Patrick Califia

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Patrick Califia (born 1954, also 'Califia-Rice', formerly known as Pat Califia) is an American writer of non-fiction essays about sexuality and of erotic fiction and poetry.[1] Califia is a bisexual trans man.[2] Prior to transitioning, he was a lesbian and as such, wrote for many years a sex advice column for the gay men's leather magazine Drummer. His writings explore sexuality and gender identity, and have included lesbian erotica and works about BDSM subculture.[3] Califia is a member of the feminist movement. Califia also has a son whom he had with his ex-partner who is now also a trans man.[4]

Early life[edit]

Califia was born in Corpus Christi, Texas where he was raised by Mormon parents.[5] 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.[6] Califia was assigned female at birth.[7]

Califia did not have a good childhood. His father was an angry and violent man and his mother a pious women who was more focused on religion than anything else present in her life.[8] Califia did believe in the Mormon religion and there were elements of Mormon in his approach to life.[8] One primary tenet of Mormon belief that Califia tended to follow was "if the truth has been revealed to you and you don't speak out, you are culpable for any wrongs that are committed in those realms of life",[8] which Califia has followed by never keeping silent about his true desires and feelings. Califia's sense of difference began when he was a child. He had dreams of becoming a train engineer which his parents shot down because of his gender (he was female at the time).[8] At university is when Califia began to discover and recognize his sexual orientation as a lesbian.

Califia came out as lesbian in 1971 in Salt Lake City, Utah while attending the University of Utah.[5] He began using the last name Califia, after the mythical female warrior Amazon.[9][citation needed]. When he came out as lesbian to his parents they placed him in a mental institution.[5] The stress of the situation drove Califia into a mental breakdown which caused him to drop out of university at the time.[8] Califia began to evade his parents and this is when he started becoming involved in the women's liberation and anti- war movements.[8] After getting involved in consciousness raising in the area, he moved to San Francisco in 1973, bringing an interest in sex education to work on the San Francisco Sex Information switchboard.[10] After moving to San Francisco he began writing for a magazine and joined a lesbian separatist movement. In 1975 he spoke in favor of sadomasochism and found himself excluded from the lesbian feminist community.[8] He was not only excluded from his nuclear family by coming out as a lesbian but also lost his gay family when speaking his opinions.[8] Califia became increasingly involved in S/M activities not only with lesbians but also with gay men. He cofounded a lesbian S/M group called Samois in 1978.[8]


In 1999 Califia decided to start the process of having testosterone injections.[8] Califia had considered gender reassignment in his twenties but had been hesitant because of the surgery was not as popular at the time and there were many dangers to receiving this surgery.[8] He also doubted gender reassignment because his career had been built around his reputation as a lesbian writer and activist. Due to the fact that Califia was at an older age when he decided to start the process of gender reassignment he was already beginning menopause.[8] His doctor suggested hormone replacement because the testosterone injections may not be as effective but Califia highly refused to purposely put estrogen into his body.[8] Califia stated that being a man or a woman was never a good fit for him but gender reassignment seemed to be the most reasonable option.[8] He changed his name from Pat to Patrick and assumed his new life as a male. Califia's partner at the time was also in the process of transitioning. This was the ex-partner that Califia then had his child with. His partner suspended testosterone because of side-effects but also because he wished to become pregnant.[8] They successfully conceived their child, Blake, through artificial insemination (vid., using donated sperm and an egg from Califia's partner).


Califia began attending the University of Utah in Salt Lake City in 1971.[6] Califia has a Bachelor's degree in psychology from San Francisco State University[when?][11] and a master's degree in counselling from the University of San Francisco.[12]


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.[13]

Califia is "one of earliest champions of lesbian sadomasochistic sex" whose "work has been taught on college campuses across the country and abroad."[14] 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."[14] He played what some observers termed a "notable role" in the Feminist Sex Wars of the 1970s/1980s.[14] 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."[14] 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."[14]

In 1979, as a student in psychology at San Francisco State University, his research was published in the Journal of Homosexuality.[15]

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.[16][17] The Samois Collective produced, with Califia's contributions, the book Coming to Power published by Alyson Publications.[14][18] 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."[14] Another book, the Lesbian S/M Safety Manual won the 1990 Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year.[19]

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.[18] 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.[20]

