Jennifer Finney Boylan -- an accomplished writer, academic and activist -- reads her own essay about coming out as transgender to her two young sons. This is an encore episode.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Modern love the pod cast, supported by produced by the island at W B. You are faster. Oh, the from the New York Times and W B you are blessed, and this is modern love, the stories of love loss and redemption, I'm LISA Mullins in for Meghna Chakrabarti. The sixteen years ago, Jennifer Finney Boylan came out as transgender the family. She. waited with her wife and two young sons inevitably evolved as well, but not in the way you might think Jennifer Finney Boylan, the writer academic and activist, reads her own essay Mattie Joe
might work after all Last year of my father's life, he started the sleepwalk. I was twenty seven back in my. It has to help with his care in the middle it adheres heavy footsteps coming up to the third floor where I live, in a room locked with a deadbolt he'd crept through the hallway and open the door to the spare room, Diagonal across the hall from mine, and lie down in the guest bed after it starts snore, and I know it was ok at least until morning, when you wake up call it's an angry god, He'd say where am I am I doing here. He didn't know I was transsexual or if he did, he never said anything about it. a doubt, a hidden knew the word transsexual or transgender. An almost Shirley could not have explained the difference between the two, but that's ok for a long time. I couldn't figure it all out either
Once, though, when I was in high school, my father was clicking through channels on the tv and came upon the rocky horror picture show This is the scene where Frank and further as Watson around and fish net stockings singing. Well, you got caught with a flat we'll how about that. My father raised an eyebrow and said there is Jim your biggest fan for single terrified. Second, I feared that he knew exactly what was going on in my room when the door was locked was passed, well. I wondered that from the very beginning my father had understood the thing that had lain in my heart and which I had apparently so completely failed. The Conseil des kids later my two children and my wife and I were sitting around the kitchen table eating dinner. I was mid transition. My older son Zack gave me a look what I said. He was seven at the time.
We can't keep calling you daddy. He said if you're going to be a girl, that's too weird the whole bait and switch as I called it was nearly over it seemed like d been going on for years and in a sense it had since the days my father sleepwalking since I'd walked through the as a child in Pennsylvania, hoping I could Cured by love, praying to God to make me whole in the end the prayer was answered, although not in the way I expected, because of the love of my spouse, not to mention that of my boys. I found the courage somehow Who traversed the weird ocean between men and women to make them? it's not only from one sex to another, but from a place where my life was defined.
The secrets I kept to new one where almost everything I'd ever held in my heart could finally be spoken out loud Well, I said to my son's: my new name is Jenny. You could call me Jenny, Zack, just laughed derisively channel. That's the name you'd give a lady mule. I tried not to be hurt, okay, fine. What do you want to call me? The important thing boys said DD is that you pick something you're comfortable with thought it over. He was pretty good at naming things for, while we had a hermit crab named grabber later on, we owned a snake called biter. No, he said, let's call you Maddie, that's like half mom. And half daddy anyway. Ro at school memory, Maddie she's, nice, his younger,
either Sean said or Donnie we all laughed, even Sean laughed Dami, what a dumb name for a transgender parent after the hilarity died down. I nodded Mattie might work. I said Mattie might just work by the time my boys were in middle school. Our family began to seem pretty normal to us again. I will. going up. In the morning I made breakfast. I got Sean to practice, his french Horn and Zack, his three quarter, size, tuba deeds listen charge of dinner and shepherding the boys through their homework and code. Sean's traveling soccer team. After a time didn't. I even began to seem familiar to each other again and the things that I
changed in me seemed incredibly less important to dd than what had remained the same. Was she crazy to stay with me after I'd denounced my intention to transition? Maybe whenever the reason She decided that her life was better with me in it than not This makes her nuts fine haven't you. Way. She's nuts sweet, though in the fall we picked up in the winter we skied in summer we fished on long pond the time we forgot. There was anything extraordinary about our family and who knows maybe there's not. but even though we had now crossed that wide strange ocean of gender together and come to rest at last, and unsettling questions still haunted me usually at night, when I found myself wake in the wee hours. What kind of men would my boys
become having been raised by a father who became a woman at the clock ticking, as I lay in the dark thinking about my own, precarious boyhood, with its secrets and it's deadbolts, and I wonder how I was possibly going to help My son's become themselves I hear a voice in my heart demanding an answer to the same question. My harshest critics had asked of me what about the children? What about your boys and then it happen? Nearly two years ago, Zach came home from school one afternoon and told Didi in me. Did he needed to talk to us about something serious? He said he'd reached two very important personal decisions. Didn't I exchanged glances, we ve been expecting Something like this ever since my transition began years before, and even the
Both my boys have gotten this far without any apparent psychological trauma from having me as apparent we'd. Never stopped worrying, ok, said Zadok as we gathered in the living room, his brother wanted no part of whatever this was about and headed downstairs to the Xbox. First off I've decided he looked down and didn't I looked at each other uneasily. I've decided that I want to become what If you want to become I've decided, I want to become a pacifist. Do you mean I exchanged glances relieved, a pacifist. I said yes, I want to work for peace. There was a moment of silence. Then did he spoke well good, for you we're proud of. You will go online, see if we can find like some mark
it's we can all go to if you want yeah, I said cautiously, but you said you'd made Two decisions will, as the other one unit tell us about the other decision. Yeah. Ok, this is the hard won blushing. He looked at me. Many. I really do want to disappoint you. It's all right, son, I shot him a look, and I wondered briefly if my look was similar to the look my father had given me when we shared the glimpse of Frank, further dancing in his fishnets. Alright, he said. I think I want to stop playing the tuba and to start playing. the irish fiddle. That's it said Cindy.
