Jennifer Finney Boylan, Author and professor at Colby College in Maine
1. What transgender story or character has been particularly meaningful or impactful to you?
"I wish I could say that more trans stories or characters helped me on my way when I felt most alone— but when I was coming out, quite frankly, I struggled because none of the narratives out there felt like they had anything to do with the life I wanted to live. As a woman my concerns have always been pretty close to the hearth - I have always prioritized the lives of my children and the woman that I love. Right behind that was my work as a teacher, and trying to be a positive force in the lives of my students. I didn't see that story being told when I was in my 20s and 30s; all the characters I read about seemed to suggest being trans was some wild and radical act. Now, of course, I think I have come full circle. Now I believe that there's probably no more radical thing that a trans person—or anyone—can do than raise a family, and to live your truth without shame."
2. What is a common stereotype or cliché in stories about transgender people that you never want to see again?
"I am tired of seeing trans people as tragic heroes. 'Heroes' are good, but do we always have to be tragic? Can we not be honored for the things we do that make us human, rather than the things that makes us extraordinary? I mean, I do believe that trans people are all heroes, and that we are extraordinary - but the media needs to show our humanity, and not to constantly exploit us. I know that there is a tremendous amount of work to be done, to help reduce unemployment and harassment of trans people - but the media can help bring this change about by altering the narrative. I want to see a trans person on a TV show whose gender identity is as unremarkable as anyone else's. I want to see a show that simply shows that being trans is just one more way of being human."