Thursday, March 03, 2011

She was there

Today started off fairly normally and then I ended up at dinner with Jennifer Finney Boylan.

Back up: I should say that meeting her wasn't entirely unexpected--I have after all planned to take my class along to hear her talk for, lo, all of two months. Jenny is amazing. She is the author of She's not There Anymore and the forthcoming Stuck in the Middle With You (her schtick--she says, self-deprecatingly ignoring her writing skills and her jaw-dropping experiences --is naming her books after bad pop music).

Trans experience is something that students frequently don't understand; a concept that becomes, and stays, intellectual--and so something that you just get or just can't wrap your head around. My admiration for Boylan has been mostly on a gut level--mostly for her courage and her sense of comedic timing, so I was so happy to see these translated into a great *show*. Jenny worked the audience: making them laugh with her, at her, making jokes about them, getting them to care about her, getting them to extend that interest and affection to all trans people, to all people. It was breathtakingly, heart-achingly beautiful.

She is so articulate about growing up as male and female also, parenting as father--and now--mother, that my question had to be about the way her parenting would differ if she were parenting daughters instead of sons. She knelt beside me in the audience as I put my question out (smirking, "this is just between us") and gave my question way more attention and honesty than it deserved.

So, when I was invited as a last-minute addition to the dinner table, I couldn't wait to accept. My students were all starry-eyed at the end of the talk; I can't wait to debrief with them on Tuesday.


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