Auntie Kate’s Bible Story & Prayer for Pride

Last night, I was asked to speak at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, my synagogue in New York City. I go there when I'm in need of solace or succor or someplace with peaceful family. Well, it's an LGBTQetc inclusive congregation, and each year they have a Pride Sabbath, and they invite a cool person who speaks to them about pride. This year they chose me.

Every week, on the Sabbath, a different part of the Jews' journey to freedom is read. I asked Rabbie Sharon Klenibaum (upon whom I am secretly crushed out) what portion of the Torah would be read that evening. She told me that every Pride Month Sabbath at CBST, the congregation hears the story of how Noah finally sets foot on dry land, right after a HUGE MOTHER-FUCKING FLOOD has wiped out humanity. But God promises never to drown humanity again. He didn't preclude other methods, but we are definitely NOT going to drown. God makes this covenant with Noah, and to seal the bargain, He gives Noah a rainbow.

My queer Jew people in New York City hear that story every year, and it always gives us goose-bumps, the rainbow part—God's presence as we step out of the closet and onto dry land. So, I was supposed to talk from the bimah for 10-15 minutes—about anything I wanted. I thought it best to stick to the scripture, so I told a midrash—that's a Jew version of a parable, and sometimes even a koan. A midrash is a person's re-telling of some part of the Torah. I wanted to stay on point, so I told a story that I think makes the rainbow an even more important synbol LGBTQetc Pride. Download KB CBST Pride Shabat 2012 I closed the evening with a prayer, and a lot of people have asked me to post it. So, here's my Pride Sabbath Prayer for you. Enjoy being proud. kiss kiss, Auntie Kate

——————

May all your deeds be mitzvahs.

May you find the fulfillment of your Desire in Sabbath.

May your power increase with every shred of power
you use in service to another.

May you realize the goodness in yourself
by admiring the goodness in others.

May yours be the face of your most cherished Deity.

May you come to respect yourself, whether or not
anyone else gives you the respect you wish for.

May you know your own worth to humanity 
whether or not anyone else knows this about you.

May you walk always beneath rainbows where you are met
with radical wonder and radical welcoming.

So say we all… Amen.


Susie & Aretha Bright’s Great Fucking Book

Brights-460x307I tired posting this review to amazon.com but the internet machine got in the way of me posting it there. So I'm writing it here, because this is a great fucking book. I mean that in every great sense of the words.

Sex advice books can be problematic for many reasons and this book avoids most if not all of the common problems, and so it's a winner.First off, sex advice is generationally problematic. Old people and young people have different views of sex. Most times, these views conflict.

Mother/Daughter Sex Advice solves this problem neatly by making all the advice an intergenerational conversation. How cool is that?!

Many sex advice books are limited in their scope of what sex means. Both Aretha and Susie are far beyond limits when it comes to sex. No matter your gender or sexuality, if it turns you on—or if you thought it might turn you on—it's probably in this book. I read with joy as all sorts of wonderful topics were playfully and intelligently discussed: erectile dysfunction, body image, even the taste of semen–and so much more–are all discussed with flair, gentle good humor and kindness by the two authors. The book never gets bogged down in serious discussions of sex, using long words. At several points in the read, I found myself laughing out loud. Now that's how to talk about sex!

And because the book is written as a conversation, the reader never feels targeted or spoken at. Instead, we are participants in a sweet, funny conversation between mom and daughter. In short it's everything your mom never told you about sex, and everything your daughter will never tell you about sex.

Maybe you've read my book, Hello Cruel World—it's about how to make yourself a life more worth living. Well, great sex is a great way to make life more worth living, and if you liked my book, you're gonna love this one. It's a sex advice book for the rest of us, whether we're a mom, a daughter, or both–whether we're a father, a son, or any combination of the above. Highly recommended.

Currently, the book is available for Kindle, and you can get your copy right hereHave fun with it. I did!

A Queer and Pleasant Danger — any minute now!

QPDcoverMy memoir hits the shelves on Tuesday, May 1st, and I am SO DARNED EXCITED FOR YOU TO READ THIS BOOK! Before I sat down to write the first draft, I got myself a tattoo on the back of my left hand. It says "I must not tell lies." So, A Queer and Pleasant Danger is the truth of me. It's not theory or stagecraft, it's just me. The book is dedicated to my daughter and grandchildren—all of whom are currently members in good standing of the Church of Scientology. Since I've been excommunicated from that cult/religion, no one who's a Scientologist in good standing with the established church is allowed to speak with me.

