Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylan

Long Black Veil

Jennifer Finney Boylan

With a theme as strong as transgender transition, so overtly autobiographical of the author, you wonder how it will fit with the why-dunnit that is the skeleton in the closet of an American college friendship group. It's in the why, why should this happen to me, why should I be forced into a lesser version of myself, why can people not see this is the real me, that the depths of identity shifts are passionately revealed.


It's worth saying that no one does this anymore, or almost no one - the flight into anonymity, the assumption of a new identity, and most of all, of course, the histrionic fake suicide, which even by the fairly high standards of melodrama for trans people, I think represents a particularly narcissistic high-water mark. I think of Caeden, coming out in sixth grade, transitioning before seventh. Being trans, of course, is hardly a road to safety these days, and depending on race and class it can still be almost as hard a journey as it once was for me. But at least it's something that people have heard of, and many people have begun to understand. Back in my twenties, there were times when I feared I was the only one of me in the world, that the entire condition was something I'd invented out of sheer loneliness.

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