She’s Not There, by Jennifer Finney Boylan

I’ve finally read another one of Laura’s books! Good job, Alison. And it was really good, so I’m glad I did.

She’s Not There is Jennifer Finney Boylan’s memoir of first being a transgendered person, and then finally going through with the surgery to make her a woman. What makes it especially interesting is that even though James Boylan had always known himself to be a woman, he had felt cured when he met his wife, Grace, and shoved that part of himself aside until well into their marriage. So when he realized he couldn’t live as a man anymore, it sort of threw the whole world upside down for everyone.

Boylan throws in a lot of anecdotes about being a boy who knows he’s a girl, but I was most interested in her stories of being a woman. I found myself nodding my head at her unconcious adoption of feminine conversational traits, like turning facts into questions (we talked about this a lot in my favorite gender studies class), and lamenting the fact that once Boylan started dressing as a woman she suddenly had to protect herself from jackasses who wanted to take advantage of her. And Boylan makes it clear how difficult it is to transition โ€” one thing I had never thought about was the fact that for a transgendered person, any sort of affectations that are too male or too female are perceived as the person’s bad impersonation of the other gender, even if those affectations in a cisgendered person would be accepted as a normal variation.

This book was really illuminating and I recommend it to anyone who has ever wondered just how transgendered people can know they are transgendered, because Boylan does a pretty good job explaining it.

Rating: 8/10

See also:
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Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

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One thought on “She’s Not There, by Jennifer Finney Boylan

  1. Laura Ansley says:

    Yay, I'm glad you liked it! I completely agree about how it completely changes and enhances how you think about transgendered people. Small little details that are no big deal for a woman become such an ordeal for Jenny.

    Now you only have about 15 more of my books to read. ๐Ÿ™‚

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