Patrick Califia

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Patrick Califia (born 1954, also 'Califia-Rice', formerly known as Pat Califia) is an American writer of nonfiction essays about sexuality and of erotic fiction and poetry.[1] Califia is a bisexual trans man.[2]

Early life[edit]

Califia was born in Corpus Christi, Texas on March 8, 1954. His father was an itinerant road-construction worker and he moved his family from job to job. His mother was a housewife. Califia was the oldest of six children.[3] Califia was assigned female at birth and grew up in a Mormon family.[4]

Califia came out as lesbian in 1971 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and began using the last name Califia, after the mythical female warrior Amazon.[5][citation needed] After getting involved in consciousness raising in the area, he moved to San Francisco, California in 1973, bringing an interest in sex education to work on the San Francisco Sex Information switchboard.[6]


Califia began attending the University of Utah in Salt Lake City in 1971.[3] Califia has a Bachelor's degree from San Francisco State University[when?][7] and a Master's Degree from the University of San Francisco.[8]


His first book was Sapphistry, a non-fiction work for lesbians which described butch-femme sexuality and BDSM safety and practice in a non-judgmental tone. Subsequently, he published work in lesbian, gay and feminist magazines, including a long-running sex advice column in The Advocate.[9]

Califia is "one of earliest champions of lesbian sadomasochistic sex" whose "work has been taught on college campuses across the country and abroad."[10] He has a long history of transgression identifying as a feminist, lesbian, and transgender while also at times finding rejection from those communities "for various infractions."[10] He played what some observers termed a "notable role" in the Feminist Sex Wars of the 1970s/1980s.[10] The sides were characterized by anti-porn feminist and sex-positive feminist groups with disagreements regarding sexuality, pornography and other forms of sexual representation, prostitution, the role of trans women in the lesbian community, lesbian sexual practices, sadomasochism and other sexual issues. Califia rejected the "essentialist, feminist ideology -- that women are better, more nurturing, more peaceful, more loving, more relationship-oriented and less raunchy in bed", instead advocating for BDSM, "the consensual integration of power, pain, domination and submission into sex."[10] According to the San Francisco Chronicle, many feminists were won over to Califia's views on S/M not from his arguments, but from his erotic fiction: "they read Califia-Rice's S/M fantasies, got turned on and got over it."[10]

In 1979, as a student in psychology at San Francisco State University, his research was published in the Journal of Homosexuality.[11]

Califia co-founded Samois, a lesbian-feminist BDSM organization based in San Francisco that existed from 1978 to 1983, and shifted his focus to the lesbian experience of BDSM.[12][13] The Samois Collective produced, with Califia's contributions, the book Coming to Power published by Alyson Publications.[10][14] Coming To Power, according to editor in chief Heather Findlay of lesbian magazine Girlfriends, was "one of the most transformative lesbian books, [foretelling] "the end of a certain puritanism that had dominated the community. It was the first articulate defense of lesbian S/M, and that was the end of it."[10] Another book, the Lesbian S/M Safety Manual won the 1990 Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year.[15]

Califia founded the leatherwomen's quarterly Venus Infers in 1992, and in 1996 was co-editor (with Robin Sweeney) of The Second Coming: A Leatherdyke Reader, a sequel to Coming to Power.[14] Califia was writing about queer studies and gender identity and coming to terms with these issues on a personal level. At age 45, Califia transitioned, taking the name Patrick.[16]

In a 2000 interview, Califia explained that the inspiration for his erotic writings varies; sometimes it is just about having fun, or it can be satire, or exploring a sexuality issue like HIV-positive people barebacking with the intent to transmit the virus.[10] Califia said, "It's about me trying to put a human face on that and understand that from the inside out."[10] He also likes to be thought-provoking, and challenging his readers on subjects they are less familiar.[10] He stated, "It's also a way to top a lot of people. In some ways, I get to do a scene with everyone who reads one my books."[10] Janet Hardy of Greenery Press, admires Califia's tenacity stating "He's got a phenomenal mind, … willing to get a hold of a thought and follow it through to the end, even if it doesn't feel comfortable."[10]

He was for a time in private practice as a therapist, licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) in the state of California.

