Where’s Kate in January-February?

I'm so glad to be out on the road again with some old favorite performances and workshops, as well as some brand new material. I'll be blogging soon about what exactly I'm up to—but here are some dates for now. I hope I get to see you at one of these gigs—if so, please do say hello! xoxo Auntie Kate
 
JANUARY APPEARANCES: 
 
January 10 Sunday matinee New York City: MDLSX, By Motus, Performed by Silvia Calderoni. I’m speaking on a talkback panel after the performance http://lamama.org/mdlsx/
 
January 15 Friday evening, New York City: SQUIRTS at La MaMa. I’m onstage with Miz June and PWR BTTM, one time only! http://lamama.org/squirts-2016/
 
January 30, Saturday evening, Hartford, CT: "TRANS, Beyond the Tipping Point" at Real Art Ways, co-presented with Mark Twain House. http://www.realartways.org/event/trans-beyond-the-tipping-point-an-evening-with-kate-bornstein/2016-01-30/
 
FEBRUARY ENGLAND TOUR:
 
February 5, Friday evening, Manchester, Queer Contact Festival at Contact Theater. Performance: “On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us.” http://contactmcr.com/whats-on/46295-qc16-kate-bornstein-on-men-women-and-the-rest-of-us/
 
February 6, Saturday all day workshop, Manchester, Queer Contact Festival at LGBT Foundation. MY GENDER WORKSHOP, http://contactmcr.com/whats-on/48492-qc16-kate-bornstein-my-gender-workshop/
 
February 9, Tuesday evening, London, The British Library. Kate Bornstein In Conversation With Paris Lees. http://www.bl.uk/events/kate-bornstein-in-conversation
 
February 13, Saturday all day workshop, London, MY GENDER WORKSHOP. https://www.facebook.com/events/1493628694277011/. For more info and booking, email zed at queerhearted dot com.
 
February 18, Thursday evening, Brighton, at Dome Studio Theatre, Performance: “On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us.” http://brightondome.org/event/8775/on_men_women_and_the_rest_of_us/
 
February 19, Friday afternoon workshop, Brighton, location tba. “Hello Cruel World: Survival Tips for Trans & GNC Youth"
 
February 20, Saturday night, London, at Duckie! In cabaret with Sooze Frumin and Dame Poppycock. http://www.duckie.co.uk/saturdays/page/2
 
February 21, Sunday evening, London: Benefit screening of Sam Feder’s documentary film, “Kate Bornstein Is A Queer and Pleasant Danger,” — details TBA
 
February 23-24 Tuesday-Wednesday evenings, London, at SoHo Theatre: Performance: “On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us.” http://sohotheatre.com/whats-on/kate-bornstein-on-men-women-and-the-rest-of-us/
 
February 26 Friday evening, London, Wheatsheaf Hall, a LoveSpirit event with Barbara Carrellas and me: "Our Journeys in Sex, Gender and Spirit.” Tickets and details: click here.
 
————————–
 
MARCH, APRIL, MAY and JUNE BOOKINGS ARE IN THE WORKS
 
Please contact Jean at SpeakOutNow to bring me to a campus, town, or theater near you!

Lambda Literary Pioneer Award Talks, 2014

First, here's a video (shot by audience member, Jim Fouratt) of Barbara Carrellas presenting & Kate Bornstein accepting the 2014 Lambda Literary Award. The text of both their remarks follows.

 

Barbara Carrellas Remarks,
Presenting Lambda Literary Pioneer Award to Kate Bornstein

Imagine with me, please. Imagine a place that is not here and a time that is before now. Imagine a gathering of ancient bodiless souls, all drinking tea and deciding the social priorities for the 20th Century. One gay soul suddenly turns serious. “I am calling for us as a soul group to congregate in the United States in the mid-20th century. Our time on earth will be short. Almost all of us will have died of a plague they will call AIDS before the millennium. Our task? To love and care and fight for each other so fiercely, to become so strong and so visible, that gay men and lesbians in a large portion of the world will have equal rights shortly after our deaths.

     There are gasps of awe and enthusiastic shouts of agreement. “Count me in! Me, too! Me, three!” When the cacophony dies down, one lone, lovely creature speaks “That is wonderful but, it’s not enough. What about everyone who doesn’t fit into the binary of gay or lesbian? Or man or woman? What about every sexual outlaw and freak of gender? Who’s gonna fight for their rights?”

