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Jennifer Finney Boylan

Author of the bestselling memoir She's Not There, President of PEN America, and celebrated LGBTQ activist

Jennifer Finney Boylan at the Chicago Humanities Festival
  • About Jennifer Finney Boylan

    Jennifer Finney Boylan is the author of sixteen books and the inaugural Anna Quindlen Writer in Residence at Barnard College of Columbia University. Her column “Men & Women” appears on the op/ed page of the New York Times. After serving as Vice President of the PEN America Board of Trustees, she was elected as President of PEN America in late 2023.

    From 2011 to 2018 she served on the Board of Directors of GLAAD, the media advocacy group for LGBT people worldwide. She was co-chair of GLAAD’s board of directors from 2013-17.

    Boylan was a consultant and cast member for I AM CAIT, the docu-series about Caitlyn Jenner that debuted on the E! network in July of 2015; and also served as a consultant to the Amazon series TRANSPARENT. She has also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Kinsey Institute for Research on Sex, Gender, and Reproduction.

    Boylan’s 2003 memoir, She’s Not There: a Life in Two Genders, was the first bestselling work by a transgender American. A novelist, memoirist, and short story writer, she is also a nationally known advocate for civil rights. Boylan has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey ShowLive with Larry King; the Today Show,the Barbara Walters Special, NPR’s Marketplace and Talk of the Nation. She has also been the subject of documentaries on CBS News’ 48 Hours and The History Channel.

    Her most recent book is Mad Honey, a New York Times bestseller she coauthored with Jodi Picoult. Mad Honey is a riveting novel of suspense, an unforgettable love story, and a moving and powerful exploration of the secrets we keep and the risks we take in order to become ourselves. The audiobook narratored by Finney Boylan and Picoult has been nominated for the 2023 Audie Awards.

    Two other current projects are Falcon Quinn and the Bullies of Greenblud, an anti-bullying YA project; and the anthology of women writing about home, This is the Place.

    She lives in New York City, and in Belgrade Lakes, Maine, with her wife, Deedie, and her two sons, Zach and Sean.

  • Speaking Topics

    She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders

    Designed for colleges, high schools, and other educational venues, this talk opens with a short reading from Boylan’s bestselling memoir, She’s Not There, as well as the anthologyIt Gets Better, and then opens up into a discussion of gender and society. The talk touches upon Transgender 101 (a brief overview of the wide range of gender expression), and then moves outward to address the embracing of diversity in its many forms. The talk concludes with a period of questions and answers with the audience. This presentation has been given at educational venues across the country, including Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, Cornell, Vanderbilt, Duke, Wesleyan, Middlebury, and Amherst; as well as secondary schools such as Northfield Mount Hermon, Columbus Prep, Phillips Exeter Academy, the Mountain School, and a consortium of Philadelphia area private schools including Haverford, Shipley, Agnes Irwin, and Episcopal Academy. The average running time is 50 minutes, although it has been as short as 20 minutes and as long as an hour and a half, depending upon the sponsor’s needs. (A special version of this talk has been developed for elementary and middle grade students; this has been given at the Little Red Schoolhouse in Manhattan, as well as the Messalonskee Middle School in Maine, among other venues.)

    Diversity and the Workplace

    Designed for corporations and small businesses, this talk is an educational tool for human resources managers and others hoping to make a place of employment a more open, knowledgeable, and respectful environment for employees of every stripe. This talk opens with an entertaining and thoughtful reading from Boylan’s published work; it then addresses the variety of human experience, with particular attention (if the sponsor so desires) to issues of sexuality and gender. With specific suggestions on making the workplace a more safe and productive environment for all employees, this talk is useful for managers hoping to expand their employees’ knowledge base about diversity, as well as specifically providing insight on making a transgender employee’s transition smooth, both for the employee as well as those around him or her. The talk concludes, if the sponsor wishes, with a dynamic question and answer session. This talk has been delivered at, among other venues, a series of workshops at Spectrum Health Care in Grand Rapids, Michigan; as part of “leadership grand rounds” at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; at the law firm of Weil Goethals in Manhattan; and as the keynote of the Leading Diversity Conference as part of the Richmond Human Resources Conference. Average running time is 50 minutes, but is adjustable depending on the sponsor’s needs.

