Transgender celeb headlines nation’s largest one-night transgender event

An EDGE Dallas Publication
by Renee Baker
EDGE Contributor
Friday Apr 25, 2008

The Houston Transgender Unity Banquet (HTUB) will host transgender celebrity Jennifer Finney Boylan as the guest speaker. Dr. Boylan is an English professor at Colby University and is well known for her Lambda Literary Foundation award-winning 2003 memoir She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders. She is also well known beyond the GLBT community having frequently appeared on national television including Oprah, Larry King Live, and The Today Show. She has also played herself in a guest spot on the soap opera All My Children.

Dr. Boylan, who now goes by Jenny, and no longer James, will be sharing her life experiences, including that of being a transgender woman, with banquet guests.

“Usually what I do is tell stories,” Boylan says. “My sense is that we make the complexities of our lives clearer by telling tales than by giving lectures.”

The Houston Banquet, being held on April 26 at the Sheraton Houston Brookhollow, is in its 16th year. The nonprofit HTUB committee is built around transgender unity and consists of a consortium of area trans organizations. The Houston Banquet is said to be the largest single-night transgender event in the nation. Part of its mission is to bridge the gaps between various groups and organizations representing the transgender community in the Houston area.

Boylan feels that unity within the transgender community is important, no matter how diverse we are. She says, “There are surely as many ways of being trans as there are of being gay, or lesbian, or for that matter, straight. Here’s a chance to celebrate what we have in common.”

Dr. Boylan would like to impress upon the greater GLBT community that it is time to celebrate how far we have come, not just to look at how much is left undone.

She says, when asked on what she would like to tell readers, “Well, the trans community has taken more than its share of hits over the last year. I’d be glad if we could all take a deep breath and celebrate the progress we’ve made, in spite of how much more work there is to be done.”

Dr. Boylan will also be sharing her life by discussing her new 2008 memoir, I’m Looking Through You, which she says is “about growing up in a haunted house, and about what it means to be haunted.”

She adds that, “the ghosts of the heart stay with us a lot longer than the Scooby-Doo variety, and for trans people, we can be haunted particularly by the ghosts of the people we used to be, or the ghosts of the people we have become. My own sense is that people have to make peace with the ghosts in their heart in order to live one life– not a Before or After, but one integrated life of love and wholeness.”

Dr. Boylan explains that her path to wholeness has one of telling stories, something she plans to do on the night of the banquet.

Proceeds from the ticket sales will support the Peggy Rudd Transgender Scholarship Fund.

For more information about the banquet, visit the Unity website at

Jennifer Finney Boylan

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