Five Questions With… Ariadne Kane

Posted by – May 24, 2006

Ariadne Kane has been doing transgender outreach longer than many of us have been walking – since 1972. She was on The Phil Donahue Show in 1980 and probably gave some of the people reading this a glimpse that they weren’t alone in being trans. Somewhere in there she came up with the idea of Fantasia Fair, as well.

ariadne kane < Ariadne Kane

1. Since you were the person who ‘invented’ Fantasia Fair, how did it come about? What did it take to put on the first couple of them? How has it changed in the ensuing years?

Fan/Fair (the abbreviated version) was conceived of in 1974. It struck me that we could create a dynamic program of activities that were educational, social and practical for all CDs & TSs who were willing to come out from the ‘closets’ of shame, guilt and shyness. I believed that, in a tolerant and open community, they could learn some things about being femme or masculine; get much needed help about comportment and presentation and, have truly educational experience out of the ‘closet’. It was with this guiding premise that Fan/Fair was created. It was with the help and financial backing of 3 members of the Boston Cherrystone ‘T’ Club and myself that Fan/Fair 1 became a reality in 1975.

Needless to say, we learned a lot about the needs and aspirations of the ‘T’ community, including what program elements worked in favor of our Goals for the program. Over the next 3 decades, the Fan/ Fair Steering Committee adopted a template for programming and administration, These included a balanced mix of educational, social and practical modules for the ‘T’ person who wanted to emerge from the ‘closet’ and learn the dynamics leading to personal growth and adaptability in either the feminine or the masculine gender role of choice. This template is still the guiding instrument in the design of every Fair, even today.

2. You identified as bisexual long before it was hip. How did you fit into the heterosexual CD model proposed by Virginia Prince and Jane Ellen Fairfax?

I did not identify as a bisexual until late in the 90’s. However, I did label myself as androgyne-bigender. I defined the terms operationally, i.e. living comfortably in either conventional gender role for most social situations and taking what I considered the most positive aspects from each. Sexual Orientation during the ‘coming out’ phase of my journey leaned more toward heterosexuality. But, in the late ‘more maturing’ decades of my life there has been a gradual shift towards a bisexual option. I have always associated the sexual act with my innate feelings of love for and with another person and not just their biology. While I respected the model proposed by Virginia P. and Jane Ellen F. , I did not feel that it should be imposed by others in the Trans-Community. Keep in mind that, during the period that we are speaking of, there was much internalized transgender phobia within the Community.

ariadne
< Ari Kane’s new book

3. I know you’ve got a new book coming out because I contributed an essay in it. What is it? What’s it all about? & When will it be on the bookshelves?

The book is titled Crossing Sexual Boundaries: Gender Journeys, Uncharted Paths is a collection of autobiographies of Trans-people, many of whom have made major impact on the growth and recognition of the Transgender Phenomenon as a positive, viable lifestyle during their lives. It is co-edited with Dr. Vern Bullough, a world renown sex researcher and Distinguished Professor of Sexology. We tried to involve contributors from all sectors of the gender spectrum, including androgynes, non operative and post-operative, individuals, spouses and close friends of ‘T’ people. Our goal is to attract many readers to understanding gender diversity, and to dispel some of the negative mythology about the TG Phenomenon. It is scheduled to be out in bookstores and libraries in late May 2006.

4. You’ve been a visible part of the trans-community for a while. Any advice for those of us who are just starting?

I’ve learned not to give advice about issues regarding transgender and gender diversity, except in professional settings. In my work as a consultant and counselor, I have dialoged with colleagues and clients. Two maxims that I adhere to for my life-style that might be useful to your readers are:

  • AN UNEXAMINED LIFE HAS LITTLE MEANING &
  • THOSE WHO DO NOT STUDY HISTORY ARE CONDEMNED TO REPEAT THE MISTAKES OF THE PAST.

5. What do you think are the 2 most important events vis a vis ‘Transgender’ History?

The two most important milestones in TG history are the seminal studies on CD/CG behaviors, done by M. Hirschfeld in the early part of the 20th Century (1920’s) and Fantasia Fair. The Hirschfeld Studies remained unknown to the professional communities until they were rediscovered and translated into English in 1990. The other milestone is Fantasia Fair because of its enormous educational value to both the ‘T’ Community and the health care professionals in Sociology, Psychology and Sexology. It allowed for dynamic interactions of these groups with the ‘T’ participants and broke down some negative myths about gender diversity. It also fostered a deeper understanding about and between these groups both nationally and internationally. It has endured for more than 30 consecutive years and has set the standard for all educational and professional agencies in development of similar programs.

1 Comment on Five Questions With… Ariadne Kane

  1. Steve says:

    Oh WOW! That’s her!

    I caught that Donahue show back in 1980. I saw the trailers for it beforehand and stayed home sick from school that day, I was 15. It was so cool! I remember she said something about a conference, Fan Fair I’m sure……………

    The first time I ever saw a trans person on TV and the first I ever heard of an organised event for trans people. What an eye opener!

    I threw away my notes from the program in a purge years ago, but I sure never forgot…………….

    Thanks Helen for putting a name the memories in my head……………..

    And thanks Ariadne for the activism then and now………

    Steve

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