Thank you for sharing your story so generously and genuinely. In offering a glimpse into the darkest and most liberating chapters of your life you have galvanised me to continue to fight to make this world a kinder, more understanding, and more equal place. The first thing I did after your talk was come home and tell my flatmates about your story. Just like me, they could not believe the structural and social barriers that you have had to face. Even my poor rendition moved them greatly! Your “butterfly effect” is already spreading its wings. As a women and children’s rights activist and someone beginning their filmmaking career, I promise to continue it in my life and future work. Seeing your resilience and resistance makes me damn proud to be a woman! Your passion, courage and warmth are contagious, and I wish you and your sons every success and happiness.
Justin Garcia, PhD
Ruth Halls Associate Professor of Gender Studies
Director, The Kinsey Institute
Jessica was a guest host of the St Hilda’s Feminist Salon in June in 2017, which was co-organised with the Oxford University Students’ Union’s LGBTQI+ Campaign. The Salon is a space for feminist activists and academics from all backgrounds and perspectives to talk openly about their life and work, to introduce students and staff at Oxford University to worldviews that do not normally have a platform at the university.
Jessica warned me in advance that she would be searingly honest, and that was certainly true! She talked us through her life story, with all its brutal twists and turns, and connected it back to how the state bureaucracy makes complex life situations all the more painful, particularly the US healthcare and legal systems. Taking us step-by-step through her life, Jessica provided new insight for many attendees who have come to queer theory from an academic perspective. Hearing the human story of what it feels like to be trans in a gender-binary society and how powerful institutions, as well as social norms, restrict trans people’s opportunities for self-development and peaceful interaction with the world was eye-opening and deeply moving. What could have been an upsetting story was full of warmth and humour due to Jessica’s skill as a speaker. Jessica’s mission to educate students around the world about trans-rights by telling her personal story is an extremely important one, and I highly recommend her as a speaker.
Dr Maeve McKeown
Junior Research Fellow in Political Theory
St Hilda’s College, University of Oxford
Jessica Lynn's seminar at the Centre for Family Research, University of Cambridge presented students and staff with a unique opportunity to learn from a transgender woman whose parental rights have been redacted under Texas state law. However, this seminar wasn't only about retelling the facts of a legal case. In fact, Jessica told her life story with great openness, warmth, and vigour: her seminar was both informative and impactful. Jessica is a highly impressive advocate of transgender rights, who remains sensitive to those stories and choices that do not align with her own, while offering an important insight into her personal experiences. It was a pleasure to attend the seminar, which served as a stark reminder of the role of the sociolegal sphere in determining patterns of parent-child relationship
Dr Sophie Zadeh
Centre for Family Research
University of Cambridge, UK
Thank you for your generosity in speaking to my undergraduate classes in Gender Studies. Both the 100 and 300 level classes reported that they really appreciated having you as a guest lecturer and wish for me to extend their thanks. I appreciate the way that you are willing to share so openly about your life and emphasize to students that there are as many stories as there are people so they appreciate diversity among trans persons. By telling your story, you help them develop greater understanding and empathy for the thoughts, feelings, and at times sense of isolation and even despair, a transgender youth and then adult may experience. Additionally, they learn about the prejudices you have faced and the role of the state in discriminating against trans persons through your painful story of your custody battles for your sons. Your effectiveness as a speaker is due in large part to your style of presentation, which is very “down-to-earth” and approachable, and your willingness to answer any of their questions. Your story is so moving, that despite hearing it on multiple occasions now in class, it still brings tears to my eyes.
Personal narratives are powerful tools in bringing issues to life that otherwise might remain abstract to many students. Presenting facts and statistics cannot have the same impact. Students are the newest of voters and the next generation of policymakers. Your investment of time and emotional energy to speak to them, and your charge that they share your story with others, are an investment toward shaping a future with less discrimination and more understanding and celebration of diversity.
My deepest thanks,
Stephanie A. Sanders, Ph.D.
Provost Professor & Peg Zeglin Brand Chair
Dept of Gender Studies
Senior Scientist, The Kinsey Institute
Jessica Lynn’s presentation to my Psychology of Human Sexuality Class was inspiring. My students absolutely loved Jessica’s journey and her way of relating to a college population. They laughed, sighed and at times sat in stunned silence as Jessica’s evolution unfolded. In forty one years of teaching this class at the University level I had never seen a standing ovation for a guest speaker until today. Jessica is a power house and her journey and presentation is bringing awareness to the transgender journey. Five stars, A plus, and bravo to this very courageous and talented woman.
Larry J. Bloom, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Colorado State University
I'd like to thank you again for your mesmerizing talk!
You got a long standing ovation, and indeed, I have never seen my students that engaged.
You are a gifted, passionate, and motivational speaker. Your personal story increases our understanding of the transgender community. However, it does much more than that. It is a story about finding your true self and calling in the face of life's struggles. You give people hope and increase their belief in their ability to embrace diversity and make the world a better place.
Gurit E. Birnbaum, Ph.D.
Baruch Ivcher School of Psychology
Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, Israel
Jessica, I want to thank you for coming to the University of Kent to share your story with our students. Some came along because of academic interests, some personal, but many both, and you passionately and thoughtfully spoke at a range of levels. You delivered your talk with courage and compassion, reflecting on not only your own experiences - and indeed trauma - but much wider issues in the transgender community, across time, place and many other factors. Your energy and openness make you a compelling speaker and we hope to welcome you back to campus next year. I am still thinking about your presentation, and talking to others about it; which I think is why you do what you do!
Dr Julie McCandless
Kent Law School
I want to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with students, faculty, and staff at the University of Toledo about your experiences You were phenomenal and I have received nothing but positive feedback. Many of the people I spoke with after the presentation relayed to me that they connected to the talk on an emotional level and also learned a lot. As you know, education is powerful and I am grateful for your willingness to passionately educate about critical issues that impact transgender human rights.
We look forward to having you back in spring. I am happy to share your contact reformation with my colleagues at other institutions that I think might benefit from the work you do. If l can provide any other assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out.
It was an honor and a pleasure meeting you! I look forward to your return visit to the University of Toledo.
Kimberly R. McBride, PhD, MA
Assistant Professor, Public Health
Chair, Diversity & Inclusion Subcommittee
School of Population Health
College of Health and Human Services
University of Toledo
Jessica – I just wanted to reiterate how much I appreciate you making time for our students at University of Kentucky. Thank you for being so candid in sharing your story with us. The students were engaged, inspired, and touched by you. I truly admire your courage and appreciate you sharing with us the personal struggles that have been part of your experience as you transitioned to the woman you are today. Our students in sexuality education come from a multidisciplinary background, and your talk touched upon the role of psychology, sociology, law, medicine, health education, and family relations in your journey. Thank you again for sharing with us. You’re an engaging speaker and I hope you will be able to join us again
Kristen Mark, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Health Promotion
Director of Sexual Health Promotion Lab
University of Kentucky
'I am extremely grateful to Jessica for generously sharing her story with students and staff at the University of Reading. Jessica is an excellent speaker - very talented, passionate, engaging, honest, full of energy and with a truly unique sense of humour. Everyone enjoyed her talk immensely and we have learned a lot from a person who tells things as they are. I hope we can have Jessica back to speak again in the near future.
