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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview with Author and Transgender Jennifer Finney Boylan
Aired May 25, 2005 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, a prime-time exclusive, Jennifer Finney Boylan's children call her Maddy, as in Mommy and Daddy. You see, when they were born, Jennifer was James Boylan. But after nearly 43 years as a man, James Boylan, husband and father, went under the knife to fulfill his deepest desire and become a woman. And today, Jennifer Finney Boylan is still together with the same woman who James married.
They're both here for the hour. Take us inside life before and after sex change surgery. And they'll take your calls. It's a prime- time exclusive. It's next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Jennifer Finney Boylan wrote a book. It's now in trade paperback, a national best seller titled "She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders." Jennifer Finney Boylan is the male to female transsexual. She's professor of English at Colby College in Maine. We'll meet her wife -- is that the correct term?
JENNIFER FINNEY BOYLAN, MALE TO FEMALE TRANSSEXUAL: That's good -- partner.
KING: The bottom of the (INAUDIBLE). What is the difference between transgender and transsexual?
J. BOYLAN: Yeah. I understand how people would get confused, because where would people learn about this. Transgender is like an umbrella term, that includes a lot of different people. A transsexual is a person like me, someone born in one body with a lifelong conviction that they are the other sex. And so that's one kind of transgendered person.
KING: Is it more male to female than female to male?
J. BOYLAN: It's closer to 50-50 than you think. I think there's slightly more people born male who become woman.
KING: The difference between what you were and homosexuality is...
J. BOYLAN: Is night and day. If you're gay or lesbian, that's about who you love. If you're transsexual, that's about who you are. It's a question of identity. And it really doesn't have anything to do with being gay. I know people get that confused, but in fact it's a whole different issue.
Larry: So a gay man is not a woman. He's a gay man who likes other men but he's still a man.
J. BOYLAN: That's right.
KING: Same for a gay woman.
J. BOYLAN: That's right.
KING: You were a woman in a man's body?
J. BOYLAN: That's right. And that's the easiest way to think about it. One of the hard things about this is that if your not transgendered, if you don't have this conviction, it just seems crazy. And the most important thing that you need to understand is imagination. You're being asked to imagine something that is never probably in your life ever seemed to be a problem before.
KING: Christine Jorgenson was the first famous person.
J. BOYLAN: The first one only.
KING: And I knew her and Renee Richards. All right. Take me back. You're a kid.
J. BOYLAN: I'm a kid.
KING: You're a boy.
J. BOYLAN: And my earliest memory is of seeing...
KING: Where did you grow up?
J. BOYLAN: I grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs in a great family. But I always felt that I was a girl. I remember my mother ironing my father's shirts, and she said -- I must have been 2 or 3 at the time. She said, one day you'll wear shirts like this. And I just thought, well, why would I wear shirts like my father's? So it's...
KING: You never felt like a boy or a man?
J. BOYLAN: I never really did. There was always something a little different about me. Although, of course, my sense of what it meant to be a boy or a girl was something that got more sophisticated over time. When you're a child, what do you know? Not a lot.
KING: Were you attracted to other men?
J. BOYLAN: No. No. Because my whole world really revolved around girls, although I think as a guy, as a teenager, I was certainly kind of an odd date.
J. BOYLAN: Because I would kind of get together with girls and I'd ask them questions like, well, how do you get your hair to do that? Or what's it like to have breasts? And my dates would kind of look at me like, well, what do you want to know that for? KING: What about sexual attraction?
J. BOYLAN: My world always revolved around women, but certainly my sexuality was different from -- certainly from that of other men. I think women were like, you know, a warm fire in a cold room to me. I was drawn to them.
KING: Would you sleep with them?
J. BOYLAN: I did. But often my sense was that I wished that they were a mirror rather than another human being.
KING: One could guess that's horrible?
J. BOYLAN: One would be right. It's -- and again it's a very hard thing to imagine if you don't have it. But if you do have this condition, which is neurological in its genesis. It's worth noting that it is not a choice. It is not something that you up and do because you're trying to be clever, it has to do with -- among other things, the structure of the hypothalamus.
KING: The what?
J. BOYLAN: The hypothalamus in the brain, the seat of the endocrine system. So if you have this sense of yourself, which is very deep rooted, it's with you constantly. And it is not something that you can snap yourself out of.
KING: What's it called?