I went over and hugged him. It's okay! I said you were great on tuba. I know you'll be great on fiddle heaved, a sigh he said why that was really hard. Sack knew how much I loved his tuba playing an apparently. He was afraid that if he made the big switch from Tupid a fiddle, somehow I might love him less. Needless to say, I emphasised I knew with that kind of I felt like, but what I did not know and would soon learn about, was the depth of Zach's empathy. For me,. a month later, he had to write an essay for school about an experience that a change them. This is what he wrote. An experience that changed me is that my that is transgender and became my Maddie a person who is trained. Under has a lifelong sense of being born into the wrong body. I was for when Matty began the transition
dont really remember the experience well because it was over nine years ago, once the transition had taken place. I was comfortably but I was worried what my friends would think. I kept it secret for a little bit, but eventually they all found out. They accepted it a lot better than I thought they would. Maddie is funny and wise. We go. Fishing biking. We talk a lot about anything that is on our minds night the spring Mattie and I had a fancy dinner at a restaurant in water will it. It's a special night. I wore a jacket and a tie. I had a steak. It made me feel like Maddie, and I were really close Maddie. she thought I was growing up and that she was proud of me Sometimes it's true that I wish I had a regular father, but only because Don't remember what it was like to have a normal family. Some
It's hard to have a family that is different, but most of the time I think the luckiest kid on earth. Even My family is different. I can't think of any way that life could be better. What about the boys? I had wondered what about my kids. When I could see the kids are all right, Joe four Finney Boylan reading her essay Maddie just might work. After all, it's been seven years since Jenny wrote that essay how's your we doing today, she'll tell us after the break
I love spelling my boyfriend and I often play spelling bee together by together I mean sitting next to each other playing individually and not cheating. Sometimes when I open up spelling bee- and I see that you have completed a few words on your own, I feel a little betrayed. Sorry. It may have happened again today. I have one friend who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words that I always get nervous that I sent it to my parents or something like that when my dad was like the first time together and I was out- I think I got it- see it J, a c k, P, o g jack. We hit the jackpot, panicked, yeah, Elrond, nice, I'm same as the sky. The digital puzzles editor for the New York Times. You can try spelling bee in all our games at n, one times dot com, slash games were
It's modern love, the podcast, I'm LISA Mullins in for Meghna Chakrabarti. Here's a postscript from Jennifer Finney Boylan. Well, that piece ran in two thousand nine, and so here we are seven years later and those little Boys are now college students, my wife, I are still together this year. Will Celebrate our twenty eighth year of marriage we've been together for twelve as husband and wife, and fifty years going on sixteen years now as wife and wife, and so our family is fantastic. When I came out, as Trance, I remember one of the last people in one of the hardest people I came out to was my mother and I finally came out to her and I started to cry and she put her arms around. and she was eighty five years old and eventual Angelica Christian, a conservative person republican. She got out of out
Her chair and she put her arms around me and she said I will never turn my back on my child and I said yeah you know when everyone finds out, I'm Daughter now won't that be an embarrassment and she said well quite frankly, yes, but I will adjust. and then she literally wiped the tears off my cheeks and said: love will prevail. so here I am a transgender woman, lesbian married to a straight cisgender, woman and armor. This is a traditional monogamous marriage. It's not an open relationship in some ways. We couldn't be more tradition. When I'm home, we see turn the fireplace around five thousand five by fifteen,
we'll have a glass of wine talk about alleys of the day, then we have a big dinner and then we get into bed with some books, and then we read you know, I can understand why people think we're so far out of the mainstream, with a life that crazy Jenny can joke about it, but it can be, tough to tune out people's concerns and opinions, especially when it comes to her children from the time I first came even people who said they were going to support me. They would kind of you know shake their heads Had leaned say well, you know, I feel sorry as those children, those poor boys, and you know it to me. It felt like a kind of secretly or maybe not so secretly aggressive way of blaming me for something that was in fact not my fault.