Dr Alina Tryfonidou
Associate Professor, School of Law
University of Reading
Jessica Lynn is an advocate, educator, speaker, and most of all absolutely an amazing human being, who has a transformative impact on everyone whom she encounters. Jessica has been giving numerous presentations at Miami Dade College for the past few years. She is highly sought after, and in fact her talks have been streamed live on multiple campuses. Jessica tells her moving story in such a powerful way, with having attendees experience a range of emotions. Everyone in the audience is captivated and engaged as Jessica tells of her transgender journey. She connects with everyone through humor and honesty, and shares her experiences with such authenticity, leaving a profound mark of inspiration Students, faculty, and anyone else who attends, leave after hearing her story, having had laughed, cried, and most importantly reflective. In a remarkable way she gives a poignant lesson about compassion and non-judgment. Jessica also impressively weaves in scientific information for everyone to appreciate and understand, while sharing her deeply felt personal story. Jessica Lynn is truly extraordinary - her dedication, determination, and energy to fulfill her mission is: Exceptional, Outstanding, and Phenomenal!
Dr. Eric Belokon
Professor of Psychology
Department of Social Sciences
Miami Dade College
“The personal is political” – the slogan of second-wave feminism of the 1960s and 1970s still holds true today and applies to the lecture Jessica Lynn gave in Berlin during an event co-hosted by the Initiative Queer Nations and the Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies (Humboldt-University). The deeply moving story of Jessica Lynn's personal life has a political impact that should not be underestimated. Her story is certainly as insightful for the 21st century as Lili Elbe's was for the early 20th century. After the lecture Jessica Lynn and Niki Trauthwein, founder and director of the Lili Elbe Archive in Berlin, compared the situation of trans* people in Germany and the USA – a highly inspiring and instructive exchange of ideas between two admirably courageous and committed activists.
Professor of German Literature
Research Center for the Cultural History of Sexuality
Jessica, thank you for sharing your story with my class, and for taking the time to share lunch and dinner with those who wanted to continue the conversation. Many of my students wrote in their course evaluations that your talk was the highlight of their semester. For most of them, your visit was their first opportunity to have an open dialogue with a transgender person—and you lived up to your claim that you don’t offend easily and you were eager to answer any kind of question. Your openness, vulnerability and generosity of spirit enabled my students to move beyond stereotypes to learn about your unique troubles, challenges, joys and victories that have been part of your life as a transgender person.
Dr. Carole K. Hooven
Lecturer and Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies
Human Evolutionary Biology
It was an honour and pleasure to host Ms Jessica Lynn in NUI Galway. Her talk was thought-provoking, educational and engaging personal narrative that covers socio-legal aspects of life-long journey of a transgender person. Ms Lynn’s exceptionally eloquent, deeply personal and succinct account of the challenges and most joyous moments of her life was equally inspiring and heart-breaking. As my colleague said to me afterwards, if her main goal was to get people talking and keep them talking as a means to challenge the barriers and inequalities that she and others have faced, then it was definitely successful – my colleague was 20 minutes late for her next meeting because the person she walked out of the building with and she couldn't stop talking about it! As an organiser, I was e-mailed and told in person by numerous attendees how invaluable this talk was for their own reflection on daily injustices, prejudice and marginalization experienced by sexual minorities. Jessica, keep going strong!
Dr. Vesna Malesevic
School of Political Science and Sociology
Thank you very much Jessica for coming to the LSE in December 2017 and for generously sharing your moving life story with us. The students of my ‘Gender and Society’ course loved your candid approach and your terrific sense of humour. You’ve ‘put a face’ to the theoretical debates of queer theory and trans* studies and you’ve opened their eyes to some of the struggles and ongoing discrimination faced by the trans* community in the 21st century. I would be most grateful if you were able to speak to my new students next academic year.
Dr Martina Klett-Davies
Department of Sociology
London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Jessica Lynn is a great speaker: she is positive, challenging and funny. She doesn’t run away from the dark side of her experiences, but her energy and rebellious sense of humour drive the story forwards and bring you along with her. For anyone without a trans history, the theoretical debates at the meeting point of feminist scholarship, queer theory and trans studies can be bewilderingly complex; but Jessica stands up and says, candidly, ‘this is how it is for me, make of it what you will, but I hope you get it’.... We did.
Professor of Human Geography
Convenor, UCL Gender & Sexuality Studies
UCL (University College London)
I was thrilled to have Jessica Lynn recently with us at Utrecht University. Jessica is a wonderfully engaging speaker who brings a unique combination of humor, resilience, and honesty to her presentation. Her story is emotional and compelling, and because her style is so incredibly open, she also conveys a lightness that draws students in and allows them to connect with her. I also especially appreciated her willingness to talk with students one-on-one after her presentation -- this showed a deep commitment and desire to share her own story and to hear about others' experiences as well. At this moment of increasing visibility of trans people and experiences, Jessica reminds us of the importance of education and dialogue -- we must continue fighting stigmatization, marginalization, and injustice. Undoubtedly, students left the classroom as more aware individuals, and I'm confident that many will go on to speak out and work as trans allies thanks to Jessica's positive message.
Thank you, Jessica, for sharing your story. I'm already looking forward to having you back to Utrecht!
Assistant Professor of Gender Studies
Jessica gives a palpable, honest and riveting talk. She uses her own story to highlight the struggles and social injustices faced by trans women and men in our society. I was humbled by her strength and fortitude, moved by her desire to help others and awed by her charm and candor. The pedagogical value of her visit cannot be overstated. Her talk will stick in the minds of my students and will, no doubt, be one of the highlights of their undergraduate education.
Assistant Professor of Psychology
University of Pennsylvania
Jessica Lynn is an exceptional woman; she is an engaging speaker, a selfless advocate, and is truly making a difference in the world. Her talk in my Sociology of Gender class was both heartbreaking and heartwarming. She is incredibly open about her transition, romantic relationships, and legal battle to be a part of her children’s lives. I am in awe by the strength and vulnerability that is needed to tell her powerful story. It is story of resilience, but also highlights the reality that much more work is needed to combat hate and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. We cannot thank you enough for your bravery and willingness to let us into your life. We’re looking forward to having you back again in March!
Department of Sociology
Oklahoma State University
Jessica Lynn held our group in the palm of her hands throughout her presentation, as she took us through her extraordinary experiences with the skill of a consummate storyteller. Her sensitivity and humour enabled us to understand her pain while applauding her resilience and to share her desire and drive to make the world a more welcoming home for all of us.
Principal at St. Aidan's College, Durham University
Durham, United Kingdom
Dear Jessica Lynn,
Thank you so much for coming to my sociology of gender class (SOC 630) at the University of New Hampshire. You were an incredible speaker: poised, prepared and knowledgeable. The most impressive part of your talk was the ways in which you incorporated an array of power dynamics into your story (instructional, medical, legal, personal), demonstrating how gender and gendered norms function in people’s lives. Your talk illuminated for the students how structural bias and inequality has tangible consequences for individuals, their families and our society. Furthermore, your teaching style was approachable, comfortable and accessible, capturing the attention of a diverse student body.
On another note, I wish to speak to your advocacy work and resilience; I admire the advocacy work you do. Our world is a better place because of your openness, honesty and strength. I look forward to seeing you again.
Nicole Fox, PhD
University of New Hampshire
Department of Sociology
It is not an easy job to open out about your innermost desires to the world especially when such desires are neither completely appreciated nor understood. At a time when the concept of transgenderism was still in its fledgling days Jeff Butterworth had the strength and will to transition into Jessica Lynn.