J. BOYLAN: The part of the brain? It's the bed nucleus of the stria terminalus of the hypothalamus.
KING: How common?
J. BOYLAN: There are not good statistics. What I've heard, it's about 1 in every 350 people born male. So about 30,000 or more people born male in this country who have already had the surgery, which I believe makes it more common than multiple sclerosis, makes it more common than cleft palate. So, it's a relatively common thing.
KING: Why did you get married?
J. BOYLAN: Well, what I'd always prayed for was that love would cure me. I always hoped that if I were loved deeply enough, it would get me out of myself. And in fact, that prayer was answered.
KING: You felt in love with Dierdre.
J. BOYLAN: I fell in love with Dee Dee.
KING: Where did you meet?
J. BOYLAN: We knew each other at college in Wesleyan in Connecticut. But we started dating after college. And when we fell in love, it really was as if all of the feelings that always had kind of died away. And what I wanted to be was to be with her.
But it wasn't very long after our marriage. It was a good few years into our marriage that the feelings returned. Now I had two problems. One was being transgendered, but the other more serious problem was having a secret from someone that I loved.
KING: You fathered how many children?
J. BOYLAN: Two. Two boys. And we're all still together.
KING: How old are they?
J. BOYLAN: They're now 9 and 11. They're great boys.
KING: Did you enjoy being a father? Do you call yourself a father?
J. BOYLAN: Well, my children call me Maddy, which was the word that they came up with, combining mommy and daddy. When they coined that term, the younger brother quickly said or we can use Dommy. But Maddy is the term...
KING: Are your parents living?
J. BOYLAN: My mother is living and she is -- I'll tell you what, she's a conservative person, Republican woman in the Philadelphia area, who is -- her love for me has never wavered. She's been a tremendous source of strength and love in my life.
KING: No brothers and sisters?
J. BOYLAN: I have one sister who lives in the UK actually. That I'm not in touch with right now.
KING: Is she OK -- by OK does she...
J. BOYLAN: She's not my biggest fan. But...
KING: Angry at you?
J. BOYLAN: Well, you know, we haven't really spoken. But she -- and I think I'd prefer not to talk about her since she...
KING: How did you tell Dierdre? I remember the movie "Normal." Tom Wilkenson got an Academy Award nomination. It was brilliant. It was about a man in his 40s who comes home to his wife one day...
J. BOYLAN: Well, I would not have won an Academy Award. I came out to her in little stages, actually. And I think people look for this one kind of transforming day when I came out and I said, that's it. I'll change my name to Tiffany Chiffon. But in fact, I first told her would it be OK if I cross dressed once in a while? Would it be OK -- and I think her sense was that fantasy is a good thing. She didn't see that it would threaten our marriage. But it was really one of those things that once the door was open, all these feelings came coming through. KING: We'll take a break and be right back. We will meet Dierdre at the bottom of the hour. We'll be including your phone calls. The book is now in trade paperback. "She's Not There: A Life In Two Genders." Widely praised. Anna Quinlan said a very funny memoir of growing up confused. And a very smart consideration of what it means to be a woman. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J. BOYLAN: It's true that my children don't have a father or a father figure. And that's not a small thing. But on the other hand, they do have me. And I think I'm a very good parent. They certainly see a lot more of me than I saw of my own father. And we do most of the things that families do together. I think a lot of time we forget that there's anything different about us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEIRDRE BOYLAN, WIFE: I do miss having a husband, and being a husband and wife. I miss our physical relationship. In many ways, particularly now, sort of five years down the road, most of the things that I loved about Jim are still present in Jenny. The things that aren't there are the most male things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And we'll hear from Dierdre herself at the bottom of the hour.
When you finally make this decision that you want to change- change, how did does Dierdre -- by the way, how was your sex life?
J. BOYLAN: Back in the day? It was great.
KING: It was great?
J. BOYLAN: Absolutely.
KING: Frequent. You had a good time?
J. BOYLAN: Yes, yes.
KING: You were -- would you want...
J. BOYLAN: Yes, thanks for reminding me. It was great, yes.
KING: How do you explain to her that, I want to do a sex change?
J. BOYLAN: Well, again, Dee Dee is a therapist and a social worker, so these issues weren't entirely new to her. I think she grasped -- in some ways she may have grasped earlier than I did what was going to happen. Again, I didn't announce it one day, this is what's going to happen. This is where I'm going. I said, well, I feel like I'm been crushed by these issues I've been facing my whole life and I want to get back into therapy. But - so, it was -- again, it was a very, very gradual process. We didn't know where we were going to wind up. I mean...
