Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Jillian T. Weiss -- Then and Now

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | May 19, 2009 6:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: before and after, Bilerico contributors, Jillian T. Weiss, then and now

Jill - HS3.jpg

  1. In this picture, it was 1979 and I was 17 years old, wearing a suit and tie, and standing next to a grand piano with several harp-shaped trophies. By that age, I had won or placed in the state-wide piano competitions 6 times.
  2. My father was an accountant, who spent a lot of time at work. He was funny, wrote poetry, and had a good singing voice. My mother was a bright woman with little formal education. She was obnoxiously opinionated, but often right. She and I were very close, but it was infuriating that she wanted me to be a doctor and I wanted to be a teacher.
  3. I was very religious starting from the age of 12, and enjoyed reading about and discussing Judaism and mysticism. I went to a yeshiva day school until junior year, when I began to feel too isolated from the world.
  4. I rarely did my homework and graduated in the bottom half of my high school class, though my SAT scores were high. My teachers in high school and college made sure to let me know often that I wasn't living up to my full potential, as if I didn't know. They had absolutely zero insight into my problems.
  5. I never had a girlfriend, though I was desperately in puppy love with several girls (but never the ones who wanted me, not that I was aware there were any).
  6. I had never seen drugs of any kind.
  7. I spent most of my free time reading science fiction, playing the piano, weight training, and fantasizing.
  8. I had two close male friends. I didn't find out until years later that one of them was gay.
  9. I was constantly fantasizing about being a girl, and feeling like a sick freak. I spent a lot of time praying for this obsession to go away. I had never heard of the words "transsexual" or "transgender".


  1. In this picture, I am 47 years old, standing with colleagues at Humboldt University in Berlin at a conference of the Law and Society Association.
  2. Both my father and mother were dead by the time I was 27. I was devastated.
  3. I am an agnostic, though I have great sympathy and interest in religious topics and discussions. I have a good working knowledge of the Bible and I enjoy talking to my religious students about their religions.
  4. I am a tenured professor of Law and Society. I have a J.D. and a Ph.D., and graduated cum laude for each. I love my work.
  5. I am married and in love with my wife. She is my soul mate.
  6. I rarely drink or use drugs or medicines of any kind, except for a small dose of estrogen.
  7. I spent most of my free time reading and writing. I like mostly non-fiction. I don't like most television or movies. I still play the piano. I love to rollerblade and ride my bicycle. I am beginning to indulge a penchant for writing poetry.
  8. I have no close friends, though that would be nice. I suspect that my wife and I are what Kurt Vonnegut called a duprass.
  9. I am a happy woman. I am exactly where I would like to be in life.

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OMG, I love your haircut in the first picture. I want it!

An interesting pair of lists. The "no close friends" really touched me. My spouse is my best friend, so maybe we are a duprass as well. I will keep trying on the friend front. As for the rest, I have a way to go to accomplish what I want to do and know I can do. But I am also happy.

You look so much happier in the 2nd photo, Jillian. And I loved the segments about your education. What made you decide to get it in gear and go on to have such a stellar academic career?

Dr. Jill, thanks for the insights.

tobyhannabill | May 20, 2009 3:48 PM

I have been an avid reader of The Bilerico Project for over a year. These "Then and Now" postings are the most inspirational things I have ever read.
Thank you for sharing.