Kate Bornstein

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Kate Bornstein
Kate Bornstein2010.jpg
Bornstein in 2010
Born (1948-03-15) March 15, 1948 (age 74)
EducationBrown University (BA)
OccupationPerformance artist, author
WebsiteOfficial website

Katherine Vandam Bornstein[1] (born March 15, 1948[2]) is an American author, playwright, performance artist, actor, and gender theorist. In 1986, Bornstein started identifiying as gender non-conforming and has stated "I don't call myself a woman, and I know I'm not a man" after having been assigned male at birth and receiving sex reassignment surgery.[3] Bornstein now identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them and she/her.[4] Bornstein has also written about having anorexia, being a survivor of PTSD and being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.[5]

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Bornstein was born in Asbury Park, New Jersey, into an upper middle-class Conservative Jewish family of Russian and Dutch descent.[6] Bornstein studied Theater Arts with John Emigh and Jim Barnhill at Brown University (Class of '69). Bornstein joined the Church of Scientology, becoming a high-ranking lieutenant in the Sea Org,[7][8][9] but later became disillusioned and formally left the movement in 1981. Bornstein's antagonism toward Scientology and public split from the church have had personal consequences; Bornstein's daughter, herself a Scientologist, no longer has any contact per Scientology's policy of disconnection.[10]

Transition and post-op[edit]

Bornstein never felt comfortable with the belief of the day that all trans women are "women trapped in men's bodies."[11] They did not identify as a man, but the only other option was to be a woman, a reflection of the gender binary, which required people to identify according to only two available genders. Another obstacle was the fact that Bornstein was attracted to women. She had sex reassignment surgery in 1986.

Bornstein settled into the lesbian community in San Francisco, and wrote art reviews for the gay and lesbian paper The Bay Area Reporter.[12] Over the next few years, they began to identify as neither a man nor a woman.[13] This catapulted Bornstein back to performing, creating several performance pieces, some of them one-person shows. It was the only way that she knew how to communicate life's paradoxes.

Bornstein also teaches workshops and has published several gender theory books and a novel. Hello Cruel World was written to keep "teens, freaks, and other outlaws" from dying by suicide. "Do whatever it takes to make your life more worth living," Bornstein writes, "just don't be mean."[14] In a May 2018 interview with the LGBTQ&A podcast, they said that they no longer have thoughts of suicide since writing the book.[15]

Kate Bornstein at SUNY New Paltz in October, 2018. Photo by Morgan Gwenwald.

Bornstein's partner is Barbara Carrellas. They live in New York City with three cats, two dogs, and a turtle.[16]

Cancer diagnosis[edit]

In August 2012, Bornstein was diagnosed with lung cancer. Doctors thought that they were cancer-free after surgery, but it emerged in February 2013 that the disease had returned. Laura Vogel, a friend of theirs, launched a GoFundMe campaign on March 20 to help fund the cancer treatment.[17] In December 2015, Bornstein announced that they had been cancer-free for two years.[18]

Later years[edit]

Bornstein made their Broadway debut in July 2018 in the play Straight White Men.[19]

Speaking to the LGBTQ&A podcast in July 2021, Bornstein talked about how her view of gender evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic, "Gender became inconsequential to me while I was in quarantine and grappling with old age...This is where you really need to be letting go of shit. I'm letting go of the ability to be cute, in certain ways. I'm too old for that. My face is sagging, my boobs are sagging. Boy, oh boy. They're down to my waist and you let go of that as being necessary to your gender."[20]

Works[edit]

In 1989, Bornstein created a theatre production in collaboration with Noreen Barnes, Hidden: A Gender, based on parallels between their own life and that of the intersex person Herculine Barbin,[21] starring Bornstein and Justin Vivian Bond. In 2009, Bornstein's Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws was a Lambda Literary Award Finalist for LGBT Nonfiction and Honorbook for the Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature.[22] Bornstein edited Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation in collaboration with S. Bear Bergman.[23] The anthology won Lambda Literary and Publishing Triangle Awards in 2011.[24][25] Bornstein's autobiography, titled A Queer and Pleasant Danger: A Memoir, was released May 2012, and in April 2013, they released My New Gender Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving World Peace Through Gender Anarchy and Sex Positivity. Recently, Bornstein has taken part in a theatrical tour in England. She also took part in being a cast member in the reality TV show of I Am Cait.[26]

Books[edit]

  • Bornstein, Kate (1995). Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us. New York City: Routledge. ISBN 978-0679757016.
  • Sullivan, Caitlin; Bornstein, Kate (1996). Nearly Roadkill: An Infobahn Erotic Adventure. New York City: High Risk Books. ISBN 978-1852424183.
  • Bornstein, Kate (1998). My Gender Workbook: How to Become a Real Man, a Real Woman, the Real You, or Something Else Entirely. Illustrations by Diane DiMassa. New York City: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415916721.
  • Bornstein, Kate (2006). Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws. New York: Seven Stories Press. ISBN 9781583227206.
  • Bornstein, Kate; Bergman, S. Bear, eds. (2010). Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation. Berkeley, California: Seal Press. ISBN 9781580053082.
  • Bornstein, Kate (2012). A Queer and Pleasant Danger: A Memoir. Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 9780807001653. A documentary Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger, directed by Sam Feder, was released in 2014[needs update]
  • Bornstein, Kate (2013). My New Gender Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving World Peace Through Gender Anarchy and Sex Positivity. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415538657.
  • Bornstein, Kate (2016). Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us (Revised and Updated). New York: Vintage Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. ISBN 978-1-101-97461-2.