KING: Why not get divorced?
J. BOYLAN: Well, that was something we thought about. But, it's also true that in the end, we have chosen to stay together because we love each other.
KING: So you are celibate?
J. BOYLAN: We are. We live in a relationship that does not have that kind of intimacy.
KING: But Dierdre just said in the clip that she misses...
J. BOYLAN: Well, yes, of course, she misses it. I miss it, too. But the fact of the matter is that we could both start life anew, if -- and that's a choice. But instead we've chosen to stay together, because the things that we share and that we keep are more important than what we've lost.
KING: Do you have any type of sex, play sex?
J. BOYLAN: No, not really. It's more of a relationship of sisters, I'd have to say, and I guess there are all kinds of love in this world. One of them is the love of passion and intimacy and sex. But another kind of love is the love of devotion, which is a long time -- a lifelong commitment to someone else. Many people that I know, if they could only have one, would choose devotion over passion.
KING: Where did you do the surgery?
J. BOYLAN: In Wisconsin, in fact. Dr. Eugene Shrang (ph).
KING: The hospital?
J. BOYLAN: Yes.
KING: And, is he a -- what kind of specialist?
J. BOYLAN: He's a plastic surgeon. There's just a handful of people that do this in this country, and he's considered one of them.
KING: Very expensive?
J. BOYLAN: Yes, it was over $20,000.
KING: Not insurance-covered?
J. BOYLAN: No, absolutely not, although a new case in Connecticut recently allowed that people can write this off on their taxes as a medical expense.
KING: Without being too graphic or be as graphic as you wish -- and she says the book was funny, there must be funny parts to it. What happens in the surgery? In the surgery.
J. BOYLAN: What does it involve? Well, I'll tell you, I think in some ways I like to just -- the thing is, people fixate on the surgery.
KING: Well, because we're all fascinated with what happens.
J. BOYLAN: I know, but the thing is, the surgery is not the most important part. The surgery is like the day that you go to get a divorce. It's like a day -- it's like a judge that you do not know makes it official in the eyes of the law. But the most important thing in this is everything that happens before that, dealing with family, with friendships and with changing your life. The surgery is -- I mean, I think we overemphasize the surgery just because it's so -- it seems so scary.
KING: Right, what is it...
J. BOYLAN: But what I can tell you is, that I felt like the luckiest person in the world when I woke up with the right body and it all looked just like it was supposed to.
KING: So, you felt like you were now you.
J. BOYLAN: The woman I'd always felt to be.
KING: You had a part missing, though?
J. BOYLAN: No, I had a part that I didn't have before. I mean, I had...
KING: Don't they remove the penis?
J. BOYLAN: In fact, in fact, no. It's -- you really want to know all this?
J. BOYLAN: The unit, the area which in Ireland we call down below, is essentially inverted, and that's used to create the new vagina, the new clitoris and the works, and you know, I'll tell you this much. I've been to two doctors since the surgery who did not know and could not tell and it all feels like it's supposed to feel, too.
There's a wonderful author named Kate Horensteen (ph) who is also transgendered who uses the phrase the plumbing works and so does the electricity.
KING: Does it feel different?
J. BOYLAN: Absolutely, and, I mean, in some ways, not just the body but the effect of hormones changes the way you occupy your body. I mean, there's a way in which I'm -- things kind of get under my skin now. I feel much more vulnerable in some ways.
KING: You're a woman.
J. BOYLAN: I mean, used to be, things that would just kind of bounce off me. Things would kind of irritate -- you know, things would, you know -- I would be able to ignore a lot of things that bothered me. But now, you know, if I -- I can get very irritated by little things. And I'm much more -- tears are much closer to the surface. So...
KING: What about having breasts?
J. BOYLAN: Oh, that's good.
KING: Does that feel good?
J. BOYLAN: Well, the important thing is that they feel -- my body feels like it's mine. That's the important thing. It's, you know -- you don't do this as part of some sexual escapade. You do it in order to become yourself.
KING: It's a relief.
J. BOYLAN: It's absolutely a relief, and now I have what everybody else has, which is the ability to wake up in the morning and not have to think about what gender I am.
KING: And how about going back to teaching? They accepted you as the...