Life of course hasn’t been easy for you, Jessica. One can only imagine the pain of losing a beloved son to custody battle for trying to be who one is! Over the years you have travelled in a lot of countries telling people your story and touching, we are sure, countless of hearts in the process.
For here, at IIM A too, you left us spellbound with your storytelling. For nearly an hour and a half we listened and actually ‘lived’ your life as Jeff and then Jessica. We revelled in your joys and cried in your sorrows. You have lived a difficult life and by sharing with us your story, you have taken up the onus of making other lives slightly easier than yours. Despite the still surrounding stigma, despite all the misconceptions, you have shown the courage to come forward and for that, we salute you and your candour.
Listening to your story has given us a new impetus, a new-formed motivation to move ahead gallantly and fight this battle for freedom for this still underprivileged community in our country. Our fight here, is at a critical juncture, much like the time in which you grew up. So there is a lot to learn from your story. We take heart from your loving demeanour and unbridled dauntlessness to know that no mountain is insurmountable.
And while you have lost the battle, we sincerely believe that you will win the war! Your love for your son and your sense of honesty, we pray, will prevail as you move ahead in this journey of yours.
We, here from IIM Ally, cannot thank you enough for your efforts and we wish you luck and success in all your future endeavours.
Anoop Kumar Yadav
Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad
I found your talk incredibly moving. You made such a clear case for the need to combat prejudice, simply by telling your story. The account of your transition, and your experiences in the court system in the US, were a perfect illustration of the need for (proper enforcement of) trans rights, and how everyday instances of transphobia can have devastating consequences for the recipient. As I speaker, I found you compelling and your case persuasive (not that I needed persuading!). I was only sorry that more people were not there to hear what you had to say – but I hope to remedy that on your next visit.
Dr Rob Clucas | Lecturer in Law | Director for Student Experience
School of Law
University of Hull, England
It was a pleasure and a privilege to have Jessica speak at Yale Law School. Alongside a renowned family law professor, she educated students from across the university on the ways in which the law is unjust in its treatment of trans folk. She was incredibly engaging and strikingly candid. Attendees found Jessica’s presentation to be educational and emotionally impactful. Jessica was a pleasure to work with while planning her visit, and was remarkably flexible and generous with her time while she was in New Haven. We hope that she will visit Yale again soon!
President, OutLaws (LGBTQ law student association)
Yale Law School
It was a true pleasure hosting Ms. Lynn in my Introduction to Human Sexuality class. Her engaging and emotionally compelling personal story about transsexual transition kept my students, most of whom had no prior knowledge of transgender issues, as attentive and focused as I have never seen them before. Although Jessica talked primarily about her experiences and feelings (helping the audience deal with some difficult moments with a great sense of humor), the presentation was also highly informative from a scholarly perspective Despite of all the hardship, tragedy and legal injustice she encountered in her life, Jessica’s story is not about a victim but a wonderful parent and person who loves and cherishes life. She is a true ambassador of transgender community. Thank you, Jessica.
Professor Aleksandar Stulhofer, PhD
Dept. of Sociology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
University of Zagreb, Croatia
Jessica Lynn is a speaker everyone should hear especially for those who have had little experience with trans individuals and issues. She is candid, funny and very straightforward. She hides nothing and she tells all without shame or embarrassment and she is willing to talk about anything related to her own story and transition. She speaks the truth of her life and it is very affecting. She also makes it clear that it is her truth and that she does not speak for other trans individuals or the community. Her story reminds us of the power of individual stories and that every life is important.
Associate Professor Mary Lou O’Neil
Director, Gender and Women’s Studies Research Center
Kadir Has University, Istanbul, Turkey
This is a very belated THANKS for coming to Bristol on the 20th to talk about your transgender journey. Your talk from my/our perspective was huge success. We engage a lot with academics here, which is why it’s always so refreshing to have a talk from someone who is not an academic, who just tells it like it is, and who reminds us how much we, as academics, can learn from non-academics. I’ve talked to a good number of students since the event, and to say they enjoyed it would be an understatement. More than that, you made them think – and feel – about things that they may not have reflected on much in the past. I’m pretty sure Julia picked up your themes in her lecture/seminar the following week. I know your aim was to get people thinking, and in this you very clearly succeeded. Thank you so much
School of Sociology, Politics, and International Studies
University of Bristol
I know a number of remarkable people with remarkable stories. Upon hearing her talk to the Psychology Department, Jessica Lynn may have moved to the top of that list: her story is moving, informative, riveting, tragic, and triumphant. The presentation she gave was highly beneficial to our Clinical Psychology Graduate students, and gave them many insights into the early manifestations of being transgender, the coping mechanisms she adapted during her childhood, adolescence, and most of her adult life, and the egregious discrimination she suffered at the hands of a Texas judge. I think that Jessica's message would find numerous receptive audiences- high schools, college groups,universities,LGBTQI youth support groups, churches, etc.
Caryn L. Carlson, Ph.D.
Professor and Associate Chair
Department of Psychology
The University of Texas at Austin
It was an honour and privilege to welcome Jessica Lynn to Maynooth University, part of the National University of Ireland. Jessica’s presentation offered a remarkably compelling and engaging insight into her journey and experiences. In a thought-provoking and informative presentation, she vividly illuminated the experience of a person who is transgender. Jessica’s presentation offered a stimulating first-hand account of her life as a parent and a person who is transgender, and in particular of her heart-breaking struggle to regain custody of her son. This latter episode, in particular, highlights the often deeply unjust consequences of legal intervention, and offered a searing insight into the reality of discrimination under the law. For me, the presentation highlighted that while laws in the western world have improved significantly in the protection offered to transgender people, much more needs to be done, particularly to prevent a slide backwards into less tolerant and more discriminatory legal and policy approaches. (This slide backwards can already be seen in current US Federal policy towards transgender people.)
Jessica’s courage and resilience is inspiring. Her presentation was captivating. She presented her experience in an engaging, passionate and accessible manner. Jessica immediately puts students at their ease with her open, friendly, informal and warm approach, and her good humour. Jessica’s presentation was inspiring and informative, and offered a compelling and insightful account of the experience of a transgender person. Notably, as Jessica herself emphasised in her presentation, she does not purport to speak on behalf of all transgender people or LGBT people, and she is careful not to universalise her experience. Nonetheless, her presentation resonated profoundly with many people in the audience, who noted parallels with their own experience of being transgender and/or non-binary.
Dr Fergus Ryan
Department of Law
Maynooth University, Ireland
Jessica Lynn's lecture at Baker University was a very special opportunity for students to get exposure to the real life, lived experience of an individual who has traversed the explicit and implicit discrimination faced by the transgender community. As a Sociology Professor, I can provide statistics and facts about what this community is faced with but the experience of listening to and meeting someone who has, and is still, overcoming these challenges is life changing for students. I specifically use the word "life changing," as this was a term used by more than one of my students in describing how they felt about Jessica's lecture. I had numerous other students who expressed the very same thing; that Jessica's lecture was unforgettable and some students even communicated to me that they began to rethink their views of the transgender community. Further, Jessica's story is one that will keep students and faculty engaged through the entirety of the lecture and will provide thought provoking accounts that keeps the mind thinking for quite some time after. Finally, Jessica's lecture is crucial to creating empathetic individuals who will hopefully declare their alliance with the transgender community and advocate for laws and policy that reflect equal rights for all. Jessica's lecture is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity that should not be missed! Cheers to Jessica Lynn!
