With Laverne Cox on the cover of Time magazine, and Jazz Jennings with her own television show, it’s clear that the world of transgender is itself in transition. Kate Bornstein speaks to the changing language of trans, the clear division that runs through almost every trans community, and a strategy for unifying all our new and disparate trans identities without “invisibilizing” anyone.
Author, activist, performance artist, and gender theorist Kate Bornstein is one of the most influential voices in the discussion of gender and trans issues. She has created performance pieces and theater works, led workshops, and written several award-winning books in the field of Women and Gender Studies which are taught in over 120 colleges and universities around the world.
Bornstein recently spent two months with Caitlyn Jenner and six other trans women filming season two of “I Am Cait.” She is also about to release a 25th anniversary edition of her first book, Gender Outlaw, and is working on her sixth book, Trans: Just for the Fun of It.
For those of you that don't know, Kate was our keynote speaker for 2011 (you can read her speech here as a PDF), so we were prepared for a great evening. We were not disappointed! We all left full of excitement, new ideas to roll around with and very big smiles on our faces. Once again "Auntie Kate" offered new and complex views on gender, sexuality, language and more.
Kate shared her latest ideas on gender including some references to post-modernism and Buddhism, her latest gender identity (little old lady) and some ways to maintain friendships with people with very different politics. She also spoke about her use of the controversial word "tranny" as an identity label, the history of the word "transgender" and how its meaning has changed over time, and if we really are at a "tipping point" when it comes to the visibility and acceptance of transgender and non-binary gender people.
While Kate's ideas are sometimes controversial, she always entertains and provides a great opening to discuss the complicated world of gender. Thank you Real Art Ways & The Mark Twain House for sponsoring such a great event!
If you want to learn more about Kate Bornstein, you can visit her website or check out some of her books:
- A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The true story of a nice Jewish boy who joins the Church of Scientology, and leaves twelve years later to become the lovely lady she is today
- Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us
- Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation
- Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws
- My New Gender Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving World Peace Through Gender Anarchy and Sex Positivity
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