J. BOYLAN: Yes, in fact, my college, Colby College in Waterville, Maine -- everyone was incredibly supportive. My students were -- I mean, I'll be honest, I think it was probably the best gossip in the world for a few months, but my students don't really care about my life. My students want to know if I'm smart. Do I know anything? Can I help them learn what they need to learn?
KING: Anything you miss about being a man?
J. BOYLAN: Uh, pockets. I miss having clothes with pockets in them. That most of my clothes now, except for blue jeans.
KING: What about ball games with the boys?
J. BOYLAN: Well, I still do that, though. I mean, everything that I did before that I -- or almost everything that I did before, I still do. And I never -- I still don't know how to throw a football. I never knew how to do that. I mean, I was never that kind of a guy anyway, but what I have kept is much more important than what I've lost.
KING: When people saw you as a guy when you were 21, 22, would they say you were effeminate? J. BOYLAN: I don't think so. I mean, I wasn't -- I definitely wasn't -- I mean, I wasn't the kind of classic, you know, guy's guy. I was sensitive. I was a writer, and an English teacher. So, you know...
KING: But you weren't foppish.
J. BOYLAN: I wasn't, you know, effeminate. No, I don't think so.
KING: We'll take a break. We'll include a few calls for Jennifer, and then Dierdre will join us. We'll talk to both of them and take calls for them together. The book is now out in paperback, trade paperback, "She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders." Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J. BOYLAN: Well, if it's a work day, I've got to put myself together like most other women my age. More often than not that means makeup. It also means thinking about what I'm wearing a little bit more than I used to as a guy, but sometimes it's fun. You know, there's a certain pleasure in looking good or looking as good as I can at 46.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J. BOYLAN: One reason I think Deidre has chosen to stay, and it is her choice, you know she's not being held hostage by me or by anybody. I think one reason she's chosen to stay is because she still sees in me the person that she always loved. And we have a good family. And people think we don't have a good family, you know, I just suggest they look around.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's take a call for Jennifer Finney Boylan. Philadelphia, hello.
CALLER: Hi, I'm a therapist and have worked with transgendered and transsexuals all of my professional life over 30 years, and I've written a book about it. And I think Jennifer's a wonderful example and has a right to live her life loving and productively. And I have a number of clients who have done what Jennifer has done. But I really would hope that at age 42, she would want to live more fully. And I also have done research showing that orgasm is possible in transsexuals. And I would love to see her include that as part of her repertoire. And also show maybe a different example of woman or maybe marital partner for those two boys that she's got.
KING: How do you respond? J. BOYLAN: I guess it's important for me to say that I'm not -- I don't feel that I'm emblematic transgender person. There are a lot of different stories out there. And I have avoided kind of commenting on public policy and really anything like that. My sense is that I'm an English teacher and a storyteller, and I wrote this book not in order to be America's transgendered spokesmodel. But in order to tell some stories and to -- I guess to some degree, to set the example of, you know, the life that we have, which is a life that I think does seem familiar.
KING: But she is saying you can experience more. For example, you can experience orgasm. If you can and the therapist can help you...
J. BOYLAN: Well, I have experienced orgasm, you know, privately. But I'm in a marriage right now. And I'm married, and I take my marriage seriously.
KING: So why then not experience with my wife?
J. BOYLAN: Well, my partner is not a lesbian, though. And she -- that's a line that she doesn't want to cross, and I respect that. If she has accepted me as a woman and that is a huge thing, but I have to accept her as a straight woman who doesn't want to be with another woman. So...
KING: Ames, Iowa. Hello.
CALLER: Yes, I am the incoming coordinator of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Student Services at a university. And I'm wondering what Jennifer feels the universities can be doing to make the campus environment more welcoming for transgender students?
J. BOYLAN: I'd have to say the most important thing that we all need is information. People are scared of this issue. People are -- people think it's something that it's not. And the first thing that we all need is knowledge. So having transgender speakers come to campuses. Having a good selection of books on gender in the library, all that helps to make this something that will seem familiar to people rather than something that's strange.
KING: How did the children react?
J. BOYLAN: My kids are, I think, doing quite well. They're...
KING: You were dressing as a woman for a year before the surgery.
BOYLAN; Well, yes.
KING: So they saw you as a woman before you became one.
J. BOYLAN: Yes, and remember it was very gradual around them -- my transition. It wasn't like one day I waltzed in in sequins. The first time they saw me completely as a woman, they really didn't notice the difference. We try to look out for the children, and to let them know that they're loved. And that the fact that I've changed hasn't meant that my love for them is any different.