Department of Sociology
Jessica Lynn kindly came to Nottingham Trent University to talk to students taking my Gender, Identity & Body Image module. Jessica's story of her transition and loss of parental rights for her youngest son was heartbreaking yet also inspirational. Jessica spoke with passion and good humour about the trials she had to face. Her talk was frank and her ability to convey the indignity she suffered yet remain sane against all odds was an effective way to engage audiences and to spread the word. Whilst Jessica's aim is to raise awareness, she was very clear in conveying that there exist a plurality of other unheard stories from the community.
After her talk Jessica answered questions and was very open about her experience. This was much appreciated. One brave woman....amongst many.
Thank you Jessica from myself and my students.
Nottingham Trent University
It was a remarkable experience for my students and me to have you speak to my Men & Masculinities and Society and the Individual courses last week. My students told me explicitly that they enjoyed your raw and personal narrative style. Many said that you opened their eyes to experiences that have always been distant to them. I too appreciated your bold and candid approach to sharing your exceptional story. Your experiences were relevant to the gender and identity issues I address in my courses. In addition, because I focus on family issues in both classes, your unique story about the troublesome politics and discrimination associated with transgender parenthood was an ideal way to illustrate key points to my students. I look forward to having you visit my future classes and I applaud you for being such a unique and dedicated agent for social change.
Sociology and Criminology & Law
University of Florida
This is to say a heartfelt thank you for coming to speak with our students studying Equality and Human Rights on our LLB Law degree at the University of Hull, UK in February 2019. I found your lecture extremely moving and inspirational, and it was evident from the response you received from the audience throughout the lecture, as well as the questions you received afterwards, that a great many students did too. The powerful personal story you shared with us all conveyed searing anguish as well as good humour, raising awareness of the importance of trans rights - as well as the devastating human costs of their denial - in a way that a textbook never could. I am still thinking about the issues your lecture raised several days afterwards, and have discussed them with family and others – a measure of the impact your talk had. It was certainly one of the most successful guest lectures I can recall during my academic career and that is a testament to your engaging, open and vivid style of delivery. You showed us all how compassion and acceptance of the full spectrum of gender identity can be harnessed through advocacy and activism to create a better future. What the world needs now is more of your values!
Wishing you and The Butterfly Project every success over the coming years, and I look forward very much to the next opportunity when you can return to speak to us.
Dr Phil Bielby Lecturer in Law
Law School and Research Associate
Institute of Applied Ethics
University of Hull, UK
The Lambda Law chapter of Penn Law was honored to host transgender activist Jessica Lynn. Lynn discussed her life experience as a transgender woman, parent,activist and educator. She shared her life story and gender journey with first, second and third year law students, exposing them to transgender issues and inviting their questions. Lynn's openness and honesty provided a unique opportunity to gain insight into gender identity and the transition process. She welcomed any and all questions and shared details from her personal life to answer the students' questions about transgender issues. Lynn is an entertaining, enlightening and compelling speaker. Her frank style and remarkable life story make her a powerful speaker and educator about transgender issues. Lambda Law looks forward to having her back to campus in the future.
University of Pennsylvania
Dear Jessica: Thank you so much for the engaging presentation you gave to the students in my study abroad class! As future psychologists and counselors who are striving to increase their multicultural competency, my students found your talk to be both informative and enlightening. We also appreciated the candor, enthusiasm, humor, and passion for social justice that you brought to our class. I look forward to welcoming you back the next time I teach this course. Thank you again!
Justin J. Lehmiller, Ph.D.
Director of the Social Psychology Graduate Program
Ball State University
Thank you so much for the illuminating and highly engaging talk that you gave to the Centre for Family Research on Tuesday. We appreciated your candour in telling us about the ups and downs that you have experienced in your life and the challenges you have faced in fighting for custody of your children.
Your talk was one of the most moving but also the liveliest of the year and we are still talking about it. It was a pleasure to meet you and thank you for your visit.
Professor Susan Golombok
Director, Centre for Family Research
University of Cambridge
Jessica Lynn is a very engaging speaker. Her talk gives a very personal look at the challenges transgender women can experience, from starting from childhood and moving through adolescence and adulthood. Her story weaves back and forth from heartbreaking to hilarious to hopeful. She provides a personal narrative that connects well to fields of psychology, communications, and gender studies. She discusses how her gender identity impacted her relationships with her parents, relationship partners, and children. She discusses her experiences with psychologists and the challenges she faced growing up in the 1980s when awareness of transgender identity was minimal. She presents the details of the court case in Texas where a judge cited her gender identity as a reason to deny her custody of her after previous judges had awarded her sole custody. She was an interesting speaker, but she was also more than willing to talk with and grab dinner with interested students and faculty after her talk. She is very enthusiastic and personable, and students in my classes unanimously voted that I should invite her back in future years.
Dr. David Frederick
Professor of Psychology
Chapman University, Orange, CA
Jessica Lynn gave an engaging, deeply personal presentation during her visit to UNLV. Her story is powerful because she shares it with such candor, humor, and in thought-provoking ways. She both touches on the curves her life has taken, and on the intersection of her parenting with the legal world. I have little doubt that students will recall details from her story years from now, taking from this the kind of deep learning experience we always hope to see unfold in university life.
Peter B. Gray, PhD
Professor & Graduate Coordinator, Department of Anthropology
Adjunct Professor, UNLV School of Medicine
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Jessica Lynn's story and experience is an important one to learn from, and we at Drexel are so grateful to have her come visit us in Philadelphia. It's deeply important to give space on campus to the most marginalized voices in our midst, and while there are many different trans* stories, Jessica Lynn is making that possible by sharing her experience with her hard work and activism. My students really cherished their time with Jessica, and she even took the time to have coffee with them outside class. Thank you so much, Jessica.
Lindsay Orchowski, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor
Ms. Lynn was unflinchingly honest about a really difficult topic. Her talk was serious, but interspersed with quick jokes that helped people stomach the material. Her story is a real life story about how life for transgender parents doesn't always have a happy ending, and it's a much needed talk. No topic was off limits, and Ms. Lynn answered every question honestly, no matter how personal. Outlaw was proud to host Ms. Lynn, and we thank her for her willingness to share her message with the world.
Director, OutLaws (LGBTQ law student association)
Penn State Law
State College, Pennsylvania
I am a professor in the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies department at Kansas State University. I would like to communicate my highest regard for Jessica Lynn as a social justice educator, gender warrior, and talented public speaker. Jessica has a gift for connecting with audiences, students, and staff through her authenticity and humor. She fearlessly shares her life story and makes herself vulnerable communicating the incredible strength of her person. My students were engaged and on the edge of their seats during her whole presentations. Though Jessica makes it clear that she does not speak for all transgender people and only tells her own story, the power of her truth opened student’s minds to the reality and humanity of all people who are transgender; Jessica creates a kinder world. Her work is priceless.