Califia released a book in 2005, Boy in the Middle, a collection of erotic stories.


Califia has said that since the 1990s, he has had fibromyalgia,[17] which has reduced his ability to type or write.

When Califia would travel to Canada, his pornographic works were often seized by Canadian customs until he fought a court case to allow them to be accepted.[18] Afterwards he wrote of his amusement at finding that anti-porn feminist Catherine Itzin's book Pornography: Women, Violence and Civil Liberties was seized under the very law she had helped to establish, while Califia's books were recognized as acceptable by that law. Califia fought against anti-pornography legislation co-authored by Catharine MacKinnon.[1] In 2013, Patrick Califia was named with online resources as an LGBT History Month Icon.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Marech, Rona (27 October 2000). "Radical Transformation". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 14 May 2009. 
  2. ^ Alvear, Michael (19 February 2003). "Gender-bending". Salon. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Prono, Luca (2008). Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Popular Culture. ISBN 9780313335990. 
  4. ^ "Click: Becoming Feminist". Herizons Magazine. 1 July 1998. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  5. ^ Califia, Patrick (4 August 2010). Macho Sluts. p. 35. ISBN 978-1-4587-8044-7. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  6. ^ Sides, Josh (19 October 2009). Erotic City: Sexual Revolutions and the Making of Modern San Francisco. Oxford University Press. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-19-988854-2. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  7. ^ "Patrick Califia". Facebook. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  8. ^ Pat Califia (July 1997). Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism. Cleis Pr. ISBN 9781573440721. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  9. ^ Fitting, Peter (2000). "Violence and Utopia: John Norman and Pat Califia". Utopian Studies (Penn State University Press) 11 (1): 91–108. JSTOR 25702459. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Marech, Rona (2000-10-27). "Radical Transformation / Writer Patrick Califia-Rice has long explored the fringes. Now the former lesbian S/M activist is exploring life as a man.". San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco: Hearst). ISSN 1932-8672. Retrieved November 26, 2013. 
  11. ^ Califia, Pat (3 April 1979). "Lesbian Sexuality". Journal of Homosexuality 4 (3): 255–266. doi:10.1300/J082v04n03_04. ISSN 0091-8369. PMID 264129. 
  12. ^ Bronstein, Carolyn (2011-06-30). Battling Pornography: The American Feminist Anti-Pornography Movement, 1976-1986. p. 288. ISBN 9781139498715. 
  13. ^ Bronstein, Carolyn (27 June 2011). Battling Pornography: The American Feminist Anti-Pornography Movement, 1976-1986. Cambridge University Press. p. 288. ISBN 978-1-107-40039-9. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  14. ^ a b Hart, Lynda (1 January 1998). Between the Body and the Flesh: Performing Sadomasochism. Columbia University Press. pp. 237–. ISBN 978-0-231-08403-1. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  15. ^ Burkardt, John (1 June 2007). "The Oddest Book Titles". John Burkardt. Retrieved 2008-02-24. 
  16. ^ Stryker, Susan; Whittle, Stephen (2006). The Transgender Studies Reader. p. 434. ISBN 9780415947091. 
  17. ^ Sadie, Sensuous (1 April 2003). It's Not about the Whip: Love, Sex, and Spirituality in the Bdsm Scene. Trafford Publishing. p. 157. ISBN 978-1-4120-0183-0. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  18. ^ Cusac, Anne-Marie (1 October 1996). "Profile of a sex radical. (lesbian, sadomasochist author Pat Califia)". The Progressive. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  19. ^ LGBT History Month 2013 Icons Announced | Equality Forum

External links[edit]