So, that makes this book the biggest truth of me I've ever written—in hopes that my daughter and grandchildren may one day break free and have a look. But you can read it, too. If you're reading this blog, you're interested in me and/or my work, and for that I'm grateful. Well, this memoir will give you a better look at the roots of all my academic and political words. I hope it makes you laugh. And I 'm sorry—really I am—but parts of the story will likely make you cry. I try to make up for that with pages that leave you gasping out loud.

Thank you for reading me. You can buy the book NOW from from: your friendly local Independent Bookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Powells.

kiss kiss,

Kate

Quotes

"A Queer and Pleasant Danger is a brave, funny, edgy, and enlightening new memoir. I loved it and learned from it. Kate Bornstein shares her fascinating journey—through gender, Scientology, and more—and it was a thrill to tag along on the ride. This book is unbelievably powerful and affecting. If Kate Bornstein didn't exist, we would have to invent her. But luckily for queers, straights, gender outlaws, and general readers, Bornstein is out and out there."

— Dan Savage, author, columnist, and architect of the "It Gets Better Project" 

“I read A Queer and Pleasant Danger over four nights in a bathtub and bed and was totally transported to Kate Bornstein’s world. Kate boldly lets us look under the hood of her own transformations as Jew, Scientologist, boy, girl, Buddhist and parent, leaving us with a richer understanding of the true identity underneath: human. A Queer and Pleasant Danger is a page turner, making sweet love to the paradoxes we all face."

— Amanda Palmer, musician and co-founder of The Dresden Dolls


"To me, Kate Bornstein is like a mythological figure or a historical literary character such as Orlando or Candide who, by illustrating her struggles, shows the rest of us how to live. This book is destined to become a classic."

— Mx Justin Vivian Bond, author of Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels 


"Kate Bornstein's journey from moon-eyed Scientologist to queer icon is harrowing, heartbreaking, and amazing. This narrative is surely not for the squeamish. And yet, in the story of a sea-dog named Al who became a trans goddess named Kate, we see the messy, unsettling, inspiring struggle of a lady trying—and at last succeeding—to let her own soul be known. Disturbing and wondrous."

Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of She's Not There and I'm Looking Through You 

—————–

So, it's exciting! And, one more time: you can buy the book NOW from from: your friendly local Independent Bookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Powells.

Contact Beacon Press for a review copy, or to arrange an interview with YOU and ME! 

Deconstructing Sexuality

This blog is part of a series I'm writing while I'm updating the fifteen year old "My Gender Workbook" for Routledge Press. I'm asking for your voice to be included in the spiffy new version, because you are so much more than the first version of the book could have predicted. Every couple of days, I'll be posting a new question for you to ponder. If the question tickles your fancy, by all means please speak to it. For more about this update, check out the original blog. Thanks for your help.

I'm trying to break down sexuality into its component parts. If you're reading this blog, you know that sexuality is more than the gender of your partner(s). And if you've been reading my twibe's tweets about asexuality, you know that sexuality doesn't always include sex. So, what are the components?

Here's what I've come up with so far. I'm asking for your input: besides the following factors (in varying degrees in different people), what else is a component of a person's sexuality?

INTEREST IN SEX

BODY PARTS, CONFIGURATIONS, & IMAGE

GENDER ASSIGNMENT, IDENTITY & EXPRESSION

SENSATION

EROTIC/EROGENOUS ENHANCEMENTS & TOYS

LOCATION & TIMING

PERCEPTION & COMMUNICATION

DEBGREES OF CONSENT

TRUST, VULNERABILITY, PRIVACY & INTIMACY

CONFIDENCE & POWER DYNAMICS

SAFETY

LOVE & ROMANCE

PARTNERING

COMMUNITY, SOCIAL SKILLS, & INTERACTION

COMFORT & RISK

WHIMSY, FANTASY, FLIRTATION & PLAYFULNESS

MORALITY

INTELLIGENCE, SPRITUALITY & WISDOM

HUMOR & COMEDY

EMPATHY & RESPECT

COMPATIBILITY *

* I'm tying compatibility to placing varying degrees of importance upon perceived gender, race, age, class, religion, sexuality, looks, ability, mental health, family/
reproductive status, language, habitat, citizenship, political ideology, and humanity.