Angela Towne, MEd, PhD
Visiting Lecturer Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies
Kansas State University
In April of 2016 it was my pleasure to attend a two hour lecture on human sexuality given by Jessica Lynn at Indiana University. Jessica presented her life graphically as a series of family photos. Her transition from a talented but troubled youth to a young father, and then to a trans woman is touching and filled with trauma. However, Jessica’s story was narrated with honesty and humor, and without self-pity. She also gave sensitive and thoughtful responses to difficult questions from the audience. Jessica’s presentation was totally personal, but at the same time touched on universal questions regarding gender and sexuality.
C. Sue Carter, PhD
Director, The Kinsey Institute
Rudy Professor of Biology
Indiana University, Bloomington
Jessica spoke to my Sexuality, Gender Identity and the Law class, and also participated in a Q & A with the broader law school community. In both her talk and the Q & A she was candid, emotionally compelling and humorous. For students this was a rare opportunity to get a very personal window into the real-world consequences of gender identity discrimination (Jessica's loss of parental rights over her son), as well as to have the ability to ask questions of someone uniquely open to sharing her personal journey.
Rutgers Law School
Camden, New Jersey
My students and I greatly appreciated the time you spent with us revealing much of your life story! Your courage to speak openly allows other people to see their own paths in a new light. You give strength to people who are looking to find their way in a very restrictive world. Your candor is remarkable and shows your commitment to discussing the good, the bad, and the amazing parts of gender and culture. Many of my students noted that it was the best guest presentation they had attended. Thank you again, and keep up your work!
Lisa Eaton, Phd
Human Development and Family Studies
University of Connecticut
The students in my Gender in Society course really appreciated Jessica’s presentation. It was an opportunity for them to engage with a person who has experienced the struggles and triumphs we’ve been studying in class from an academic perspective firsthand. Jessica’s talk made the topic all the more salient, powerful, and important. Thank you, Jessica, for sharing your story with us, and for your advocacy on behalf of the transgender community.
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Washington University in St. Louis
Jessica Lynn's presentation had a meaningful impact on everyone in the room that could be measured in tears and smiles of hope. Her educational advocacy around the world is a crucial step for promoting an inclusive society and a legal system that will work to end discrimination against the LGBT community. Jessica's dedication and commitment ensures that our future generations will be socially aware of the unique issues faced by transgender individuals and their families, and supportive of their equal rights
President, OUTLaws (LGBT Advocacy)
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
William S. Boyd School of Law
Jessica Lynn's story was nothing short of inspiring. Jessica came to Rutgers University - New Brunswick to share her transgender journey with such zeal and passion. She has a way of bringing you into the story and inviting you to feel all the emotions that she felt during some crucial periods of her life. Many of our students who were present were excited, motivated, inspired, and also happy to see an individual who they could relate to and take away some life lessons applicable to there lives. We really enjoy how she is direct, humorous, and so down to earth. Thank you, Jessica, for giving voice to your story in order for others to learn and grow. We hope to see you again.
Keywuan J. Caulk, M.Ed.
Assistant Director, Center for Social Justice Education & LGBT Communities
Rutgers University--New Brunswick
Jessica Lynn spoke to my undergraduate course of Human Sexuality students. Each and every one of my students were engaged and captivated by Jessica’s story — she has a unique way in capturing the attention of my students. In follow up discussions, students revealed they learned an incredible amount about the challenges and perseverance of transgender individuals, and Jessica conveyed these experiences much better than I or any other cisgender person would be able to!
Ryan J. Watson, PhD
Human Development & Family Studies
University of Connecticut
Thank you so much for coming to BITS Hyderabad and giving such a wonderful talk. I admire your bravery in sharing such a personal journey with us all. I have been getting such positive feedback about your talk from both the faculty and students. You have moved a lot of people with your story and have started a very important conversation on LGBT rights in our campus.
Lavanya Suresh, PhD
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
Birla Institute of Technology & Science-Pilani, Hyderabad Campus
Jawahar Nagar, Shameerpet, Hyderabad- Telangana, India
Jessica Lynn spoke to students at Mississippi State University in March of 2016 as part of the Gender Studies Program’s Lecture Series. Her talk was raw, honest, and uproariously funny while tugging on the heartstrings. Jessica shared her journey from gender dysphoria, to parenthood, to transitioning and family heartbreak, and ultimately, to the outspoken, passionate advocacy she offers by sharing her story. The Deep South is not always friendly to LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people. Jessica puts a compelling human face on trans* communities and struggles. Our students were riveted during her talk, and asked many, many questions during Q&A. The discussion was positive, blunt, respectful, and funny. We can’t wait to see Jessica again at MSU to continue the conversation.
Kimberly Kelly, Ph.D.
Director of Gender Studies
Associate Professor of Sociology
Mississippi State University
Jessica spoke to my Elements of Sociology class in Fall 2016 during our unit on gender and sexuality. In a class of 730 students, you could hear a pin drop, her story was so captivating. She holds nothing back and her candid presentation style captivated students instantly. At the conclusion of her talk, students rushed to meet with her, gave her hugs, and thanked her for sharing her story with them. Her presentation is something that will stay with students for years to come and has opened their minds to the lives and experiences of trans people. It was an honor to have Jessica speak in my class and I welcome her back any time.
Lisa-Marie Wright, Ph.D.
Department of Sociology
University of Kansas
Jessica Lynn spoke to my Medical Sociology class in November 2016. From start to finish she captivated the attention of the class. Jessica speaks straight from the heart, is delightfully candid, and sincerely engaging. Jessica’s story provided a real-life example that many students would not have otherwise known. Several of my students expressed interest in her coming back to speak next year. We sincerely thank Jessica Lynn for coming to our campus. I highly recommend inviting her to speak.
Jeff Shelton, M.S.
Department of Sociology
University of Georgia
Jessica Lynn came to an undergraduate class at the University of Utah called “Families and Health.” Her presentation was a perfect complement to our class – her story of transitioning from Jeffrey Butterworth to Jessica Lynn captivated our students, opened their minds, and was a real highlight of our semester. Her talk was about so much more than transgender issues. Her story provided an example of a real-world narrative that allowed us to talk with our students about issues of gender, relationships, policy, and discrimination. We are thankful for the opportunity to meet Jessica, and to have her become a part of our learning.
Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Utah
Jessica Lynn’s visit to our class was transformative for both me and my students. In September 2016, Jessica spoke to my SOC 120: Introduction to Family Studies students at the University of Northern Colorado. Jessica was down-to-earth and was able to put her story into a moving presentation that held every single student’s attention in class. Her story was sociological, political, and personal and gave my students much to think about both inside and outside the classroom. After class ended, there was a line of students waiting to hug Jessica and thank her for her time and candor. The next class day, they begged me to organize a return visit the following semester; we are working on that as I type this. I cannot wait to bring Jessica back to the University of Northern Colorado. I feel incredibly lucky to be an ally for her story and her bravery.Angie Henderson, Ph.D.
Department of Sociology
University of Northern Colorado
Ms. Jessica Lynn used honesty and humor to not only talk about what it means to be transgender, but also about the heartbreaking challenges in her life; a serious car accident, the death of a loved one, substance abuse, and a brutal custody battle. She emphasized that she was only speaking for herself and not as a spokesperson for the transgender community. She did not hold anything back. Sharing personal photographs really brought her story to life and allowed the audience to form a connection with her. Her story is likely changing the views of many students across the country. While the sexual orientation of a parent plays less of a role in custody cases than it used to, her story highlights that transgender parents face similar obstacles to those faced by lesbian, gay, and bisexual parents in the past. The legal sphere still has a long way to go when it comes to understanding of gender identity. I wish Ms. Lynn the best as she continues this important journey.