    “Does This Gender Make Me Look Fat?” An evening of identity and imagination with Jennifer Finney Boylan

    Designed for a wide range of audiences—colleges, businesses, bookstores and book clubs, charity fundraisers, and celebrations of the arts—this presentation is a set of readings from Boylan’s published work, including the bestseller She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders, as well as her new book, Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenthood in Three Genders. This versatile reading includes short readings, an overview of diversity and transgender issues, and audience discussion. It has been presented in venues as formal as the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and the Wisconsin Book Festival, and as informal as bookstores from coast to coast. Average running time is 25 minutes, but is adjustable depending on the sponsor’s needs.

  • Video

  • Praise for Jennifer Finney Boylan


    After reading She’s Not There, my students asked if we could bring Jenny Boylan to campus. What a huge impact she had on Creative Writing students; Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies students; and students at the Pride Center as well as a the general campus community during her evening reading and commentary. Bringing Jenny to OSU was inspired by students and she was inspirational for them during her visit.

    The Graduate School, Oregon State University

    Jennifer Finney Boylan does not disappoint.  Jenny’s story has great value and meaning and keeps the audience entertained.  A vibrant storyteller, her message can be described as poignant, hilarious and not to be missed. A gifted speaker, Jenny has a riveting story to share with us.  As a college professor, she relates well to college students. We are very proud to have hosted Jennifer Finney Boylan on our campus. The Clark University community is deeply committed to meaningful diversity and inclusion. Our students recognize that her message went beyond transgender issues. Jenny is an inspiration.

    Office of Intercultural Affairs, Clark University

    Praise for Mad Honey

    A spellbinding yarn . . . atmospheric . . . riveting . . . Overall, it’s a fruitful collaboration.

    Publishers Weekly

    Compelling . . . A well-paced story that highlights several timely issues, with a stimulating courtroom trial that makes it worth reading.

    Kirkus Reviews

    Gripping . . . This timely and absorbing read will make readers glad these two powerful writers decided to collaborate.

    Booklist (starred review)

    Alternatingly heart-pounding and heartbreaking . . .This collaboration between two best-selling authors seamlessly weaves together Olivia and Lily’s journeys, creating a provocative exploration of the strength that love and acceptance require.

    The Washington Post

    Praise for Long Black Veil

    In the tradition of Donna Tartt, Jennifer Finney Boylan has crafted a thriller that’s intellectual, existential, and compulsively readable. If change is the only constant in life, how much can a person reinvent himself and still be the same? Long after the last page is turned, you will be thinking about the nature of identity, the pull of the past, and whether you can ever outrun the person you used to be.

    Jodi Picoult, New York Times-bestselling author of Small Great Things and Leaving Time

    Boylan, who has reaped praise in recent years with memoirs exploring her transgender experience, doesn’t miss a storytelling beat in her first novel as she blends atmospheric elements of a Shirley Jackson–like haunting, a secret-laden murder tale featuring an ensemble cast, and an eye-opening glimpse of the complex choices transgender people face. This crime debut is certain to attract a genre-blurring following, but recommendations to fans of Erin Kelly’s The Poison Tree and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History are sure bets.

    Booklist, starred

    Praise for Stuck in the Middle with You

    [A] warm, engaging memoir...This informal investigation and her touchingly funny and always candid story work together to reveal the book’s ultimate truth: that ‘to accept the wondrous scope of gender is to affirm the vast potential of life in all its messy, unfathomable beauty’...Genuinely insightful through and through.


    Boylan illuminates diverse family relationships and the many ways families operate fluidly on a seemingly never-ending spectrum. This unique and giving book has tremendous resonance.

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  • Jennifer Finney Boylan travels from Belgrade, ME

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