KING: Kids at school tease them?
J. BOYLAN: No, not at all. Hasn't happened, not yet.
KING: That's surprising.
J. BOYLAN: Well, again, we worked hard, though. We worked with our wonderful school district in Maine and their friends and their friends' parents. It's -- I mean, it took a lot of planning. You know, middle school lies ahead. And I -- you know, my guess is that things might get harder before they get easier. But you know, again, if you have a family -- a family is not a -- a family is not about a race to have the least number of troubles. A family is about looking out for each other and dealing with...
KING: Who should not do this?
J. BOYLAN: Well, I don't know that that's for me to determine. I think people should know that this isn't something to be done casually. And it is going to affect everyone in your life. And I think people should -- who proceed with this should know that you're not the only person in transition.
KING: And you miss pockets.
J. BOYLAN: I do.
KING: We'll take a break and come back. And Deirdre, who is your wife.
J. BOYLAN: Indeed.
KING: And that is a legal -- still a legal marriage?
J. BOYLAN: It's still a legal marriage. We say partner or spouse now, because seeming...
KING: But you'd be covered by all the laws of married couples?
J. BOYLAN: Yes, indeed.
KING: Including divorce?
J. BOYLAN: If we were to divorce, I can only remarry a man. But in this country marriage means weddings, actually. Since we were married legally, we may remain legally married as long as we wish.
KING: We'll take a break and come back. And we'll meet Deirdre and talk with Deirdre and then take some more phone calls. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
D. BOYLAN: The boys are really bright, they're also -- I think that the primary thing that people don't think about when they consider a transition like this is that they have kept the two people that they are the most important to them in their world are still here. When they notice it is when other kids sort of say, where's your dad? Or why do you have two woman at the end of the drive waiting for the bus? But for the most part, it hasn't been traumatic for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE.
One quick note, next week is our anniversary week. This program will be on the air 20 years on CNN, same time as CNN celebrates its 25th year. And our guest next week will include Dick Cheney and Mr. President and Mrs. Bush from Kennebunkport, Maine, and president Bill Clinton, and Dan Rather, and Barbara Walters interviewing me, and Mark Geragos and a special rebroadcast of an interview with Billy Graham. All that coming next week on LARRY KING LIVE.
Jennifer Finney Boylan is with us, the male to female transsexual, best selling author of "She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders." She's professor of English at Colby College in Maine. And her wife is Dierdre Boylan. She is called Grace in the book. And is a clinical social worker. Why do you call her grace?
J. BOYLAN: Well, it seemed like a good euphemism. I originally wanted to give everyone a pseudonym. But she's a very graceful person.
KING: The obvious, why did you stay?
D. BOYLAN: Why did I stay? There are probably lots of reasons for that. But one of the things that I thought about recently as we've been talking about this is that simultaneous -- we wanted to keep our family together. That was the bottom line. That it seemed important for the kids' security to keep their world stable as long as we could.
And simultaneously with Jenny's transition, my sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. And one of the things that happened in that was that I learned -- it threw into great relief the difference between losing someone forever to cancer and someone changing genders. And I also really need Jenny's support, her psychological support and her emotional support and logistical support to stay with the children when I was traveling 500 miles away to be with my sister. And she did that. She was there for me, and we lived through that loss together.
KING: She died?
D. BOYLAN: She did. She did. Katie died just a few months before Jenny had surgery, actually. And there's a way in which that experience -- I couldn't leave then. There was no way I could have left then.
KING: You were there for Jenny's surgery? D. BOYLAN: I was.
KING: Present at the surgery?
D. BOYLAN: Well, not in the operating room. But present, yes.
KING: And Richard Russo who wrote the afterward, he was also?
J. BOYLAN: Yes, he was. And my joke about Russo is that ten years ago, Richard Russo and I shared a little office at Colby College. And one afternoon he said, tell you what, in nine years one of us will win the Pulitzer Prize for literature and one of us will become a woman. So, we flipped a coin and he lost.
KING: Don't you miss sexual love?
D. BOYLAN: Yes. I do. I do.
KING: So you knew you had given that up?
D. BOYLAN: I guess I didn't -- again, our journey was a gradual one. And there was, you know, a time when I really didn't want to have sex anymore. And as with -- with Jenny, with a woman. And as we've gone -- gotten to a place we're really more confident and stable and secure in our marriage and recognizing that our marriage, we want our family to continue, we really -- I love the life that I have. But what we've lost is the physical intimacy. Because that's sort of the boundary that I have drawn. The thing...