Lydia Aletraris, Ph.D.
Department of Sociology
University of Georgia
Jessica gave an inspiring talk to our Clinical Psychology Master’s level students. It was very upbeat and compelling. The students were riveted and touched by her personal story. In this way she brought the issues and struggles to life. Her humor and candor made the talk enjoyable as well as informative. It was a wonderful experience for the graduate students and the faculty in attendance. It helped sensitize the students to issues surrounding working with clients who are struggling with gender identification issues. I believe it will make them better future mental health counselors. Their feedback was extremely positive. I hope we can have her back to speak again in the near future.
Steven L. Berman, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
University of Central Florida - Daytona Beach Campus
Jessica Lynn captured the attention and imagination of our students – making them laugh, think, and cry at once. Her story is poignant, heart breaking, but ultimately encouraging for all in attendance, for whom her strength and humor were inspiring and rousing. Jessica’s is a winding, even harrowing tale, but certainly never a dull one. This was one of Gender & Women’s Studies most successful and lively events of the year, just the thing the students and faculty needed in the middle of what was, for many of us, an absolutely gutting week. A good number of students stayed after the talk for a good 30-45 minutes, chatting and learning from Jessica and clearly not wanting to let go; for these and the other students, Jessica Lynn’s journey will resonate well beyond her visit to our campus.
Associate Professor of Art History
Co-Director, Gender & Women's Studies
In October 2016, it was my pleasure to have Jessica do a Q&A in my Critical Issues in Public Communication (Com 436) class. Her bright, open personality instantly drew students into the facets of her story as she shared them. It only took a few minutes for them to take over asking the questions from my prepared list, and they earnestly and curiously engaged her; Jessica, in turn, answered every question frankly, honestly, and often with humor. Later that evening, she gave her prepared presentation for a group of 65 students and faculty. In meeting with my classes later in the week, a number of students shared that they had never met a trans person “in real life” and meeting Jessica gave them a better sense of what it could mean to be trans. Her presence opened a whole new way of thinking for many of them. The work that she does is so important, and I’m grateful that she was available for a campus visit. I look forward to having her return in the future so others may benefit from hearing her story.
Amanda Firestone, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Communication
The University of Tampa
I appreciate your speaking to my sociology classes at Indiana University. The classes unanimously expressed the hope that you would return in future semesters. Your story really moved them, and in a way that I know can be difficult with such a controversial topic. Jessica, you are an incredibly engaging speaker—and you represent an underrepresented minority that people need to learn about. Your talk informed students of the social and legal abuses suffered by the trans population—an issue that had likely never entered their minds prior to your talk. You are a brave woman and I commend you for speaking out on the injustices you have suffered. The students loved you—indeed your talk was the highlight of the course for them. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your life story. I wish you the best as you continue on your very important journey.
Martin S. Weinberg
Professor, Department of Sociology
Affiliate, Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, & Reproduction
My students and I are grateful to Ms. Jessica Lynn of the non-profit organization Your True Gender for volunteering to speak to my Introduction to Women’s Studies course at Auburn University on March 24, 2016. We were moved by Jessica’s heartfelt sharing of her most intimate memories and experiences of growing up with gender dysphoria, falling in love, parenting, undergoing a sex transition as an adult, and confronting arbitrary laws and practices that discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community to the detriment of all. Students appreciated Jessica’s humor and especially her honesty and candor, and noted approvingly that she is “authentic,” “true to herself,” and “real.” My students firmly believe that much prejudice results from misinformation and ignorance, and they recognize the value of Jessica’s tireless efforts to educate youth about difference and equality. I hope many more will hear her story and let it be a catalyst to change minds and effect more substantial, progressive changes in our society and legal institution
Arianne Gaetano, Ph.D.
Anthropology & Women's Studies
I so appreciate your guest talk last Thursday to the students, faculty, and staff at UL Lafayette. I was truly impressed with your personal journey to your true gender, and your perseverance despite all odds!
Beyond the appreciation and empathy I have for you personally, as a scholar, I was delighted to have our university student organization (GLASS) and the SGA Lyceum Committee host such an enlightening presentation. In today's world, there are a lot of misrepresentations and misunderstandings about transitioning and trans identity. As you put it so eloquently, there are 1.4 million shades of trans -- and I think your disclaimer that your personal journey is but ONE shade of grey -- was enlightened. Though your individual story is unique, there are so many general lessons about transgender people you also teach in your presentation. Cisgender audiences, in particular, would do well to attend one of your talks, and to become enlightened and move toward a compassionate understanding of another human condition that is overlooked, ignored, hated, abused, and otherwise disenfranchised.
I will absolutely recommend to my colleagues across the nation that they contact you and schedule a visit to their campus immediately!
Congratulations on a successful journey and best wishes to you in your very bright future!
DeAnn Kalich, PhD, FT,
Professor and Department Head
Sociology, Anthropology & Child and Family Studies
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
We were honored to have Jessica Lynn speak at Mississippi State University. My students found her talk powerful, tragic, and fascinating. Jessica's goal is to change the world's views of the trans* community one person at a time and there is no doubt she is accomplishing this task. Many of my students left her talk and called their parents and friends to share her story. Jessica's impact, particularly in the south, cannot be overstated.
Emily D. Ryalls, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Communication and Gender Studies
Mississippi State University
Jessica has presented twice in my graduate course on developmental assessment at California State University, Fresno. Students invariably expressed their tremendous appreciation for learning about Jessica's journey. Her story highlights issues of gender diversity from an individual's point of view, as well as the political, legal, educational, societal ramifications for transgender parents. Jessica's talk provides invaluable insights into the transgender experience, as well as the broad topics of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. We hope to continue being fortunate enough to have Jessica on campus in the future.
Carlos O. Calderon, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychology
California State University, Fresno
Thank you again for fitting my class into your busy schedule. The students really enjoyed your presentation and learned a lot. I received only positive feedback from students. They felt your presentation really helped them understand issues of family law, sexuality, and just the day-to-day struggles of being trans. Thank you for your candid and open discussion
Jill Bakehorn, Ph.D.
Department of Sociology
University of California, Berkeley
Jessica Lynn spoke to my Gender and Society class this morning about her journey. The students and I were mesmerized. She speaks from the heart and shares her truth with humor and compassion. She exemplifies courage and grace under pressure and the students were rendered speechless. I noticed that some had tears in their eyes. Jessica has experienced unbelievable tragedy yet she offers hope and healing. I think my students will remember her story for the rest of their lives and will educate others about transgender issues. I hope to welcome Jessica back next Fall so that she can similarly inspire a wider audience at our University
Kathryn E Kuhn, PhD
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Vice President, Missouri Conference, American Association of University Professors
University of Saint Louis
I had the honor and pleasure of having Jessica visit my Deviant Behavior (2440) class this semester. Jessica’s candid way of speaking and inviting personality enabled her to connect with students immediately. Her presentation gave students exposure to a topic that is of great social importance, but in a way that was deeply personal and, therefore, impactful and profound. In fact, some students indicated that the stories Jessica shared were far more educational, powerful, and memorable than any article or book regarding transgender issues that they had read in any of their classes. Further, her talk showed students how transgender issues intersect with other aspects of social life such as the family and the legal system. I was so impressed with Jessica’s presentation that I cancelled the lesson plan for my Social Psychology (2462) class later that day so she could speak to the students in that class as well. Students in that course were equally grateful to have had the opportunity to hear her story. Overall, this was a guest speaker that far exceeded my expectations and is an experience that I doubt my students will soon forget.
