how difficult it all was for her. I also appreciated how difficult it was for her wife and best friend as they tried to figure out these new relationships. For Boylan they seemed the same, wife was still wife, and best friend was still best friend, because for Boyland nothing had changed except the body her female soul was living in. For her wife, however, things were agonizing. Her best friend also struggled because he could not help but relate to her differently as Jenny than as James.
It’s a good book, and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in the topic. Of course I want to know a lot more, but I could sit and talk with her for hours and not be satisfied. Boylan definitely leaves the reader hungry for more.