Since 1989, trans trailblazer Kate Bornstein has—with humor and spunk—ushered us into a world of limitless possibility through a daring re-envisionment of the gender system as we know it. Today, Kate identifies as nonbinary: not a man, and not a woman—and she’s been writing about nonbinary gender identity for nearly thirty years.
Kate was born Albert Bornstein in 1948, in Asbury Park, New Jersey. At an early age, he came to the conclusion that he wasn’t a boy, and that she didn’t want to grow up to be a man. To Albert, being a boy was all acting, and pretending to be a boy. In 1984, she began her hormonal, surgical, and social transition from male to female, which she completed in 1986—she was a woman! In less than two years, she realized that being a woman was for her no more than acting and pretending…just like it had been for being a man. So in 1988, Kate gave up the idea of being a woman, and now she lives on the edge of paradox: she is not a man, and not a woman. She looks beyond the gender binary to see gender as both a conscious practice, and a playful journey.
Kate’s work is taught in five languages, in over 300 high schools, colleges, and universities around the world. The titles of her books say a lot about who she is, and how she views things:
- Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us (now in its 2nd edition)
- My New Gender Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving World Peace Through Gender Anarchy and Sex Positivity (now in its 2nd edition)
- Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws
- 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
Currently, you can see Kate onscreen as Joan, the church lady, in the film, Saturday Church. In 2016, she was a regular cast member of the second season of E! TV’s “I Am Cait,” with Caitlyn Jenner. Kate is the subject of Sam Feder’s award-winning documentary, “Kate Bornstein Is a Queer and Pleasant Danger.” Kate’s work on suicide prevention, and her advocacy for marginalized and at-risk youth has earned her two citations of outstanding citizenship from the New York City Council.
Kate has been on the road lecturing and performing for over 25 years, at colleges, high schools, and anywhere people gather to talk about gender. She’s now writing a new book: Trans! Just For the Fun Of It: compassionate gender strategies for divisive times, sections of which she’s developing interactively on her blog, where she invites your input and feedback.
If you haven’t read Kate’s work or heard her speak before, get ready—she is the radical role model, the affectionate best friend, and the guiding mentor all in one. You will come away energized, comforted, and full of hope.