KING: Are you attracted to men?
D. BOYLAN: Yes.
KING: How do you deal with it?
D. BOYLAN: The same way anybody in a marriage does. You know, you can think about who you might be with. You can admire attractive people. You can flirt sometimes. But at this point in our lives we're still married, we're still committed to each other and so that's...
KING: How are the boys dealing with it?
D. BOYLAN: I think the boys are dealing with things really well.
KING: She said no problem at school.
D. BOYLAN: No problem at school. No, no problem. I mean, this started when they were quite young. And they were also at a stage in their lives when they really don't have any interest in sex and sexuality. They don't want to know. And for them, I think the thing that's most important is that the two most important people in their lives are still the two most important people in their lives.
KING: Are you the father?
J. BOYLAN: Well, as I said, we say Maddy now.
KING: No, but I mean, do you do the fatherly things?
D. BOYLAN: That's a good question.
J. BOYLAN: I do mow the lawn.
KING: That's what I mean, mow the lawn.
J. BOYLAN: But I think we've always kind of shared a lot of those things.
D. BOYLAN: I'm a lot more athletic than Jenny is. So I throw balls and do sports with them. I'm the soccer coach in our family.
KING: You both take them to ball games.
D. BOYLAN: Yes.
KING: What's the most difficult part for you?
D. BOYLAN: That's a hard question. I think the loss of physical intimacy is probably the most difficult part.
KING: What's the hardest for you? Same thing?
J. BOYLAN: Yes, probably. It's also knowing that the people that I love -- I've made their lives more complex. But if I could have spared them this, I would have. I mean, people often talk about how I chose to become a woman, or how I decided -- and believe me if I could have chosen otherwise I would have. Because we all want to protect the people we love. But this is a fact.
KING: Take a break and more some phone calls. Don't go away.
KING: I believe I've been saying husband and wife. You're partner and spouse, right?
J. BOYLAN: That's sounds better.
KING: Partner and spouse, OK.
CALLER: This is for Jennifer. And for you, Larry, I want to tell you thank you for giving transgendered people and boys and not giving them the Jerry Springer. We need the voice to be able to speak. I'm an educator. I'm still in the closet and transgendered. I have been for over 20 years. Jenny, how did you get your college or your school to accept you so you could be who you actually are? I still am not who I am because I cannot be who I really am.
J. BOYLAN: Well, first of all, my heart goes out to you. I think each case is individual, and I think that I was able to find support at my college simply because I'd been there for 10, 15 years by that time. I was -- this is going to sound immodest, but I was -- I guess I was pretty well-respected there and a lot of support among the faculty.
I was always a good teacher. I think I am still a good teacher, and I think -- this is not just the teaching profession, but for any body who's going through this, if it's clear that you are still going to be you and still do your job well, I would hope that that would make things a little easier.
KING: Renee Richards, who was the famous tennis play who became a woman was an ophthalmologist -- a famous ophthalmologist who went back and said -- told me once she never lost a patient.
J. BOYLAN: I believe that. I believe that, and people think this is going to be something it's not. People think that there's going to be some strange person appearing, but in the end, what they see is that it's only you. It's the person that they've always known.
KING: Shell Beach, California. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry, how are you?
KING: Fine. What's the question?
CALLER: Hey, listen, my question is this. I was wondering -- I saw them on "Oprah," and I thought it was so profound because Dierdre said to Jennifer that the last time they made love, her tears -- she was crying because she knew it was the last time, and they were wiping down on his breast.
KING: What's the question?
CALLER: Well, the question is, how did they both feel knowing that that was the last time?
KING: You knew it would be the last time?
D. BOYLAN: We never knew when it would be the last time. In fact, Jen writes about that really brilliantly in the book, and what you heard was a passage from the book describing that moment, and she described it really well. I mean, I think that the hard part of this transition was the loss of that physical intimacy, the loss of a husband and the grief that we had to experience in that change. But -- and so that was very difficult and it was very sad. But, I mean, the great thing is that we still love each other and have found a way to build our life together without that part of it.
