Book Review: "She's Not There:A Life in Two Genders"
When I first read She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders, it was not long after my wife had come to terms with being transgender and beginning her own journey of transition. I was grabbing for every single piece of transgender literature and was happy to find something non clinical that I could enjoy reading. What I love about Jennifer Boylan's book is the overall tone of a narrative, not simply a cut and dry recount of the coming out process.
She's Not There allows you to become invested in Jenny's life before conquering the heavy topic of gender and transition. She uses the real humor of everyday life as a counterbalance from the sometimes more serious tone of being a transgender individual finding themselves. We get to follow Jenny's life from adolescence to adulthood and watch the relationships around her change and evolve.
Originally published in 2003, the second edition comes ten years later. Included in this edition is new material including an afterword by Jennifer's long time friend Richard Russo, and a small exert from Diedre "Grace" Boylan. This extra material is a great addition to the story as they give a glimpse of how Jennifer's life has progressed. While there are a small collection of transgender memoirs, recollections of how it is to be transgender and have raised children and remained in a committed relationship are rare.
Call me a sap, but I enjoy stories with a happy ending, especially when those stories are true. While this second edition is not all rainbows and puppies, it is a realistic version of a healthy marriage. The new material rounds out the book well and addresses some of the topics that have come up in Jenny's life after becoming a public figure.
I recommend She's Not There to everyone, trans, ally and everything in between.While informative, it is also a enjoyable read overall as Jennifer Boylan writing has excellent flow. Jennifer is also the author of Stuck In the Middle: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders which was recently released. You can find out more information about the author at jenniferboylan.net