     The thoughtful soul who had proposed AIDS to the group, says, “You’re right. But I don’t see how we can do it all in one go.” “Ah, but I do,” says the lovely one. “I’ll go down with you, but I’ll take another path while you take on AIDS. By the time you’ve finished, I’ll be ready. I need the time, anyway. I have research to do. I’ve been thinking that most of earth’s problems are caused by gender. Gender on earth operates like a evil cult. I need time to explore the nature of cults. I heard yesterday that someone is creating a new cult. I think they are calling it Scientology. I think I’ll check it out.”

     The lovely loner was not alone for long. Many in the AIDS soul group were so taken with the Gender Project that they volunteered to jump back into new bodies right after their AIDS lifetimes. “Wait for us! We’ll be back to join you. You’ll recognize us. We’ll be the cute ones with great haircuts, unrecognizable gender presentations, and creative pronouns. But we’ll need to be caught up to speed quickly. Write us some books we can read while we’re growing up. Books that will help us keep ourselves safe and prepare us to fight for the new gender revolution.”

     And thus it was decided. 

     Albert Bornstein was born in 1948. He joined the Church of Scientology in 1970, and learned cults from the inside for 12 years. In 1986, Kate Bornstein was born.

     If you ask the question, as I recently did on Facebook and Twitter, “What does Kate Bornstein mean to you?” the overwhelmingly most popular answer is, “Kate Bornstein saved my life.” 

     As writers, we have all collectively and individually inspired lots of people. We’ve changed more than a few lives with the power of our words. But how many of us can say that our writing has saved thousands of lives? 

     It is my fiercest pleasure to present the Lambda Literary Foundation’s Pioneer Award to my beloved partner in life, love and art, Kate Bornstein.

*****

Kate Bornstein Pioneer Award Remarks, Lambda Literary 2014

Thank you Lambda Literary, for this wonderful moment of recognition. You are perfect dears to be doing this for me. 

OK—thank you to so many of you in this room. Last year—and again just over a month ago—over 3,000 people around the world joined together to raise more than $120,000 to help me get through cancer therapy, when I was too sick with side effects or recovering from surgeries, to go out on tour and earn my daily bread. What’s more—something I never thought would happen, but your gifts and well wishes completely crushed, once and for all, my low sense of self-esteem. You saved my life. You made me wanna stay alive. Bless your hearts.

Alright now-pioneering. Only a very few people do that solo. I sure didn’t. In the areas of gender identity and expression, I have many colleagues to thank—as well as writers I’ve followed, imitated, and stolen from. Their names will appear on my blog, but I do need to speak some names here, tonight. 

My path as a writer of books has been guided by remarkable publishing houses and editors: 

  • Serpent Tail Press, Amy Scholder & Ira Sliverberg —  
  • Routledge Press, Bill Germano — 
  • Seven Stories Press, Crystal Yackaki & Amy Scholder — 
  • T Cooper for Akashic Books, — 
  • Tristan Taormino for Cleis Press,— 
  • Seal Press, Brooke Warner — 
  • Beacon Press, Gayatri Patnaik— 
  • and Routledge Press again, Erica Wetter. 
  • Love and thanks Caitlin Sullivan, co-author of Nearly Roadkill. 
  • Love and thanks to S. Bear Bergman, outstanding co-editor of Lammy award winning Gender Outlaws the Next Generation. 
  • Thanks to my tour agent, Jean Caiani at SpeakOut. 
  • Thank you Gail Leondar-Wright, for the publicity that first ever got Gender Outlaw out into the world. 
  • I’m forever grateful to my literary agent—I love you, Malaga Baldi. 
  • My friend and mentor for over 40 years is John Emigh—he’s always pushed me into writing what’s most scary to write about.

Finally, the editor who has been looking at all my words for 17 years now is my bubu, my muse, and my dear imzadi, Barbara Carrellas. When we were both souls outside of time and space, and we were deciding our rebirths: what could we do to ease the suffering of queer people? Well, it was Barbara who decided to make it her life’s mission to pioneer ecstatic sex that wouldn’t spread the plague. Thank you, bubu. You’ve brought ecstasy into my life and into the lives of all my kids—and you’ve always been there as an emergency power source all those times when I was nearly a goner. Love you, Miss Barbara.

*******

We live in interesting times. For the first time since anything trans has come to public awareness on this planet, the face of transgender belongs to a woman of color, Laverne Cox. The literary face of trans belongs to a woman of color, Janet Mock. And the pop culture face of trans belongs to a tranny of color, RuPaul.

Interesting times, indeed. For the first time ever, there are three generations of sex-and-gender theorists, artists, and activists, all alive at the same time—each generation has its unique point of view, each with unique experiences and timeline. 

