Introducing Kate Bornstein

I had the lovely honor of getting to introduce Kate Bornstein when she spoke at Lawrence, & thought those of you who couldn’t be there might want to know what I said.

Welcome Lawrentians, Appletonians, geeks, freaks & Others with a capital O

Thank you for coming.

What I first started working as an advocate and ally to the transgender community, one of the first authors people recommended was Kate Bornstein. What self professed tomboy could resist a title like Gender Outlaw? I couldn’t stop reading it and I still haven’t. I still re-read sections of it with my classes  & on my own. I read My Gender Workbook – and took all the quizzes – and Hello Cruel World, which taught me that superheroes are, after all, outsiders. So it was a real pleasure, and honor, when a website that features interviews with authors by authors asked me to talk to her. We had been introduced long before then, but that was when we really met. & What surprised me and impressed me the most – amongst all the other possibilities – was how many questions she asked. She is, after all, the Grand Dame of transgender activism and has influenced a generation or two of gender activists, artists, & theorists. As our one hour on the phone turned into three, I realized that it might be because she asks such good questions – of others, & of herself – that she is the star she is.

The questions she has asked of herself have not been easy ones, and they tend to be the kinds of questions most of us would rather avoid. They’re sticky, troublesome questions about identity, and desire, and the dark things that go bump in our psyches when we’r ealone. They are questions of survival, first, but of joy and creativity and community too. She asks them with curiosity & a kind of Puckish delight, which is why she is the 21st century role model for the many communities she inspires.

Please join me in welcome the astonishing, rule-breaking, and shame-liberating Kate Bornstein.

She did tell me she very much liked being referred to as a Grand Dame. Rachel & I had the lovely honor and pleasure of getting to hear a reading of one chapter from her upcoming Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger, and let me/us tell you: we are in for a real treat. It will be published in Spring 2011 by Seven Stories Press.