James Boylan was a devoted husband and father to two sons when he began the process to become the woman he felt he’d always been on the inside.
During the transgender journey that’s followed, he’s been a father for 10 years, a mother for eight and for a time in between he was neither, “the parental version of the schnoodle, or the cockapoo”.
Now Jennifer Finney Boylan, she’s written a moving memoir, Stuck In The Middle With You: A Memoir Of Parenting In Three Genders,about how her family has coped and thrived after her decision.
Remarkably, Boylan is still married to the same woman, Deedie, who admits she was initially uncertain about the situation.
Boylan with Deedie at the birth of her son, Zach
“I wasn’t sure I wanted to be married to a woman,’’ Deedie told the Today show earlier this month. “I was scared about what it meant for my future and our future, but I’m not sure I ever came to that sort of very edge of the precipice saying I can’t stand this. It was hard and it was scary, and I didn’t know what was going to happen, but there was not a time when I said, ‘Forget it, I can’t do it.’’’
Jennifer writes in Psychology Today about the moment – at age 44 - that she broke down in her wife’s arms after realising she couldn’t hide her desire to be a woman any longer:
“I lay in her arms and shook. All at once I foresaw the perilous journey that lay ahead, not just for me, but for all of us.
“Now, fourteen years later, I wish I could have told my younger self that love would, in time, save us. In the wake of my transition, my sons - now a college freshman and a high school junior - would be come better men, and that my wife and I would stay together, our marriage stronger than ever.
“But there was no way of knowing this at the time. Who would ever believe that such an unlikely future existed? Who would believe that America would change so much in a decade and a half that what was once unimaginable could become normal, or that the gender of parents at last could be considered less important than the love in the family?”