When noted transgender author Jennifer Finney Boylan began the transition from male to female, she believed her marriage to wife Deedie Boylan was most likely over.
Instead, it is still going strong 25 years since the two tied the knot, and her relationship to their two sons is equally solid.
In an interview with Harry Smith that will air on "Rock Center with Brian Williams" Friday at 10 p.m. ET, Jennifer and Deedie and their sons, Zach and Sean, talk about the changes their marriage has undergone in 25 years, the changing face of the American family, and the fear of how Jennifer's transition would affect Zach and Sean. Jennifer, an English professor at Colby College and best-selling author, also talks about her new book, “Stuck in the Middle With You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders.” Jennifer, Deedie and Zach will also appear on TODAY Friday.
“I think it's very typical for us to think that love will make us into better people, will make us into the people that we hope to be,’’ Jennifer told Smith about making the male-to-female transition during her marriage. “I really felt that that part of my life was over. But it only took a few years before the feelings returned, and returned more powerfully.”
Deedie, who married the then-James Richard Boylan in 1988, then dealt with the experience of watching her husband transition into a woman with sexual reassignment surgery in 2002.
“One of the ways that I dealt with it was to sort of say, ‘Look, I'm not your consultant on how to be a girl,’’’ Deedie said. “I didn't want her to touch my stuff. I didn't want her to wear my earrings. She got the journey of discovering who she really was, and I had to sort of watch the man I had married disappear.”
The result is an unconventional family, but one filled with love.
“If normal is a family that has a mom and a dad and two kids and a white picket fence, then no, I don't live in a normal family,’’ Zach Boylan told Smith. “But if a normal family is one where everyone treats each other as equals and with love, then yeah, I live in a normal family.”
Jennifer has written extensively about her personal experience. Her 2003 memoir, “She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders,” was the first best-seller by a transgender American.