Professor Daniel Higgins receives “Best American Essays” honor

Daniel Higgins, associate professor of journalism, discusses his essay titled “Coffee With the Man Who Used to Be My Wife,” which recently received the “Best American Essays” honor.

Professor of journalism Daniel Higgins recently received the “Best American Essays” honor. (Tessa Pszonak)

By Nico Mitchell

Daniel Higgins, associate professor of journalism, recently heard the news that his essay titled “Coffee With the Man Who Used to Be My Wife” was listed as a “Notable Nonfiction Essay of 2019” which will be featured in the Best American Essays 2020 anthology. 

Originally, his work was published in August 2019 in the New York Times which sheds light on an important societal issue: gender identity. This essay details his account with his former wife and how he contacted Higgins about his transition to becoming a man.

The news was initially a shock to Higgins, but his acceptance and understanding came along as the conversation progressed.

 “I got the news, and it was nothing that I had expected. It came as a huge surprise to me. The other surprise was that I began to feel terrible about it and I felt guilty. I consider myself an ally to the LGBTQ community, [and] I did not understand what I was going through for a while — a surprising stew of emotions,” Higgins said.

After taking about a year and half to write this essay, he shared it with his former partner. Higgins said he had a positive reaction to this piece and suggested some edits to consider.

It was important for Higgins to make sure he was only telling his end of the story. He felt it was only fair for him to explain his own feelings and reactions to how everything unfolded. 

 “I wanted to write about everything that was on my side of the fence. It is about my own story; it’s my unwanted and surprising feelings, and it’s not me trying to put myself in the shoes of my ex. Trying to strike that balance took a long time,” Higgins said.

With his essay being shown in the New York Times and now being highly regarded by the Best American Essays Honor, Higgins wants to use his power as a journalist to amplify marginalized voices.

Higgins said, “People who are trans should tell their own stories, or other writers should tell those stories. There needs to be more opportunity. The media needs to seek out those stories of our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community.”

Higgins said his sole purpose for writing this story was to bring the stories of marginalized people into the spotlight. 

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