Performance pieces[edit]

  • Kate Bornstein Is a Queer and Pleasant Danger
  • The Opposite Sex Is Neither
  • Virtually Yours
  • Hidden: A Gender
  • Strangers in Paradox
  • y2kate: gender virus 2000
  • Hard Candy

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bornstein, Kate (5 May 2012). "My Scientology excommunication". Salon. Archived from the original on 2013-04-16. Retrieved 2012-05-06.
  2. ^ "LC Linked Data Service: Authorities and Vocabularies". Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 2019-04-14. Retrieved 2018-03-05.
  3. ^ Bornstein, Kate (2012). A Queer and Pleasant Danger: A Memoir. Beacon Press. pp. II. ISBN 9780807001660. Archived from the original on 2022-05-07. Retrieved 2015-07-02.
  4. ^ Czyzselska, Jane (February 2016). "CALL ME Kate". Diva: 54.
  5. ^ Bornstein, Kate (2012). A Queer and Pleasant Danger: A Memoir. Beacon Press. pp. II. ISBN 9780807001660. Archived from the original on 2022-05-07. Retrieved 2015-07-02.
  6. ^ "Kate Bornstein's Gender and Genre Bending" (PDF). LGBT Jewish Heroes. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-12. Retrieved 2012-11-04.
  7. ^ ""A Queer and Pleasant Danger": Kate Bornstein, Trans Scientology Survivor". Mother Jones. Archived from the original on August 18, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
  8. ^ "No Longer At Sea: Kate Bornstein Talks Scientology". Religion Dispatches. 2012-06-27. Archived from the original on 2013-04-15. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
  9. ^ "A Queer and Pleasant Danger by Kate Bornstein – Powell's Books". Archived from the original on August 10, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
  10. ^ Moore, David. "Kate Bornstein to perform at UNC-Charlotte". Archived from the original on 24 October 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-12.
  11. ^ Bornstein, Kate (1994). Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us. Routledge. p. 66. ISBN 978-0415908979. Archived from the original on 2022-05-07. Retrieved 2021-04-27.
  12. ^ Piechota, Jim (2012-08-09). "Surviving Scientology". Bay Area Reporter. Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved Feb 13, 2013.
  13. ^ Lavelle, Ciara (September 2, 2016). "Eileen Myles, the Property Brothers, and Others Coming to Miami Book Fair 2016". Miami New Times. Archived from the original on 14 March 2018. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  14. ^ Kate Bornstein (2010-10-06). "Don't Be Mean? Really?". Kate Bornstein Is A Queer and Pleasant Danger—this is her blog. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2015-09-13.
  15. ^ "LGBTQ&A: Kate Bornstein: Gender Is A Playground (5/2/18) on Apple Podcasts". Apple Podcasts. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22. Retrieved 2021-12-22.
  16. ^ Piechota, Jim (2012-08-09). "Surviving Scientology". Bay Area Reporter. Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved Feb 13, 2013.
  17. ^ Morgan, Glennisha (2013-03-22). "Kate Bornstein, Transgender Activist And Theorist, Receives Support For Cancer Fundraiser". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2020-02-21.
  18. ^ "Blame it all on this guy: new scan says I'm cancer-free—that makes it 2 years, no cancer". Twitter. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22. Retrieved 2021-12-22.
  19. ^ "Trans performer Kate Bornstein has shut down a Broadway heckler in a moving Facebook post". PinkNews | Latest lesbian, gay, bi and trans news | LGBT+ news. 2018-08-10. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22. Retrieved 2021-12-22.
  20. ^ "Still A Gender Outlaw: Catching Up With Trans Elder Kate Bornstein". www.advocate.com. 2021-07-27. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22. Retrieved 2021-12-22.
  21. ^ "Kate Bornstein's Gender and Genre Bending" (PDF). LGBT Jewish Heroes. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-12. Retrieved 2012-11-04.
  22. ^ "Kate Bornstein". Seven Stories Press. Archived from the original on 2018-04-18. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  23. ^ "Interview with S. Bear Bergman". Genderfork. 2009-10-29. Archived from the original on 2022-05-07. Retrieved 2009-11-13.
  24. ^ "Triangle Awards: Kate Bornstein". Out FM. 2011-05-06. Archived from the original on 2015-02-22. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
  25. ^ "Glam Meets Identity Politics at Lammys: Literary awards fête Edward Albee, Val McDermid; feature Stefanie Powers". Gay City News. June 10, 2011. Retrieved 2012-02-23.[permanent dead link]
  26. ^ M. B. (October 2016). "Kate Bornstein". Out. 25: 57. Archived from the original on 2022-05-07. Retrieved 2022-05-07 – via LGBT Life with Full Text.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]