J. BOYLAN: I mean, I think it's possible to -- it's proper to dwell on the sorrow and the difficulty of it, but it's also proper to dwell on the good things, and one of the things that has been true in this transition is that we've been able to see the -- I think we've been able to see people at their very best. We've seen our friends and our colleagues and our family be compassionate and loving and supportive, and I think that's part of the story, too.
KING: When did this take place, by the way, the surgery, the whole...
J. BOYLAN: Well, I first started coming out in cowardly little steps in '98, I think. But I really kind of came out and told her -- told Dee Dee that I needed to get back into therapy in early 2000.
KING: Boston, hello.
CALLER: Yes, hi, Larry. My question for Jennifer is, I am a female-to-male transgender person, and, while experiencing a great peace and finally becoming who I've always felt, I also constantly feel afraid of being a victim of a hate crime, and I was wondering if Jennifer also experiences that fear and how does she deal with it.
KING: You were a female and now male, right?
J. BOYLAN: I have not been on that receiving end of any trouble yet. I've been in situations where it's been hard for me because I was a woman. I've had guys come on to me and not take no for an answer. The world is a scarier place for me than it used to be, but it's not because I'm transgender, it's because I'm female. And that's -- again, that's just been my experience, and I know that there are other stories out there and that transgendered people are often particularly singled out for derision.
KING: A lot of men come on to you?
D. BOYLAN: As many as they ever did.
KING: Well, I mean, more when they know your circumstance? They see you...
D. BOYLAN: No, I haven't. I haven't experienced that. I mean, most people look at us and don't assume we're married. You know, I was thinking about the caller's question. I remember the first time we went out together in public, and it was before Jenny was as beautiful as she's come to be...
J. BOYLAN: Stop.
D. BOYLAN: ...and I was very frightened by that, and I was afraid that people were going to read her, were going to see that she was a man dressed as a woman and that something negative would happen. Sometimes I worry about Jenny because she doesn't have that kind of radar. Not having been a girl, not having gone through adolescence, she doesn't read the threats that men can pose sometimes.
J. BOYLAN: I mean, it's right for people to be cautious and concerned, but people should not let fear govern their lives. You cannot live your entire life afraid. At some point you have to find the courage to become yourself, and that's not just true for transgendered people. That's true for everybody.
KING: Did your voice change?
J. BOYLAN: I think it may have changed a little bit. It is not particularly conscious if it's changed.
KING: We'll be back with more right after this. Don't go away.
KING: Did you have to tell your students the next time you see me, I'll be different?
J. BOYLAN: I didn't tell my students before the last time I saw them, because I came out during the summer. But I'd been changing that whole year. And people were -- people knew something was up. They didn't guess that I was changing genders.
D. BOYLAN: You also went on sabbatical.
J. BOYLAN: Yes, I was away. So, I was away. But finally, I mean, a lot of people's reaction when they finally found out was -- I guess Dee Dee's sister had the best line. She said, thank goodness it's only that you were only a woman. I was afraid it was something serious.
KING: San Diego, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry.
CALLER: My question for Jennifer is, while -- well, first of all, I just want to say that I have no bias or prejudices whatsoever against transgendered or even, you know, homosexual individuals. But I have always wanted the opportunity to ask a transgendered person, what -- how is that you can be born one sex and have the desire to be another? And I say this in a completely non-judgmental way. It's -- It's simply just to gain insight because, you know, as a person born of a certain sex and comfortable in that skin, I think it's very hard to understand. So, that would be my question.
J. BOYLAN: It is hard to understand.
KING: Good question.
J. BOYLAN: And if you've never -- if you've never had this lifelong sense of yourself as the other sex, it just seems like it's from the moon. People who are not transgendered in this country are in many ways free from thinking about gender in the same way that white people are free from thinking about what race they are. And yet if you had this condition, it would haunt you all the time. And so that's why it's necessary to -- the thing you need is imagination. I can ask the caller to imagine herself as a man born, into the body of a man and how that would make her feel.
KING: Do you think about it Deidre.
D. BOYLAN: Do I think about gender, no. I mean, I'm obviously in...
KING: Do you think about what she went through? Do you think what would it be like if I felt like a man?
D. BOYLAN: I have had to imagine that in some way, because if I couldn't -- if I didn't believe that this was something that had nothing to do with volition, and has nothing to do with will, it was something that she suffered with and that the way to end that suffering was really to become herself, you know. So I don't think about it a lot now. But certainly as we went through the journey, the actual transition, I did.
KING: Wichita, Kansas, hello.