Maren T. Scull, PhD
Assistant Professor, Clinical Teaching Track and Undergraduate Advisor
Department of Sociology
University of Colorado Denver
Jessica’s story is powerful, compelling, and heart-wrenching. She has presented to two of my Gender Studies undergraduate classes at Indiana University. Both times, my students were tremendously moved and emboldened by her story. As an instructor, it is difficult to convey the social, psychological, and legal obstacles facing trans individuals. Jessica’s talk not only personalizes these issues, but conveys the immense importance and consequence of discrimination to the well-being of sexual and gender minorities. I very much respect how forthcoming Jessica is about the fact that her testimonial is only one, and therefore does not represent the lived experience of the broader transgender community. Her vulnerability and openness about her mental suffering, surgical transition, and legal custody battles are admirable and offer a rare opportunity to understand the multifaceted struggles faced by those who challenge society’s rigid gender binary. I highly recommend Jessica as a speaker. She is punctual and prepared. Her presentation is truly captivating; never have I seen my students so attentive and engaged! On a personal level, Jessica is kind, humble, and hilarious. She is an absolute delight to work with.
Tania Reynolds, PhD
The Kinsey Institute & Department of Gender Studies
Indiana University, Bloomington
Jessica C. Lynn was my guest at Wagner College on March 17, 2016. After an hour’s conversation we went to my class, “Other Sexualities,” a basic course in our Gender Studies minor. My students were thoroughly attentive by Jessica’s presentation. I can’t recall a speaker holding thirty undergraduates’ attention for ninety minutes as she did, especially late in the day, late in the week, and on St. Patrick’s Day! My students were enlightened about the complex phenomenon of transgenderism and transsexualism. They were also entertained by Jessica’s energetic and candid style, which included truly powerful images from the speaker’s life. With only a ten-minute break, Jessica went on to a second class, which was as drawn into her personality and discussion as my students had been. A third venue had been arranged for 4:30, which attracted students and several faculty. One student wrote: “I loved her. She was so informative and engaging. Her approach to the subject was unique. I was incredibly honored to have spent the afternoon with her.” We hope to see Jessica on campus next academic year.
Miles Groth, PhD,
Professor and Chair,
Department of Psychology,
Wagner College, New York City
It is difficult to overstate the importance of Jessica Lynn's visit to our small college in the heart of Appalachia where most of our students have limited awareness of issues facing the transgender community. Jessica was in great demand during her two-day visit, speaking in many classes in addition to her full presentation to a larger cross-section of students. She also made time to meet with representatives from our Gay-Straight Alliance and met informally with interested students. She relates very well with the student population and they were moved by her story. I have heard nothing but positive feedback about her visit and we hope to have her visit our campus again. I greatly appreciate the time and energy Jessica puts into promoting trans awareness around the country and am especially appreciative of the time she spent with us.
Dr. Tracy Luff, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology
Honors Program Director
Athens, West Virginia
My students and I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation in my Social Justice/Human Rights class. Your delivery was so engaging, personal and powerful. By any measure you are a very effective speaker, educator and activist. I found your experience with the legal system as a transgender parent especially disturbing. My students loved your talk and felt inspired by you, saying “Jessica turned something so negative into something so positive--activism”. So, thank you and hope you will visit George Mason University again.
Cher Weixia Chen, Ph. D.
New Century College
George Mason University
Jessica Lynn's talk was engaging, moving, and always human. It was clear to me that the students were drawn in from the beginning and very touched by her story. I believe that this topic of transgender awareness is important to discuss openly in order to help individuals better understand one another and appreciate differences so that we can better relate to each other. Jessica is very passionate about what she does and the social issues she advocates for. This is a talk that all college students should hear!
Phoebe S. Jen Lin, Ph.D.
Assistant professor of psychology
Framingham State University
Jessica Lynn spoke to three of my classes at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, during the week of March 30, 2016. In her presentation, Jessica clearly communicates the intersectionality of statuses that we explore in my sociology and gerontology classes. Her story and presentation style are both powerful and greatly educational. She puts a human face to the struggles of trans* identified people, especially with regard to the legal and relational aspects of gender confirmation processes and family dynamics. Using real-world examples and accessible language, Jessica shared with us her sense of disconnected embodiment from a young age and the people in her life who supported her (and challenged her) as she tried to make sense of it. Navigating loss and grief, confusion and confirmation, and, ultimately, truth and triumph, Jessica's life course story emphasizes the importance of recognizing how individual biographies intersect with history and geography in life-informing ways. My students appreciated Jessica's no-nonsense delivery and willingness to share her story in a very raw and real way. Her "no topic is off-limits" approach set the students at ease right away and opened up a safe space for them to ask questions that they otherwise may never have the opportunity to ask. Indeed, several students communicated that Jessica's presentation was the most powerful thing they had ever heard. I appreciate Jessica's ability to show vulnerability along with a sense of humor that is often essential when speaking to audiences who may have stereotypical notions of what a transgender person "is." Jessica brings a certain humanity into the conversation of identities, which is essential for the learning process. I applaud Jessica's mission of sharing truth and creating connection and look forward to having her speak at UCCS again.
Morgen L. Thomas, MA, E-RYT
Instructor, Sociology & Gerontology
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
Jessica Lynn visited my Sociology of Gender class in spring 2016. My students have listed this as one of their favorite classes of the semester. The class now has a better understanding of transgender issues and rights.
Jessica told the story of her life, starting with her childhood memories and moving into her adult experiences. She told the story of her transition and the devastating aftermath of losing her children. Through her own personal experience, she advocated for changes in policy and the law to prevent others from experiencing similar heartbreak.
My students and I were thankful for her candor and her sense of humor. She was willing to answer any question about any topic. She easily conveyed complex and very serious concepts in a way that my students and I understood. She did so with a sense of humor, making us laugh more than several times.
We also found her organization, Your True Gender, very inspiration. It takes a strong person to turn their personal struggles into a social justice platform. We are thankful for her organization and for all of her work on transgender issues!
Cheryl Llewellyn, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Sociology
Faculty Affiliate, Gender Studies Program
University of Massachusetts Lowell
Jessica, thank you so very much for coming to speak to my upper division Sociology classes (Human Sexuality and Social Change) at Florida Atlantic University in February 2016. My students' positive response to you was overwhelming! Your candor and humor broke down any barriers there might have been. I truly appreciated how in you telling your personal life story, you touched upon so many broad topics, including what it means to be transgender, your struggles in childhood, the challenges because of continued stigmatization. Your PowerPoint made your presentation even more personal, with pictures from your life. I am sure you remember the large group of students that surrounded you after each of the two presentations. The following week even more students came to my office hours and voiced to me how their preconceived notions of transgender people changed dramatically because of your visit. I had more than one student say that after your presentation they now feel they understand the issue so much better, and now they have more sensitivity and empathy. Thank you so much for not only opening my students' eyes but, even more importantly in my opinion, opening their hearts!