So… what else goes into defining a person's sexuality? The first draft of My New Gender Workbook is coming into the home stretch. Looking forward to your comments and tweets!

kiss kiss

Auntie Kate

Reminder: You can answer in the comments section of this blog, but Twitter is the very best way to respond. Response length, wherever you do it, is maximum 280 characters, two tweels. Your tweets do NOT have to be addressed to me, but DO remember to put the hashtag #MNGW on ALL your tweets about this or any other gender-y thing that might pop into your adorable li'l head.

 

Got Ecstasy?

No, not the party drug. I'm talking about the real deal: that great big whoopee. Have you got some of that? Have you ever had some of that? Want some? Oh, do read on.

129038086I’m thrilled to kick off the blog tour for the new book by Barbara Carrellas: Ecstasy Is Necessary: a practical guide. This is an awesome book—one of those must-have manuals for making our lives more worth living. It may come as a surprise to some that Ecstasy Is Necessary is not a book about sex. Rather, it's a book that pulls back the curtain behind sex—and gives us a peek at why sex is such a big deal. Ecstasy Is Necessary is a book about why there are so many different ways we choose to do or not do sex.

People are going to be looking at this book from many different perspectives, and I think it’s fair that you know more about the person who wrote it and why you can trust her. Full disclosure: Miss Barbara is my girlfriend, my art partner, the love of my life and my BFF. August 2012 marks our 15th anniversary. Barbara and I are objects in space, locked into each other’s gravitational field, so I know a lot about this woman and what she’s capable of.

 Here’s how I look at my girlfriend’s book:

It starts off with a gutsy-as-all-hell title. Ecstasy is necessary? Yep. And this is indeed a practical guide. The book, after all, comes out from Hay House Publishing—the awesome international self-help publishing company founded by Louise Hay, a woman who has saved countless lives. Her gabillion-selling book, You Can Heal Your Life provided much comfort to many gay men at the height of the AIDS epidemic in the USA. The life-saving miracles that Louise Hay accomplished on a spiritual/psychic level, Barbara regularly accomplishes today on a spiritual/body level.

At the same time Louise Hay was working her magic in the 1980’s, Barbara Carrellas was a Broadway baby—a general manager in the New York City theater scene. The height of the AIDS epidemic was a hard time for her—she was losing up to four dear friends a week. Barbara was heart-broken. She joined the New York Healing Circle to help teach people with AIDS how to have great safer sex. That's where she became fast friends with sexpert pioneers, Joseph Kramer and Annie Sprinkle. Not that Barbara was a stranger to sex. It's not my place to give you details, but don't worry—Barbara doesn't spare details of her personal sex life stories in the book. Goodness gracious, they're delicious.

Barbara Carrellas' unique sexual orientation has always been an inspiration to me. Barbara has sex in order to experience a connection with the goddess—the earth—the cosmos—whatever you want to call the great big good. Sex for Barbara is a doorway to the ecstasy you see in the faces of the saints—in those early paintings of their moment of connection with God. That kind of ecstasy. Want some for yourself? Me too. So, let’s jump to the sub-title of the book: a practical guide. 

Barbara Carrellas is a skilled guide and workshop leader who’s developed techniques by which anyone who wants to can achieve ecstasy. Her book is a step-by-step exploration of the unique ecstatic frontiers of our lives. Yes, that discovery might be made through sex and erotic energy, but not necessarily. Carrellas posits that often the road to ecstasy lies in the direction of the more risky areas of our lives, whatever those may be. The following ten steps are section headings in the chapter, “Erotic Risk-Taking: Playing With Fire:”

Erotic Risk-Taking in Ten Simple Steps

  1. Find your turn-on.
  2. Consider the risk.
  3. Make a commitment.
  4. Find support.
  5. Enjoy the anticipation.
  6. Jump into the water.
  7. Release the need to be perfect.
  8. Rest and regroup.
  9. Try, try again… or don’t.
  10. Surrender and enjoy.