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.[14] Califia said, "It's about me trying to put a human face on that and understand that from the inside out."[14] He also likes to be thought-provoking, and challenging his readers on subjects with which they are less familiar.[14] 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."[14] 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."[14]

Califia was nominated for the Lambda Literary Awards for his short-story collection Macho Sluts (1988), his novel Doc and Fluff: The Dystopian Tale of a Girl and Her Biker (1990), and a compilation of his columns, The Advocate Adviser (1991).[21]


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 is working on a book that discusses the topic of FTM sexuality.[22] In an interview he stated the difficulty of writing such a book because there are so many different FTM bodies and there are many different paths to transition that people take. What Califia wants people to understand is that the book is not meant to be one of controversy, it is meant to be one stemming from experiences. Califia wrote a paper for the American Academy of Religion.[22] It was written on the gay marriage debate, and how arguments about monogamy and S/M have been used to try and control the whole argument.[22] He has also written vampire books, and is also working on a new set of essays surrounding the topic of BDSM.[22]


Califia has said that since the 1990s, he has had fibromyalgia,[23] 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.[24] 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.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Marech, Rona (October 27, 2000). "Radical Transformation". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 14, 2009. 
  2. ^ Alvear, Michael (February 19, 2003). "Gender-bending". Salon. Retrieved May 10, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Patrick Califia". LGBT History Month. Retrieved November 14, 2014. 
  4. ^ Michael, Alvear. "Gender-bending". Salon. Retrieved November 14, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c "Patrick Califia". LGBT History Month. Retrieved 2014-11-14. 
  6. ^ a b Prono, Luca (2008). Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Popular Culture. ISBN 9780313335990. 
  7. ^ "Click: Becoming Feminist". Herizons. July 1, 1998. Retrieved May 10, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Patrick Califia". Encyclopedia of GLBTQ Culture. Retrieved 2014-11-14. 
  9. ^ name="Califia2010">Califia, Patrick (August 4, 2010). Macho Sluts. p. 35. ISBN 978-1-4587-8044-7. Retrieved May 10, 2012. 
  10. ^ Sides, Josh (October 19, 2009). Erotic City: Sexual Revolutions and the Making of Modern San Francisco. Oxford University Press. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-19-988854-2. Retrieved May 10, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Patrick Califia". Facebook. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  12. ^ Pat Califia (July 1997). Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism. Cleis Pr. ISBN 9781573440721. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  13. ^ Fitting, Peter (2000). "Violence and Utopia: John Norman and Pat Califia". Utopian Studies (Penn State University Press) 11 (1): 91–108. JSTOR 25702459. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Marech, Rona (October 27, 2000). "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. 
  15. ^ Califia, Pat (April 3, 1979). "Lesbian Sexuality". Journal of Homosexuality 4 (3): 255–266. doi:10.1300/J082v04n03_04. ISSN 0091-8369. PMID 264129. 
  16. ^ Bronstein, Carolyn (June 30, 2011). Battling Pornography: The American Feminist Anti-Pornography Movement, 1976–1986. p. 288. ISBN 9781139498715. 
  17. ^ Bronstein, Carolyn (June 27, 2011). Battling Pornography: The American Feminist Anti-Pornography Movement, 1976–1986. Cambridge University Press. p. 288. ISBN 978-1-107-40039-9. Retrieved May 10, 2012. 
  18. ^ a b Hart, Lynda (January 1, 1998). Between the Body and the Flesh: Performing Sadomasochism. Columbia University Press. pp. 237–. ISBN 978-0-231-08403-1. Retrieved May 10, 2012. 
  19. ^ Burkardt, John (June 1, 2007). "The Oddest Book Titles". John Burkardt. Retrieved 2008-02-24. 
  20. ^ Stryker, Susan; Whittle, Stephen (2006). The Transgender Studies Reader. p. 434. ISBN 9780415947091. 
  21. ^ "Patrick Califia". An encyclopedia of GLBTG culture. Retrieved 2014-11-14. 
  22. ^ a b c d "An exclusive interview with Patrick Califia". Daily Xtra. 
  23. ^ Sadie, Sensuous (April 1, 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 May 10, 2012. 
  24. ^ Cusac, Anne-Marie (October 1, 1996). "Profile of a sex radical. (lesbian, sadomasochist author Pat Califia)". The Progressive. Retrieved May 10, 2012. 
  25. ^ LGBT History Month 2013 Icons Announced | Equality Forum

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