Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends

I began this blog on Sunday, Feb 16. I wrote that it was a bleak winter’s day in the city. You couldn’t really walk the sidewalks, you more or less had to shuffle along without lifting your feet. Storm after storm after storm here in the city, and most of us had given up trying to clear the stairs and sidewalks… or our salt ran out. The dogs were thoroughly delighted to be indoors and warm. They’re paper trained, but I wouldn’t give either of them an A+. The cats grudgingly adapted to the constant indoor doggie presence. The cats are raptors, see, with all their senses fine-tuned toward food that either B or I might have left out. To the cats, the dogs are a stinky, annoying distraction to the hunt. (We found that out through our animal communicator.) For Bruce the turtle, it might as well have been a blue-sky spring afternoon. Inside his terrarium, it nearly always is. And Barbara and I had a really sweet Sunday together, back when I began to write this blog. Well, I finished and posted it today, Wednesday, Feb 19. My next chemo treatment is tomoro. The chemo is causing me big time discomfort but no pain and I’m not throwing up. My brain comes and goes. I’m grateful that there’s no more to the side effects than that. (Knock wood!)

Two more weeks of treatments after tomoro's, THEN B & I go to Iceland to celebrate our birthdays (mine: March 15th & Barbara’s: March 16th). We found an awesome package last year when I first found out that chemo round one had worked, and the cancer was, for the time being, gone. Here’s our Iceland package: we’ve got five nights & 6 days hotel, a pass to the Blue Lagoon, a boat trip if the northern lights are shining, AND we've found a stable where we can go to ride short, stubby Icelandic horses!! (I think my knees are going to drag along the ground.) The day after we’re back, I begin 5 more weeks of weekly chemo and daily (weekdays) radiation. Then some more chemo for the fuck of it. Then I'm done. Or done for. Ha!!

I owe YOU my life. Truth. So, thanks. Huh. Just writing that makes me want to stay alive even more. Funny, how that works. I'm diving back into Buddhism. It was my first really deep mind/spirit puzzler, back in college and in the 60s. Koans blew me away, and Zen slapstick tickled my funny bone in a most delightful way. Now, I'm more into Tibetan Buddhism, and I'm boning up on wisdom and compassion. This, along with my dialectic behavioral therapy skills, is keeping me remarkably stable during this time. I’ll blog more when I can articulate what exactly it might be that I’m learning.

OK, here’s what’s not been a joy about this time: I’ve had to cancel my entire winter/spring touring season, over a dozen engagements that I was SO looking forward to. I’m sorry to disappoint—do know that I’m disappointed as well. I’m asking for rain checks from all the schools who wanted me to come speak or perform. Now… if you’re looking for an awesome speaker or act to bring to your campus or event, please consider contacting my booking agent, Jean Caiani at SpeakOut – the Institute for Democratic Education & Culture. These are way cool, leftie folks who make space for more radical leftie, loving voices. I really enjoy working with SpeakOut, and I know you will too.

Sad to say, I’ve also had to cancel out on International Ms. Leather, where I was slated to be both a judge and the keynote speaker. Most sincere regrets to the leather ladies of all genders. I was SO looking forward to being there with you at the reboot of such a wonderful BDSM gathering. I’m grateful and pleased that my replacement is none other than my pal & co-editor of Gender Outlaws: the next generation— the gallant, wise, well-spoken, and sexy S. Bear Bergman. Wishing him and you all a terrific time of it.

In closing—wow—I’ve finished this—it’s a beautiful, bright sunny winter’s day in the city, and that brings me to the very last thing I wanted to tell you: in what mode has your Auntie decided to face this round of treatment. Well, darling, I’m going for perky. Yes indeedy! Move over, Mary Tyler Moore. (Miss Holly Hughes says I’m more than Moore, and she wants to be my Lou Grant! Oh, purr.) Yep, perky me—that’s how I’m looking at these days of mine: with a smile on my face, a song in my heart, and a dance in every footstep.

I love you, and I’ll be in touch again sooner or later.

kiss kiss

Auntie Kate

PS: In the spirit of perkiness, here are some signals I’d like to boost.

Art Saves Lives

I’m a firm believer in the notion that art saves lives. To that end, I wanna support some artists who are dear to me:

1) Photographer, and queer arts impresario, SD Holman has kick-started a project called “Butch: Not like the other girls.” The title alone should tell you why it’s a no-brainer that I’m backing this project.I was supposed to contribute some writing to this piece, but then my cancer took over my life’s priorities. Do check it out and contribute if you can, cuz its a jaw-dropper, a real yum-dinger.