How’s your risk-taking been lately, anyway? Barbara writes pages about each step, but I bet you could put this list to use today in some fashion. I can tell you that since I read this section of the book, I can't imagine taking a risk—erotic or otherwise—without taking all of these steps.

Ecstasy Is Necessary takes woo-woo to hitherto unexplored edges. Barbara follows her own advice about risk taking, and she tells us some hair raising stories: from braving her extreme claustrophobia by climbing into an FMRI machine to measure her brain waves during a breath-and-energy orgasm (commonly referred to as “thinking off”)—to taking a class in branding with the legendary Fakir Musafar. Yes, branding—like hot metal to the skin, sizzle sizzle. Thankfully, Barbara is such a talented and good-hearted writer, she makes that story easy to read. Nevertheless, it may be a challenge for you to read and put this book to use in your life. Ecstasy always is challenging. So please, ask yourself…

Have you ever had a moment of ecstasy?

If so, would you like to regularly re-create that moment?

If not, would you like to find out what the big deal is all about?

In closing, allow me please to say that if you’re reading this, you're most likely already some sort of sex and gender explorer. Or maybe you’re an artist—or you're a nerd. Maybe you're little or a lot crazy, and your craziness is your greatest superpower. Or you're some combination of all of the above. In any case, you’re my people. Well, Barbara wrote this book for us. It’s one thing to explore and acknowledge our identities—it’s quite another to understand that who we are is precisely how we can live ecstatic lives. That’s what Ecstasy Is Necessary is going to help you discover—I promise. Buy Barbara Carrellas' new book, and find yourself some ecstasy. I bet you need it. I know you deserve it. 

kiss kiss,

Kate Bornstein

PS: Almost forgot to tell you! Got any questions or comments? Barbara will be available to respond to you in the comments section here on Thursday March 1st. xoxo K

 

Beyond LGBTQQIA etc, Who’s a Member of Our Club?

This blog is part of a series I'm writing while I'm updating the fifteen year old "My Gender Workbook" for Routledge Press. I'm asking for your voice to be included in the spiffy new version, because you are so much more than the first version of the book could have predicted. Every couple of days, I'll be posting a new question for you to ponder. If the question tickles your fancy, by all means please speak to it. For more about this update, check out the original blog. Thanks for your help.

The designation LGBT is problematic for many reasons, but primarily:

  1. LGBT conflates identities based on sexualities with identities based on gender. That's not problematic, because both sexuality and gender have roots in desire and desireability—so we fit together just fine, even though we are two spaces of categorization.
  2. LGBT—the four letters, and even a few more—doesn't begin to cover the number of people who claim identities that hinge on sexuality and gender. This is a problem, because people get left out or they're actively barred from membership and that's just not right. It's way past the time when we can exclude people based on shades of meaning. 

Over the past few years, I've been putting together a list of claimed identities who hinge on gender anarchy and sex positivity. These are the people I want to hang out with. These are the people whose activism I would support, and whose rights I would stand up for. With your help, I've increased the list from 141 identities to 185!! I know that I'm far from done. I need your help, please, to finish this list. Kindly let me know what identities I've missed, and what identities I may have erroneously added to the list.

I'm particularly interested in regional slang, and names of identities from countries other than North America. I'm not looking for names that other people may call us in order to shame or degrade us—but if we use one or more of those words for ourselves with pride and dignity, then it goes on the list. In some cases, I've made words up—I've indicated these with an asterisk, and I'll be defining them in the list that ends up going into the workbook.

Here are the requirements for membership

  1. The identity is based in outlawed or marginalized sexuality or gender. I sum that up as gender anarchy and sex positivity.
  2. Those who've got more privilege than others use their privilege to uplift, support and encourage others.
  3. No members can be mean to others.

So, here's the updated PDF of people I'd like to have in my clubhouse: Download GASP 2

See if you can spot yourself on the list thus far. Let me know who I've missed, or anyone I've added by mistake. I'll try to update the list daily, so keep checking back so you don't miss out on any of the fun.

Thank you so much.

Auntie Kate

PS — if there's a word or identity on this list you don't know, give it a google!

Reminder: You can answer in the comments section of this blog, but Twitter is the very best way to respond. Response length, wherever you do it, is maximum 280 characters, two tweels. Your tweets do NOT have to be addressed to me, but DO remember to put the hashtag #MNGW on ALL your tweets about this or any other gender-y thing that might pop into your adorable li'l head.