CALLER: Hi, I know you all said your kids don't have any problems at school and with the other kids now. But kids can be cruel. And I'm just wondering how you would plan on handling the situation should those problems arise?
KING: Good question.
D. BOYLAN: That's a great question. I'm a clinical social worker. For the last five years all my clinical work has been in schools. And what I do with my kids is try to help them think about scripts, literally, what they would say or what they would do if some one did something that they didn't like or didn't understand. And that's sort of the best that I can do is help them practice, help them think about it, without trying to telegraph to them that they're in danger in some way. I think that we've been lucky that they haven't had more negative experiences. But we live in a small town where people have actually been very accepting. And negative reactions -- we've heard from parents things, like, I'm not going to allow my child to come to your house. But that child has never behaved in any different way towards my son in the classroom.
J. BOYLAN: It is worth noting that there are worse things that can happen to a family. Families -- I mean, all kinds of a things happen to families. People get sick, people get divorced, people move away. And our family is different, but I hope that people see in us people who do love each other.
KING: We'll take a break and be back with more moments. Don't go away.
KING: Jennifer, do you fear passing on a gene to one of those boys?
J. BOYLAN: I don't think it's genetic. I think it has to do with the hormone bath that the uterus -- I'm sorry, that the baby is in.
KING: So they're OK?
D. BOYLAN: They would know. They would know. I mean, they would. And we've been open enough about it that we haven't heard that from them.
KING: Omak, Washington, hello.
CALLER: Yes. Good evening to all of you.
CALLER: My question is for Dee Dee. Dee Dee, back when you and your husband were in a normal relationship, were you open with each other about this coming surgery? Or did you suspect that there was a woman there waiting to come out?
D. BOYLAN: I had no idea that Jen was struggling with this during most of our marriage. As we approached surgery that -- I mean, there's a long process to go through before surgery, and it was as Jen started therapy and it became clear to her that she had to struggle with it more that, we were open about it in our marriage. We went through therapy. We talked to a certain extent, there were times when I didn't want to talk. But I didn't -- there was nothing -- nothing I could have seen or predicted from the way my relationship with Jim Boylan, that he was hiding that kind of a secret or that he needed to be a -- wanted to be a woman.
J. BOYLAN: But that's what you do. If you have this, you learn to hide it...
D. BOYLAN: Right.
J. BOYLAN: ... so well that you live your life like a spy.
KING: Do you do anything romantic, kiss?
D. BOYLAN: No. Well, I mean, hug.
J. BOYLAN: The relationship is like...
KING: Sleep together?
J. BOYLAN: We do sleep together.
D. BOYLAN: We sleep in the same bed.
J. BOYLAN: But it's like the relationship with sisters. It's the best way...
KING: Olympia, Washington. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Jennifer.
J. BOYLAN: Hi.
CALLER: I just want to say, I admire your courage for coming out and talking about such a controversial subject. My question is earlier in the segment it mentioned fear. And fear usually comes from a lack of understanding. What would you like overall after this interview for people to understand and to know? What would you like to get across to people this evening?
KING: Excellent question. We have about a minute left.
J. BOYLAN: I hope people will -- first of all, I hope people will find -- find it in their hearts to have compassion for transgendered people. There are tens of thousands of us in this country. Beyond that, I hope people will see in Dee Dee, a person who stayed true to the person that she loved. And to think that that is not -- I mean, it's an amazing and wonderful thing that I'm blessed by. But it's also -- I would hope that we all find in our hearts the kind of love that Dee Dee found. And I guess the third thing I would say is that I hope people find their courage to become themselves, and to believe that things that seem impossible can be true. And can come true with love and with friendship and support of your family.
KING: Did you ever ask her to leave?
J. BOYLAN: Never.
KING: Thank you both very much.
D. BOYLAN: You too.
J. BOYLAN: Thank you.
KING: The book is now in trade paperback, "She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders," by Jennifer Finney Boylan with an afterword by Richard Russo. We also shared time here with Deirdre Boylan, her partner.
Tomorrow night Reba -- Reba -- you don't have to say the last name, do you? Reba will be our special guest.
And Paul Anka will join us Saturday, by the way.
Right now it's time to turn things over to New York, and NEWSNIGHT. Aaron Brown is again off tonight. So, there he is, America's pinch hitter, Anderson Cooper. Who will be hosting "AMERICA IN THE MORNING" next week. Anderson, it's yours.
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