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Author Jennifer Boylan talks to the Penn State community about the transgender experience and how to be an ally

The webinar "A Conversation with Jennifer Boylan" was on Wednesday November 10, via Zoom.
Miriam Colvin
Miriam Colvin
The webinar "A Conversation with Jennifer Boylan" took place Wednesday, November 10, via Zoom.

Jennifer Boylan, a bestselling author and trans woman, spoke on a zoom webinar for the Penn State community Wednesday night. Boylan discussed trans rights, having empathy towards others, and lessons she’s learned from her life.

In her groundbreaking memoir, “She’s Not There: A Life of Two Genders,” Boylan talks about coming out to her wife after living as a man for years of marriage.

“If you have something secret in your heart, let it out. And then it can face the sun, and you will feel better,” Boylan said.

Boylan also read an OpEd she wrote for the New York Times titled “Bring Moral Imagination Back in Style.” In it, she describes a time she was on MSNBC’s HardBall with Chris Matthews. The show’s host asked a representative from the Family Research Council what bathroom Boylan should use.

“My existence, in his mind, constitutes some sort of hallucinatory threat to the women-folk," Boylan said. "In the end he didn’t have an answer for the question ‘Which restroom should Boylan use?’ because the idea that I am human and do occasionally need to use the restroom was one that hadn’t given him much concern.”

Boylan said it’s important to react to those who invalidate the transgender experience with love.

“We don’t go to heaven because we hate people who are easy to hate," Boylan said. "We go to heaven because we love people who are difficult to love. And who is more difficult to love than someone who’s experience of the world is radically different from your own.”

Boylan’s most recent book is “Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs.”

Miriam Colvin is a fall 2021 news intern for WPSU.