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The NY Times Is Lucky to Have Jennifer Finney Boylan — So Are We

The NY Times Is Lucky to Have Jennifer Finney Boylan — So Are We

Jennifer Finney Boylan

The trans writer's work continues to inspire straight, cisgender, and LGBTQ readers.

One of The Advocate's Champions of Pride, Jennifer Finney Boylan writes every other week in The New York Times, which according to her, makes her the "Luckiest Little Freelancer in All of Princess-town."

It's unprecedented to see a trans writer's name appear so frequently in the paper, and she's quick to point out that there's no major newspaper in the world with an openly trans columnist. (Technically, her position is classified as a contributing opinion writer.) She's supposed to write about LGBTQ issues and often does, but also, she says, she has a great amount of freedom.

"I also have found, after many years, that sometimes you open people's hearts by writing about the rest of your life -- like dogs and pizza," she says. This approach is precisely why Boylan, the author of 15 books, has been able to connect so deeply with her readers. Her 2003 best-selling memoir, She's Not There, is about being trans, but it's also about family, kids, community, making a marriage work, and discovering who you are. In other words, life stuff. The things we all go through.

The other component that makes Boylan's writing so special is also the piece I find most overlooked: her wit. The New York Times publishes a large number of writers as intelligent and thoughtful as she, but few are able to articulate it with such a sparkle and delight.

When discussing her marriage, the 60-year-old says that she identifies as pansexual, but also considers herself a "Deirdresexual, which means I'm attracted to my wife, Deirdre, to whom I've been married for 30 years: 12 as husband and wife, 18 as wife and wife."

"If a piano fell on her head, I don't know who'd I'd date next. Probably nobody," she says. "Although, just for the record two people I fantasize about are (1) The Brawny Towel Man, and (2) Smokey the Bear. Sometimes when I see pictures of Smokey wearing his loose blue jeans, bare-chested, and carrying his little shovel, I'm like all, Rrrrarrraw!"

For nine months out of the year, Boylan and her wife live in Belgrade Lakes, Maine, population 3,189. For the rest of the year, they live in New York City, population 8.6 million, where she is the writer in residence at Barnard College of Columbia University.

Wherever they are, she says her goal is to be an instrument for the love of God, the force that connects all of us. She's aware that "sounds all woo-woo," but she means it in the most pragmatic way possible.

"How do we approach other people with love?" she asks. "Sometimes, for me, it means writing stories. Sometimes it means shutting up and listening. Sometimes it means making my wife a nice cocktail and asking her about her day. It depends on the need."

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