And it made me mad because it was as if people were saying you cannot be trance and be a good mother. You should be ashamed of yourself. One of the reasons that our family thrived is because we all pledged to stand by one another. My wife stood by me. We both stood by the children and the children stood by their parents. I do know this that having a father then became a woman help to make my son's into, men and has made them more compassionate dismayed, the more open hearted it is made them more, not just tolerant but embracing of diversity. In its many forms- and I couldn't be more grateful Jenny's mom once told her it's impossible to hate anyone whose story you know so still
retelling is key to her work as an advocate for transgender people and their families, especially as she dips her toe into reality, tv specifically, the E network documentary series. I am Kate, the show follows Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as the athlete Bruce Jenner, through her trans and from male to female supposed to be. On that show. I was supposed to be a consultant to try to help them get the stories right, but. I guess there was one day when I went to to talk to her and we had dinner together and they filmed it, and the next thing that I knew I was on the show and what think about it is that in some ways I think it's the most radical subversive show on television. You would never hear transgender women speaking in their own voices. Talking about discourse talking about
Family talking about identity and dating, and everything in between you would never hear that conversation anywhere else on tv. There are a lot of people who don't experience. What I experienced there are a lot of people who, when they come out as transgender, lose their children, whose wives and husbands leave them who are thrown out of their houses, who lose their jobs and who wind up homeless an unemployed, and it could have all come out very differently from me, and I am aware that all the time- but you know what everyone deserves- to live their lives in peace and with love- and I mean my story- should be the rule and not the exception. Jennifer, Finney Boylan, author and reader of this week's essay. She writes, for the opinion,
page of the New York Times her column, men and women appears every other Wednesday. Her latest is a novel, long black veil. Long after the more the.
I love spelling bee my boyfriend and I often play spelling bee together by together I mean sitting next to each other playing individually and not cheating. Sometimes when I open up spelling bee- and I see that you have completed a few words on your own, I feel a little betrayed sorry that may have happened again today. I have one friend who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words that I always get nervous that I sent it to my parents, or something like that was my dad was like the first party together and I wish her out. I think I got it see it J, a c k, p o g jack, but we hit the jackpot panicked, yeah, Elrond, nice, I'm same as earth sky. The digital puzzles editor for the New York Times. You can try spelling bee in all our games at n, one times dot com, slash games,
no a word from someone who's heard a wide range of stories on love and sexuality. Daniel Jones Jenny ME piece was post on the column about five years from when the column started, and I don't remember, receiving a single say from the point of view of a transgender writer. And to tell you the truth: Jenny boiled space didn't come in that way either I went out looking for it. There was about to be published an unsolved g, I contacted her and said I would love to run this piece. in modern love, what heard peace does so well? Is it normalizes expire that it's so easy for people to think of as being so abnormal and Jenny just to the great of taking a reader of any background and and saying like we're
but we're families for people with kids- and you just think like this- is such a loving family there. Gonna, be all right. Dad Jones editor, modern love for the New York Times next week on modern love, mirrors or Vienna. She me is a particularly temple I had known this, but that phrase it sounded hollow something. People like me, native New Yorkers, free range of his companions, could politely described as folklore. I don't in general, pray much less to fertility goddesses, I don't fall to my knees for anyone or anything except a reliable nanny. But I was on my knees and in meditation, and she me luck.
modern love, is the production of the New York Times and W B you are forced into NPR station is produced it an exit by Jessica, Albert John parading, Emory, seaports and and Caitlin O Keefe, the eye for the modern love podcast was conceived by LISA Tobin. Iris Adler, easy executive producer Daniel Jones is editor of modern love for the New York Times and adviser to the show music for the podcast, courtesy of a APL, I'm LISA, Mullins, Magna Carta Party will be back next week.
Transcript generated on 2022-04-16.