Stand like wonder woman2) I know songwriter Steven Alvarado from Twitter. Recently, I put out a call for help in dealing with nameless fears. Steven tweeted me back saying, “Stand like Wonder Woman.” I tried it. It worked—I felt better! Now, Mr. Alvarado is in a pickle and needs help with his rent. If standing like Wonder Woman makes you feel better, please help Steven out with his rent.

Reading Books Saves Lives

I can’t read much when my brain’s all foggy, but here’s what’s on my reading cue just now. These are my spirit books. I’m reading and re-reading these books by His Holiness, The Dalai Lama:

1) Advice on Dying, and Living a Better Life
2) The Essence of the Heart Sutra
3) Practicing Wisdom

For my physical #stayalive regimens, I’m reading these:

1) all of Kris Carr’s books on Crazy, Sexy Cancer
2) Healing Spices, by Bharat B. Aggarwal, PhD, with Debora Yost
3) Life Over Cancer, by Keith Block & Andrew Weil MD

These are the fun books up on my cue, to read when I can’t write or just need to live inside someone else’s words besides my own:

1) The Rhapsody of Blood trilogy by Roz Kaveney
2) Redefining Realness, by Janet Mock
3) Changers, Book One, by T Cooper & Allison Glock-Cooper
4) The Reason I Jump, by Naoki Higashida & David Mitchell
5) The Sandman: Overture, by Neil Gaiman
6) Christian Science, by Mark Twain


The Cat Came Back

Hello, Dear Heart

My lung cancer is back—not in my lung, but in some lymph node. Here comes surgery, chemo, and radiation again. Now, kindly allow me to put this in a perspective and context that I promise is NOT scary. Really, I’m doing super well with this, and I’ve got a lot to tell you that I’m finding out, so please hang in here with me. Trust me, I’m The Auntie.

Right, history first: I was first diagnosed with lung cancer on September 24, 2012. I had surgery to remove the upper lobe of my right lung. The surgical team tried real hard, but they didn’t get it all. Normally, I would’ve gone straight on to chemo and radiation. But a big deal medical oncologist determined that there was no chemo that would work on me. If I wanted to live, he told me, it had to be by radiation alone. To be fair, the doctor was confronted by a challenge in me. I’ve got a whacky health status and, an immune system compromised by chronic lymphocytic leukemia that was first diagnosed in 1996. Plus, I’ve got a body grown on testosterone, that’s now running on estrogen. Genital conversion surgery aside, I’m minus a gall bladder, half a liver, and 12 inches of intestine. I’ve got cervical dystonia and scoliosis. I’m a rambling wreck! And, hello… I’m OLD! (Oh yes, I am. More on that later.) But y’know what the last straw was—the final thing about me that would bar me from all approved chemo regimens? Tinnitus. All my life, I’ve had a ringing in my ears. I didn’t learn until high school that I was the only one hearing all those mad bells and buzzers. I thought you heard them, too… all the time, like me. Well, tinnitus is a common side-effect of most chemo, and what it could do to me was make me deaf, and maybe even kill me. Like in Buffy or Haven, blood would leak out of my ears and I’d die, that’s what he implied anyway. Yes, honey, I do tend to exaggerate, but truly: it was the ringing in my ears when the big deal medical oncologist threw up his hands and, with a look of pity, handed me over to the radiologist.

My girlfriend and I did a lot a research—friends gave us terrific advice for alternative treatments. Through my touring work and book income, I’ve been able to pay for insurance that covered me fairly well for medicorp-government-approved procedures. But I had insufficient money to cover any forms of treatment outside the approved regimens—not to mention the cost of living while getting those treatments. That’s when my miracle happened. That’s when some friends came to my side. Thousands and thousands of friends and family came to my side. Maybe one was you—maybe you sent me money and/or you sent me love. One week of crowd-sourcing raised me over $100,000. Thousands of you. Thousands of people told me they love me. Can you imagine what a lasting blow that was to my low self-esteem?!