Sex-and-Gender: Social Justice Give-and-Take

This blog is part of a series I'm writing while I'm updating the fifteen year old "My Gender Workbook" for Routledge Press. I'm asking for your voice to be included in the spiffy new version, because you are so much more than the first version of the book could have predicted. Every couple of days, I'll be posting a new question for you to ponder. If the question tickles your fancy, by all means please speak to it. For more about this update, check out the original blog. Thanks for your help.

Today's questions are deceptively simple and unfathomably important:

As sex and gender activists, what rights and resources must we demand?

Of what value is our sex and gender activism to allied activists of other marginalized groups?

From bathrooms to housing—from the wording of legal documents to job and health care equity—from issues of personal privacies and joys, to safety for ourselves and our loved ones—so much is monitored and regulated by our sexualities and our genders. For over a century, political activism on behalf of sex and gender has gained more and more momentum. To date, most social justice has focused on our needs, raising questions such as:

  • In what spheres of life are we denied equal rights because of our sexualities and genders?
  • What resources are witheld from us because of our sexualities and genders?
  • How does our sexuality-and/or-gender impact our safety?

Our needs and demands range from equal pay for equal work, to gender neutral bathrooms. We want religious freedom that isn't curtailed in any way by our sexuality or gender. We want the freedom to love who and how we want to love. We want the freedom to do with our bodies as we will. We want to strike down any laws that discriminate against or prohibit any expression of sex and gender freedom. 

And as the politics of sex and gender becomes more widely practiced and interlinked with the activism of other marginalized groups, it's becoming more and more clear that we need to link arms with other social activists in a coalition of the margins. So, we're faced with new questions:

  • What have we got to offer the world as sex and gender activists?
  • What do sex/gender activists bring to the table of any coalition of marginalized people?
  • As focused as we are on sex and gender, what have we learned that we can teach other activists?

We've gotten really good at deconstructing binaries of sexuality and gender. And that means we have a great deal to offer other activists in terms of deconstructing the equally corrosive binaries associated with race, age, class, and so on. What's more, we know that sex and gender are a valid pathway to ecstasy—and who doesn't need some more ecstasy in their life? So… what tools, resources, and other goodies have we got to put on the table of social justice to let other activists know we're in it for more than just our own gain?

I look forward to your thoughtful insight and foresight.

kiss kiss

Auntie Kate

Reminder: You can answer in the comments section of this blog, but Twitter is the very best way to respond. Response length, wherever you do it, is maximum 280 characters, two tweels. Your tweets do NOT have to be addressed to me, but DO remember to put the hashtag #MNGW on ALL your tweets about this or any other gender-y thing that might pop into your adorable li'l head.

Seeking 101 Gender Outlaws

This blog is part of a series I'm writing while I'm updating the fifteen year old "My Gender Workbook" for Routledge Press. I'm asking for your voice to be included in the spiffy new version, because you are so much more than the first version of the book could have predicted. Every couple of days, I'll be posting a new question for you to ponder. If the question tickles your fancy, by all means please speak to it. For more about this update, check out the original blog. Thanks for your help.

In the original version of My Gender Workbook, I sent out a request for identities. I wanted to show the vast number of ways that people define their gendered lives. A lot of people wove their gender and sexuality identities together. Many included race, age, ability and class as more or less primary gender modifiers in their lives. Some gender outlaws broke rules of gender in simple yet profound ways.

You can take a look at the current list of 101 Gender Outlaws answering the question "Who am I" on pages 80 to 89 of My Gender Workbook. But there's no need to look at the list to describe yourself, right?

So now… how about yourself? Please write me a couple of sentences that describes how you break the rules of gender along with the influence of any number of the following factors:

race — age — class — religion — sexuality

humanity — looks — ability — mental health 

family/
reproductive status — language

habitat— citizenship—political ideology

These factors are in no particular order, and the list is by no means complete. But a lot of our gender is dependent on modifications from at least a couple of factors from this list. I'm calling them vectors of oppression or, more benignly, spaces of regulation. Each of these factors privileges us or limits us or regulates our lives. And each of these factors has a direct impact on our genders—making us gender outlaws. 