I’m asking that we three generations of sex and gender artists, activists, theorists, and spiritual leaders come together in a pioneer coalition that deals with race and class within our community—for starters. I want we three generations of LGBTQetc to welcome family living beyond those letters, for we are legion.

Our legion of identities has the common denominators of sexuality, sex, gender identity, and gender expression. But because we live in a culture founded by Puritans, it’s shameful to talk about sex and gender. Nevertheless, all of us are here tonight because of terrific sex and/or fabulous gender. Now, Puritanical sex-negativity shames us into invisibilizing our terrific sex and our fabulous genders. And sadly, institutionalized sex-negativity extends into our own community. We shame each other. We’re being mean to each other. We have got to stop shaming, and distancing ourselves from sissies, sex workers, BDSMers, pornographers, sluts, burlesque artists, trannies and drag queens. These are the funnest people in our family—shaming these people and distancing ourselves from them is mean. It’s a Puritanically-generated mix of misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia. I’m asking you as your old Auntie: please stop doing that. Someone, pioneer a queer community that doesn't eat its own… please. 

In this spirit of inclusivity, Dear Lambda Literary people, may I be so bold as to tickle your own fabulous pioneering spirit? Please, Lambda Lit, create award categories for sex education, queer Young Adult fiction, queer spirituality, and one more category for books written by people with sex and gender identities not yet expressed by LGBT.

OK, I’m wrapping up now. Here’s the deal: I’ve got lung cancer and leukemia. I know, I know I might be around for another 15 or 20 years, but just in case I’m not, I wanna say this now: Please, my darlings, all of you, take care of each other. Watch each other’s back. Stand up for each other. Please.

Now, go sissy your walk, children. Please, stay alive. Have good sex, have fun with gender, and write great stuff about that.

Auntie loves you. 

Kiss Kiss

Tranny, Revisited by Auntie Kate

Background: There’s been a firestorm around the word “tranny,” which has been extended to “she-male,” and even to “gender outlaw.” I thought I’d covered all the bases on my stand on tranny five years ago, in this blog post:

http://katebornstein.typepad.com/kate_bornsteins_blog/2009/07/who-you-calling-a-tranny.html

But no, the controversy continues. I’ve been in treatment with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, both of which tend to dull the mind. By last night, I’d recovered enough of my mind to realize that there’s been no definition of tranny to fight over, so I thought I’d come up with one that I could fit into 140 characters. Here’s what I came up with and tweeted:

“How I define #tranny: ANYONE who messes around w gender w little or no care as to how tht might effect their standing in mainstream culture.”

To my way of thinking, a proper and productive response to a proffered definition is to agree with it, disagree and refine it, or disprove it. The majority of responses to my tweet were all about how the word tranny has effected people’s lives. One person, however, managed to refute my definition by saying:

“I fuck with gender. I am not a t*****.”

For this person, I’m clarifying my definition. What I didn’t spell out is that I understand “tranny” to be a radical, sex-positive gender identity. Tranny is to trans person as fag is to gay man and dyke is to lesbian. More to the point of agreeing or disagreeing with tranny as a gender identity for oneself: I’ve been saying since I wrote the book, Gender Outlaw 20 years ago, that the only person who can name our gender identities is ourselves. In my own life, I’ve rejected the gender identities of both man and woman—despite the fact that I managed to live up to many cultural definitions of both those identities. I pass as a woman, I’m called she by strangers. AND I reject the gender identity of woman. Accordingly, if someone fits my definition of tranny and rejects that identity, then I respect their rejection of the identity.

Now, since I’ve opened this wound, I’ve decided to address some of the main objections to the use of the word, tranny. In no particular order, these objections are:

    — Reclaiming a Hate Word Doesn't Work

Tranny is not a reclamation. Tranny has been our word for nearly half a century. Some trannies in Sydney, Australia came up with the term as an umbrella term to unite with love and as family the disparate communities transsexuals and drag queens. This makes it unlike words like nigger and slut. These, and other words invented by haters, have been reclaimed and are being reclaimed with great difficulty.

    — Using the Word Tranny Promotes Transphobic Violence

Policing words out of existence will not stop transphobic violence. At best, it might change the words used during that violence. 

    — When Kate Bornstein calls themself a tranny, 
        
it encourages and gives others the right to call all trans women trannies.

No, it doesn’t. Transphobes don’t look to me for permission or encouragement for anything. They may, and certainly have, used my words out of context to support their views. TO BE CLEAR: Nothing I've said here or anywhere else should be taken as permission to call another person tranny until you know that's a word they use for their own identity—some people find the word extremely hurtful. So, please err on the side of caution and compassion.

