Holly Boswell


Holly Boswell (formerly Thom) was born in November, 1950 and studied English literature and music composition at Oberlin College in Ohio. Boswell graduated as a Senior Scholar in 1972 and later became ordained to perform nature-based ceremonies. Holly acknowledges the importance of the spiritual aspect of transformation and transcendence within the journeys of transgender people.

Many of hir family and friends are clergy, so s/he explored that path in earnest until s/he discovered that hir most profound realization of spirituality existed in Nature. Concurrently, hir proclivity toward the literary and performing arts provided a bridge to free gender expression in Asheville, NC (c. 1980). Founding the first "open" transgender support in the southeastern U.S. in 1986 and developing innovative seminars at trans conferences since 1991, s/he built a year-round retreat facility for gender and spiritually questioning people in 2000.

Holly has maintained a non-religious instinctual spiritual path after decades of studying world religions, mysticism and philosophies... coming to trust the inner voice, the arbitrary constructs of gender, the diversity and inter-dependence within our natural world and the cosmos, and relaxing into the wonders of paradox. S/he believes that human evolution must transcend binary gender, and also that humans must transcend their own self-centered concerns and relearn how to live in balance with all other life-forms.

Holly has worked in transgender peer counseling, community building, and developing educational curricula at conferences, yet may be best known for founding the "Kindred Spirits" trans-spiritual network in 1993, which fosters global dialogue, hosts numerous gatherings, and performs ceremonies and theatrical events. Visit trans-spirits.org

Holly's ground-breaking essay, "The Transgender Alternative" appeared in Chrysalis Quarterly in 1990. "The Transgender Paradigm Shift toward Free Expression" has been published in Bullough's Gender Blending ('97), Denny's Current Concepts in Transgender Identity ('98), and Ore's The Social Construction of Difference and Inequality (2000 &'03). "The Spirit of Transgender" was published in the International Foundation for Gender Education's Transgender Tapestry in 2000. Holly is currently making a documentary film about the untold history of gender variance, and beginning a cycle of poetry that gives voice to non-human beings.

(This biographical statement provided by Holly Boswell.)

Holly Boswell died in August 2017 in Asheville, North Carolina.

Biography Date: March, 2012

Additional Resources

Here are obituaries posted for Holly:

Holly tells some of their story as part of the Oberlin College LGBT Community History Project:


Women's spirituality | Author/editor | Trans activism | Women and Religion


“Holly Boswell | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed April 24, 2024, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/holly-boswell.


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