You DO NOT have to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer — there's LOTS of other ways to break dominant culture's rules of gender. Please tell me yours!

NEW EXPANDED SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR THIS QUESTION ONLY

Twitter is the very best way to answer. Response length is maximum 420 characters, THREE tweels maximum for this particular question. Your tweets do NOT have to be addressed to me, but DO remember to put the hashtag #MNGW on ALL your tweets about this or any other gender-y thing that might pop into your adorable li'l head. 

If you're so amazing and/or complex that it's going to take longer than three tweets, that's just fine. You can answer in the comments section of this blog, or you can email your answer to mynewgenderworkbook at gmail dot com. Please do try to keep it to a couple of sentence maximum. 

kiss kiss

Auntie Kate

What God Taught Me About Gender.

This blog is part of a series I'm writing while I'm undating the fifteen year old "My Gender Workbook" for Routledge Press. I'm asking for your voice to be included in the spiffy new version, because you are so much more than the first version of the book could have predicted. Every couple of days, I'll be posting a new question for you to ponder. If the question tickles your fancy, by all means please speak to it. Be sure you've read the submission guidelines before you write your answer. Thanks for your help.

Kindly excuse the delay in posting. Nasty flu, now simply a bothersome cold. OK—back to working some gender. Today’s topic has been a big one for me, so I’m going to ask about it in two questions:

How has religion—or absence thereof—impacted your gender?

How has your spiritual path impacted your gender?

Here's where asking those two questions led me:

I was born in 1948 and raised to a teenager in a more or less secular Jewish family. We lit candles on the menorah, which stood on it's own table in front of our Christmas tree. My Bar Mitzvah was not an inspiring leap forward into manhood—it was an annoyance. As to gender—we knew there were strong women in the Old Testament, but nobody talked about them very much. The Judaism I grew up with was focused on the elements of the Old Testament that matched up with 1950's rampant machismo version of misognyny: men were better, more evolved, and more entitled humans than women. That was a given when I was growing up.

After my Bar Mitzvah, I pretty much cut ties with Judaism. If they had known who and what I really was—wanna-be-pretty-girl me? I would have been shunned. No, really. How often do you get to use the word shunned. Well, I would have been. So I lied about my gender for years and years. How about you? How was your gender shaped by the religion you grew up with? Or maybe it was the complete lack of a religion in your life that effected the expression of your gender?

In college, I studied and practiced tarot cards, Zen Buddhism, Alan Watts, and R.D. Laing. But as a stage actor and director, theater became my spiritual path. Gender is a whole lot more flexible in the theater, but back in the sixties, that only meant onstage. I knew there were a lot of boys who went off to live their lives as fabulous girls, but I was too scared to be one of them. It was safer to believe in Stanislavski, Jerzy Grotowski, John Cage, Bertolt Brecht, Peter Brook, and Viola Spolin. For four years, I trained in the methodology of transforming myself into someone else completely. It was heaven—except for my gender quandary. I still couldn’t talk about that. So I lied and said I was a guy at the same time I was learning the mechanics and spirituality it would take to become a girl. Theater was my spirit path. And you? Have you taken a road less travelled on your personal journey of self discovery?

After a year of graduate school, I dove head first into the Church of Scientology, where I stayed for twelve years. That’s a really embarrassing thing for me to tell people—far more difficult than telling strangers I’m an SM femme tranny dyke. Anyway, when I joined Scientology in 1970, they told me it wasn't a religion at all—they insisted that it was an applied religious philosophy. I never joined a religion, and I left Scientology in the early 1980's, just as all the religious trappings were becoming mandatory and more visible.

But here's what hooked me on Scientology: they told me I’m not my body and I’m not my mind. They told me I don’t have a soul—I am a soul, an inconceivably powerful immortal being that nobody had ever conceived of or named before, so they called it a thetan. Americans pronounce it to rhyme with Satan. Scientologists say that thetan comes from the Greek word theta, which they say means pure thought. I believed that we are pure thought—and implicit in that statement is the impossibility of a gendered thetan. It was a cool thing to believe in. Still is. Wait, there’s more.

Scientologists believe that at a certain point in your spiritual development, you can pick your own body next lifetime. Implicit in that was oh my god, I could be a girl next lifetime… if only I get to that spiritual whoopee place they were talking about. And sure enough, it was my gender that got in the way.

Homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny are explicit in the original versions of Scientology's canon. Someone recently told me that after I left the church, it was announced to the hundreds of staff I worked with—all my friends and family—that I liked to wear women’s underwear—and everyone laughed at me. That's exactly what I tried to avoid those twelve years by pretending to be a man. What I never got about Scientology is knowing that thetans really don't have a gender—and living their lives with an unconscious performance of the genders man and woman—why would they get their panties in a twist if I want to consciously mess around with my own gender?

Nowadays, I get my gender, showbiz & spirituality tips from Doctor Who, Mx Justin Vivian Bond, Murray Hill, and Lady Gaga. And that's how religion and spirituality have impacted my gender, and how gender has been my spiritual path. I would sum all that up by saying:

Living with no gender allows me to live with all genders. How do I live with no gender? I look for where gender is, and I go someplace else. Where do I look for gender? It's held tightly in the clenched fists of people who claim to know what's a real man and what's a real woman. I stay far away from them.

Yep, I could squeeze all that into two tweets with hashtags in both.

How about you?

  • Has any revelation of your gender gotten you shamed by your religion?
  • Has your gender effected your decison to attend or not attend services? What cool stuff have you learned from your religion that you can apply to your gender?
  • What religious rules of gender did you obey when you were a little kid?
  • Which rules did you break when you were a little kid, and what happened to you when you broke ‘em? 
  • Has any conscious decision you’ve made about your gender effected your spiritual/religious path? What does that feel like?
  • Have you found yourself a religious and/or spiritual path that accepts and embraces the concepts of transgender and genderqueer? What’s that? How did you come across that one?
  • Does spirituality and/or religion have nothing the fuck to do with your gender, and all this talk has been bullshit or just plain wacky?

The fact that you got this far into the blog tells me you’re the kind of person who might give this stuff more thought. That makes your voice really important in the world. So… please write me some words about you. Your lifetime experience of religion and/or spirituality or lack thereof—how has that entwined with the lifetime experience of gender?

I know this is a lot to think about—that's why I asked two questions: it means you can take two tweets (280 characters that include hashtag #mngw) to answer each question. That's a total of 560 characters that includes #mngw four times. Fair? Alright then, please do tweet away, my darlings. Or put some comments on this page. Be brave, remember to breathe, and always go for the cheap laugh.

Kiss kiss

Auntie Kate

Reminder: You can answer in the comments section of this blog, but Twitter is the very best way to respond. Response length, wherever you do it, is maximum 280 characters, two tweels. Your tweets do NOT have to be addressed to me, but DO remember to put the hashtag #MNGW on ALL your tweets about this or any other gender-y thing that might pop into your adorable li'l head.

 

Toward a Politic of Desire

I've been tip-toeing around the idea of a politic of desire, and I just started to get a handle on it when I spoke last November at the Transcending Boundaries Conference (TBC). They'd asked me to talk on the conference theme which was, that year, "beyond the binary." I was in the throes of deadlines for my memoir, and I had no fucking idea of what to write. The night before I was supposed to give my keynote, I skipped out on a performance by my friend, Kelli Dunham, and sat in my room writing notes on hotel stationery until maybe three in the morning.

The next day, I got dressed in my Battlestar Galactica Colonial Fleet fatigues—I was being old lady Starbuck—I needed her madness and her courage to help me get through the talk, which I delievered haltingly. It was new, and I was saying some of these words for the first time—or they were going in the order they were going in for the first time. I needn't have worried. The audience at the conference could not have been more encouraging or welcoming.

Much of what I talked about in the keynote is going to wind up in My New Gender Workbook, due out from Routledge Press in November 2012. Short deadline. So I'd like to have a conversation with you about this notion of a politic of desire. Yes, I'll check this blog at least once daily and I'll dialogue with you about the subject. I think it's an important one, and I think your voice is going to be instrumental in making the notion real and accessible.

So… if you like, please have a read of the text I dictated from those scribbled notes. 

Download KB_keynote_TBC_2012

OK—let's give it a stab at talking together, here in the comment section. Be gentle with me, it's a way early draft. And thank you for your participation.

kiss kiss

Auntie Kate