Well, the money raised covered it all. Thank you. Acting on the advice of Kris Carr, I found a clinic in Chicago where the doctors did their homework and found a chemo treatment that had just passed a stage two clinical trial. I began chemo on my birthday, March 15 2013, and I continued to travel to Chicago every three weeks through June. At the same time, I received 33 days of radiation, here in New York City. And it all worked. The cancer was gone, and it had been a year to the day since I was first diagnosed. Such relief and joy!! I had six amazing cancer-free months, during which I got back out on the road for some unforgettably wonderful engagements. What’s more, I’ve had the time and circumstances and good health to begin a novella—a book I’m writing just for the love of writing it. It’s delightful fiction that I’ve been wanting to write now for over a decade, but other books needed to come first. As of this past Christmas, I’d got through the first two chapters. Then, on December 30th, a PET CT revealed, and a fine-needle aspiration confirmed: yep, the lung cancer is back.

Darling, those were always the odds. That’s how cancer works. So now, I’m simply moving on with the next phase of living with cancer: more treatment. Treatment this time around begins with surgery at the end of January—then weekly chemo + daily radiation starting probably in the second week of February.
As to my touring schedule, I’m still working out my calendar with the doctors, but I’ve confirmed that I can do my week-long, six-city tour of Wisconsin, February 3-8. After that, I’ll do my very best to make all the gigs I’m already committed to. And for now, my booking calendar is closed for any new engagements before May or June. I hate to disappoint, and I thank you for your kind understanding.

Dear heart, please know I am dealing REALLY WELL with this. Of course I get scared, and I’ve named my fear as a realistic dread of the inevitably noxious side-effects of chemo and radiation. BUT… I’m not beating myself up for feeling scared, and I’m changing my perspective by reflecting on the delightful paradox: chemo and radiation are exactly what’s gonna let me live longer. Wanting to live longer is new for me. I’m not used to it. But I like it. Why do I wanna live longer? Well… for you. Truly. I so enjoy being your old auntie, and what’s an old auntie without her nieces and nephews?? So, fuck dread. And fuck cancer. I’m gonna write another non-fiction book about my life with cancer… I’ll get to that after I write my novella. See, now? I do plan to be around for awhile. That’ll get me two new books, and (lots) more time with you. I’m so looking forward to that. Thank you for your love.

Kiss kiss

Auntie Kate


Great News, Good Hope

Dear Twibe,

Here’s the bullet: The docs have scanned me, and the scan came back and
it says two wonderful things: 1) There are no new cancer cells in my
body and 2) The places where there was cancer have shrunk a LOT
already. So the chemo and the radiation, and the supplements and change
of diet are WORKING. Holy crap and yippee! It’s the best possible
post-chemo scan a person can get. AND I’m still not out of the woods.
Here’s what it means. It means I’ve got a good hope.

I’ve never been a big one for hope, but I always fall into it. There’s
dumb hopes, and greedy hopes, and impossible hopes, and tragic hopes.
But every now and then, you get a good hope, and with this scan, I just
got one.

The purpose of this scan is to determine a baseline picture of cancer
in my body, to match up against a more accurate PET scan that I’ll get
in 2 to 3 months. Why wait 2-3 months? I’m done with chemotherapy and
radiation, but they’re not done with me. The radiation and chemo are
going to keep working in my body for at least that long. And THAT means
I’m going to be chemo-brained, exhausted, and weak for that time. BUT
A special thank you to everyone who contributed to my GoFundMe account.
You made this possible. Yes you did: you bought me my new diet, my trips
to Chicago, my nutritional supplements—in short, you kept me alive.
Thank you so very much. I've got good hope. 
I have such a good hope that I’m booking gigs. The earliest I’ve got
right now is a week in USA’s heartland in mid-September. If you’d like
to book me to speak or perform this fall, winter or spring, please
tweet me @katebornstein, or send me an email at my touring account,
katebornstein at earthlink dot net. Please be kind and only use this
address for touring questions.
OK—living with hope is new for me, so here I go. I promise I’ll keep
eating well, taking my supplements, and exercising as I can. It took an
awfully long time for me to write this, but when I get more of a brain
I’ll write some more, I promise that too. So, have good hope. I love




Still Transitioning After All These Years

Dear Heart,

It's been just over three months since my robotic lung surgery. Doc
removed the top third of my right lung. Last Thursday, I got the
results of a new PET CT.

The good news is they got all the lung cancer tumor. There's no cancer
growing in my lungs. The not so good news is that a couple of cancer
cells found their way into my lymphatic system, and they're spreading
out from the site of the original tumor, more quickly than any of the
docs are happy with. I'll be meeting with radiologists and oncologists
and naturopaths and psychics this week, and then I'll know more about
my treatment options.

Ever since my diagnosis back in September and surgery in October, I've
had to examine the very real possibility of the great big goodbye.
Every time I've looked hard at it, I've come up with the same
conclusion: I'd rather stay alive. To this day, that's still the truth of it.