Dr. Gina Carreno-Lukasik,
Senior Instructor of Sociology,
Florida Atlantic University
Thank you so much for speaking to my introductory gender studies course at Indiana University - Bloomington. We were incredibly moved and touched by your honest, thoughtful, and sophisticated discussion of transgender rights. The way in which you expertly weaved personal stories with a rich analysis of transgender issues was unforgettable and an overwhelming number of students said your talk was their favorite day in the course. You demonstrated a tremendous amount of passion, concern, and care for educating students that was much appreciated. Thank you for making such a positive and lasting impression on my students that will go beyond the classroom.
Dr. Laura Foster, JD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Gender Studies
Affiliate Faculty, Indiana Maurer School of Law
Indiana University Bloomington
Jessica came to my sociology class "Families and Societies" yesterday at Georgia State University. I have a class devoted to "Social construction of Gender" in which she came to speak as a guest speaker. Her presentation about her life journey was so touching and genuine. Students were touched and inspired. She opened up minds and hearts of students. At the end of the class, students came up to her to hug her and shake her hands. In her words, "we are born white, black, tall, and short; I was born female but trapped in a male body...I am here today because someday, maybe your brother, sister, cousin, uncle or aunt, may become or know someone who is transgender, maybe by knowing my story, you can open up your hearts and minds, and start to accept differences for who we are..." How much more sociological can these words be!
Jenny Zhan, PhD.
Georgia State University
Thank you for coming to visit my sociology class last week to share your story. The students found your presentation totally riveting and I am certain that for many it will stand out as the highlight of their semester. From my perspective, one of the most interesting things about your talk was the way it brought into such clear focus the ongoing biases of our legal system, reminding us that trans* activism is about identity and freedom of expression, but also about the very real and serious consequences of the cultural norms embedded in our social institutions.
So, thank you again for generously sharing your story and making the trip to the east coast. Hopefully we can arrange for you to visit again soon.
Asia M. Friedman
Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice
University of Delaware
The Women’s and Gender Studies program and Center for Diversity and Social Justice at Central Washington University was delighted to have Jessica Lynn visit our campus in November of 2015. Jessica is extremely generous with her time, speaking to students in classrooms and also presenting her story to the campus community. After her presentations she made time to meet with students in small groups and individually.
Jessica Lynn has a way of connecting with students. Speaking of her life from childhood to adulthood and ultimately realizing her dream of living a life as her true gender Jessica captivated students with her description of grappling with what she refers to as her “birth defect.” Her journey is one of human struggles, determination, tragedy and also triumphs, punctuated by sex jokes and the occasional f-bomb. Her speaking style encourages students to ask questions and no question is off limits. She tells it like it is and it works.
Judy Hennessy PhD
Associate Professor of Sociology
Director of Women’s and Gender Studies
Central Washington University
Thank you ever so much for coming to speak in my classes. The students agree that your presentation and testimony was a resounding success. The presentation touched the hearts and minds of many students in the class. The vote was unanimous. You will be invited back next semester!
Jacqueline Maria Hagan
Professor of Sociology
Fellow, Carolina Population Center
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Jessica's story is a captivating personal journey of discovery and a glaring example of the discrimination faced by transgender individuals in their everyday lives. The students in my Genders and Sexualities course were surprised to hear about the length to which the law can still be used to deny people like Jessica their basic parental rights. Jessica is an inspiring example of someone who transitioned later in life, and how that affected her relationship to her family. She is a wonderful speaker who uses humor and personal photographs to bring her story to life.
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
College of the Holy Cross
Thank you for coming to my class and giving such an amazing talk to my students! As I told you before, my class is Multicultural Psychology. Your talk about your transgender experience fit this class and the current topic perfectly. Your story and experience exemplified the identity development model of LGBTQ population in the text book. I truly admire your courage to be so candid to the audience about your inner feelings, perceptions, your personal life experiences, and the struggles and challenges you have had and still have now. I love how you concluded the talk--the purpose is to educate and help raise awareness and help the public understand individuals of LGBT, which is not an easy job!
Again, I really appreciate your coming to talk to my students! Your talk has enhanced the students' and my awareness of the LGBT issues and knowledge about this population! Tons of thanks!
I will strive to have you come again next year or in the near future!
Hong Ni, Ph.D., NCSP
Department of Psychology
California State University-Fresno
This is just a quick note to thank you for coming to speak to my class. The students were clearly riveted by your story. It allowed me to really bring the issues of gender and sexuality “to life” for the students. Many students reported on the course evaluations that having you present your experiences was the best part of the class! I am on sabbatical next year, but look forward to having you present again in the future.Prof. Patrick Carroll
Sociology and Science & Technology Studies
University of California, Davis
Thank you so much for speaking to my graduate students recently. Their understanding of transgender issues, struggles, and successes is so much more informed than before. Their compassion is also greatly enhanced, thereby better postitioning them for working with transgendered persons in the future. So, again, thank you very much, and i look forward to securing your expertise the next time i teach this class.
J. Kelly Moreno, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Coordinator, Master of Science Program
Dept of Psychology and Child Development
Cal Poly State University
Thank you again for speaking to my class! Your honest, funny, emotional and enlightening story captivated the students. In addition to the lively discussion we shared with you, the students and I continue to process the important themes you raised in your presentation. Many have said meeting you and hearing you speak has been one of the best experiences they have had at UCLA. We truly appreciate your time, candor, and advocacy.
Adriana Galvan, PhD
Department of Psychology
University of California, Los Angeles
I teach sociology at Santa Barbara Community College, and sex and gender are a large component of the course. Jessica was so kind to come to a very large class (130), and tell her story with honesty and grace. She is a captivating speaker with great charisma. I look forward to having her come again, as she gives a perspective so clearly that even the most sheltered students come away with new attitudes. A textbook simply cannot capture the attention the way Jessica does.
Professor Santa Barbara Community College
Santa Barbara, CA
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to come to California State University, Los Angeles to talk my sociology class on “Aging and Family Life.” The students really enjoyed your talk. They were really appreciative of your honesty and openness in discussing your life journey from childhood to the adulthood and in talking about your relationships with family members. They were inspired by your commitment to your children and your courageous fight to remain a part of their lives.
They recognized that in telling the story, you were forced to revisit many painful events. Rather than being maudlin and sympathy seeking in your presentation, you were professional, interesting, engaging, funny, and outrageous! By hearing about how you navigated those difficult times, you gave everyone the motivation to face their own challenges, particularly those who faced issues of sexual identity. You touched everyone’s hearts by giving us a deeper understanding of the importance of being one’s true gender.
The students unanimously voted to invite you again next year so that future students would have the opportunity to meet you. Thank you for giving us the gift of your amazing life story.
Roseann Giarrusso, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology
California State University, Los Angeles
I wanted to thank you so very much for coming to my class this past Friday and so candidly sharing your life story with my students!! I talked with my students on Monday about your presentation and they felt that they learned so much from you! They were impressed with the courage it takes to share your personal journey and they now have a much better sense of some of the struggles and ongoing discrimination faced by the trans* community. Even though small in numbers (and pretty quiet as a group), I think that you reached an important group of students and you helped to foster discussions on important issues that our college community rarely, if ever, discusses. Thank you so much!
Hopefully, we'll be able to meet again soon! (I teach this course annually and would love to have you return to Westmont in the future.
Sarah L. Jirek, MSW, PhD
Assistant Professor of Sociology