    — FTMs are not allowed to use the word for themselves.

FTMs are certainly included in my definition if they want to be. 

    — Tranny associates me with pornography & sex workers.

Association with sex and sex workers is often a means of denigrating people. Classist sex negativity is no reason for me to cease celebrating my sex positive identity.

    — Why all this fuss, just to protect an edgy word?

It’s more than an edgy word. Tranny is a valid, vibrant, and vital identity. Protecting that identity is what I’m making the fuss about.

In closing: that people are offended by what I call myself is simply not my problem. Transphobia is our communal problem, and I have stood and will stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone who’s fighting that hatred.

OK, done now. I’m going to get back to healing my body.

Auntie loves you. Have good sex and fun with gender. Kiss Kiss.

 

Thank you… who?


ThankyoucherubThe gender workbook update is written and laid out in a final draft—everything but the acknowledgements. Since this is a crowdsourced book, I've thanked YOU in the dedication—yep, it's dedicated to twibe. Now, I'm asking for your input one last time: who deserves thanks?

You helped teach me, so now I want to know who taught you, because I want to thank them properly too. Please leave a SHORT comment here, or better yet tweet me with names of people—they can be friends, professors, parents, siblings, novelists, pornographers, SciFi show, storytellers, mentors, alive, dead, or in some other state of existence we don't know about yet. Angels, saints, and demons count. So do friendly faeries, elves, hobbits and so on. Who helped you on your sex and gender journeys? 

Wow. It's all done except for this.

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

So, please: let me know who I should be thanking for the awesomeness that is YOUR fabulous sexuality and gender. Clock is ticking. Deadline for thank you's is noon (EDT) tomoro, Saturday, July 7. If you tweet your answer, please use the hashtag #MNGW (My New Gender Workbook).

kiss kiss

Auntie Kate

 

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.


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.

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

 

Wingnuts and Moonbats and Gender… Oh, My!

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.

Dear Gendered, Somewhat Gendered, and Non-Gendered Peeps,

The workbook update is moving along on schedule. Thank you for the terrific input so far. It sure looks like this version of the workbook will have more voices in it than the first.

Well, let me get right to it then—here's the next in the series of questions I'm posing for your consideration:

How does politics impact your gender?

Politics, like age, race, class, sexuality, etc, etc, is a space in which our identities, desires, and powers can be socially regulated. And, like gender and all those other spaces, the huge space that contains all the possible politics that could ever be, is masquerading as a binary. In the USA, binary politics plays out as left wing with extremist liberal moonbats, and right wing  with extremist conservative wingnuts. Each political point of view socially regulates gender by it's own take on what's a real man, what's a real woman; what's right behavior for boys and girls; and just how should we deal with the increasing number of people who claim they're both male and female and/or neither.

We are at the beginning of an election cycle here in the United States—and that means that the powers that be will ramp up every divisive binary they can think of. This country and by extension the world will be awash with us versus them, good guys and bad guys, moonbats and wingnuts, red states and blue states… every single one of them saying, my way or the highway. Divide-and-conquer has pretty much always been the modus operandi of choice by politics of power and identity politics. So, what does all that mean for your extremely personal gender identity and gender expression? Here are some questions for ya to chew on:

  • Have conseravtive or liberal social theories shaped your gender identity or expression in any way?
  • Have you been cut off from someone or some group or place that you love because your gender expression violates someone's politics?
  • Do politicians and elected officials stand up for you and people gendered like you?
  • Has your gender identity or its expression left you defenseless against the social domination of some extremist law?
  • Do you define as left wing or right wing politically? If so, how does that help or hinder you express yourself through your gender?
  • Are you more or less safe or at risk compared to others of your gender who have another political point of view?
  • Have you been empowed because of your political views, compared to people with genders other than yours?
  • Have you been disempowered by your political views, compared to people with genders other than yours?

Yes, yes—there's a lot more to politics than moonbats and wingnuts. But those are the folks who are currently vying for control of the so-called free world, so those are the politics I'm most interested in. OK then… politics, gender, and you. Ready? Set? Go!

kiss kiss

Kate

WAY FUN UPDATE!

@PinkBatPrincess asked if trans politics was included in the question. How cool! I hadn't thought of that. Yes, by all means you can speak to any gender politics, including but not limited to trans politics. And yes, please do write about issues around political correctness and gender policing within our own communities. Where possible, please tie these ideas into the larger binary of liberal/conservative politics. Thank you, @PinkBatPrincess. The pink background is for you!

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.