I'm not saying that what I'm going through now is the great big final
cattle chute to the grave, but I need to treat it like it is—if only
for rehearsal's sake. All my life, I've been curious about Death to the
point of establishing a pretty good relationship with Her Ladyship.
Now, it's time to establish that kind of a relationship with Life. My
pal, Caitlin Sullivan, came up with that equation.

If you've read any of my books, you probably ran across one of my
favorite Zen koans:

    The way you do anything is the way you do everything.

In other words, I can look at everything I do in my life through the
lens of "this is just a rehearsal for everything else I have to do in
life." I look at gender that way. There's a meta in gender that can be
applied to other cultural binaries like race, age, class, and
citizenship, among others. I wonder how much of what I've learned in
postmodern gender theory will apply to the binary of life & death.

Whether I'm dying now or later isn't what's important. That I'm in the
middle of yet another transition is what's important. And it doesn't matter
whether or not I initiated this transition. What matters is how
conscious I am, as this transition is moving forward.

So… my thoughts and life focus are switching gears. Again. And since
you read my stuff, I thought it safe enough to tell you what's going on
with my cancer, the same way I've been telling you what's going on with
my gender. More of my focus might be on the binary of life-and-death.

I'm not giving up or giving in. I'm going to see to it to the best of
my ability that the cancer is gone. I'm going to do the best I can to
carry on with life. That said, I'm booking touring engagements for this
winter, spring, and summer. My landlord needs his rent, and I tend to
feel most alive when I'm engaged with scholars, activists, and artists.
So… please do book me if you can. Here's a copy of my new catalogue:
Download KB Tours 2013-14 I thought about using the tag line,
"Bring Kate to Your Campus Before She Dies,"
but I decided against it. Heh.
I CAN tell you that I'm seriously considering writing a mini-memoir
about this time of my life. I've already got the title: Be Careful What
You Wish For: confessions of a failed suicide. Great, huh? OK… that's
enough for now. I'll post more when I know more. Meantime, I've got a
FaceBook page! Come visit! And thanks so much for sticking with me. I'm
grateful for your company on this journey of mine. 

kiss kiss

Auntie Kate

Bad News and Wonderful News

Dear Readers and Friends, Family and Tribe,

I've got bad news and wonderful news.

The bad news is that I've been diagnosed with lung cancer.

The wonderful news is that the docs found it by accident, and the tumor (singular) is very very early in it's development. The cancer is deeply embedded in the upper lobe of my right lung. That means that all the doctors have to do is take out the upper lobe of my right lung (Your left lung has two lobes, your right lung has three. Did you know that? I didn't, not before this.) Assuming they're right, I won't be needing any chemo or radiation. They'll just take out the chunk of lung that has the tumor, along with the lymph nodes that are hooked up to my right lung, et voila! Healthy Auntie. And the funnest part of this news? The surgeon is gonna use ROBOTS to do the surgery!! How cool is that?

I've been through batteries of tests over the last couple of weeks. They show that my lungs are super strong, and my heart's in great shape. So, I've got a green light for surgery. The date is set for October 25th—with 3 to 5 days recovery in the hospital afterwards. Given that my immune system is already compromised by my CLL (chronic lymphatic leukemia), it'll most likely be the full five days, and I'll be out in time for Halloween! Then, it'll be another couple of weeks recovering at home, and I'll be up and around and back to pro wrestling. I've always wanted to give pro wrestling a try.

But wait, there's more good news! My girlfriend, Barbara Carrellas, has got me on an anti-cancer diet. I've cut out all meat, dairy, gluten, and sugar. Cancer LOVES sugar, and grows really fast on it. Did you know that? I didn't. But I'm eating good food now.

I still have other health issues going on—the stuff that the docs were trying to find out when they accidentally found my lung cancer. So this month is a great big see-the-doctors month for me. That's why I've had to cancel a couple of my speaking and performance gigs. Hopefully, I won't have to cancel any more.

I'm telling you all this because I've told you everything else about my life, and despite that, you've chosen to keep me company on this life path of mine. I'm so grateful for your company. I welcome your good wishes, prayers, candles, and any other good ju-ju you'd like to send. That'd be perfectly lovely, thank you. I'm sure I won't be able to answer everyone's tweets or comments, but know that I'll hold your wishes deep in my strong, healthy heart.

See you on the other side of this.

kiss kiss (don't worry — it's not catching)

Auntie Kate

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!

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?






















* 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


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 

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!


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