Jennifer Finney Boylan, a professor of English at Colby College and board member of the Indiana University Kinsey Institute, will visit Indiana University East at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 26, to discuss “Transgendered Identity and the American Ideal of Equality Under the Law.” The discussion will be held in Vivian Auditorium, located in Whitewater Hall.
Boylan is the author of She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders and Stuck in the Middle with You as well as a collection of short stories, three memoirs, and young adult books. She is an activist for LGBT people in general and trans men and women in particular. She is also a director of GLAAD, and supports PEN American Center. The New York Times bestselling author is a regular contributor to the opinion/editorial page of the New York Times. She has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show, Larry King Live, the TODAY Show, All My Children, and was featured in a CBS News’ 48 Hours documentary.
Wazir Mohamed, assistant professor of sociology at IU East, and member of IU East’s Commission on Diversity and Equity, said Boylan is a supporter of rights for all peoples.
“Jennifer uses her personal life journey to shine light on the role that discrimination plays to do harm to people who are not dangerous, but just different. She is well known, not just because of her advocacy on transgendered identity, but also for her writings and contributions as a distinguished professor of English,” Mohamed said.
While visiting Richmond, Boylan will meet with students from the Student Government Association (SGA), members of the campus’ LGBT Alliance, the sociology club, and select classes as well as faculty.
“These events, discourses, visit, and exposure on the issue of sexual identity and diversity are intended to serve as a conduit for our students, our faculty, our staff, our campus, and the Richmond Community to access information and engage in open dialogue on one of the issues of our time that is not well understood. IU East encourages you to be a part of this challenging discussion,” Mohamed said.
Denise Bullock, associate professor of sociology, said Boylan’s visit highlights transgender issues and gives IU East students the opportunity to question taken for granted assumptions regarding modern conceptions of gender and sex.
“Modern conceptions socially construct sex and gender as binary essential qualities of the individual,” Bullock said. “We order our lives and relationships within this modern structure—placing sex and gender in tidy little boxes. Jennifer Boylan, through the story of her life, challenges us to look outside the box and, in the process, examine our own lives.”
Kaylyn Flora, president of the LGBTQS Alliance student organization at IU East said, “I speak for all members of the LGBTQS Alliance when I say that the most gratifying aspect of Jennifer Finney Boylan’s presence is that this is the first internationally recognized person to speak on behalf of what our organization stands for. Boylan’s experience has the ability to reach a broader audience than we can hope for at this moment in our lives. Most importantly, she serves as an inspiration to promote diversity so that we too can be the light for others.”