Welcome Kate Bornstein (KateBornstein.com) and Host Autumn Sandeen (Pam’s House Blend)

A Queer and Pleasant Danger: A Memoir

One of the very first books I read after beginning my transition in 2003 was Kate Bornstein’s Gender Outlaw. My first thoughts were “She is so wrong about transsexual people — we are NOT in between male and female! I know I’m a woman!”

And I still know that as truth about myself, and it’s a different personal truth than the personal truth Kate has embraced for herself. But what I’ve come to realize is that Kate, through that book, taught me that there is no right way to be trans. She taught me that there is not a standard narrative or set of experiences one has when one comes to realize one is a transsexual. I had an orchiectomy instead of a vaginoplasty, and that’s not considered by many to be what my surgical outcome should have been as a transsexual. I accept that I’m a gender outlaw, and always will be one whether I want to be or not — but Kate taught me that that was okay.

Well, now Kate has published her memoir A Queer And Pleasant Danger. The opening paragraph in the cover jacket of Kate Bornstein’s book describes Kate and the book this way:

Scientologist, husband and father, tranny, sailor, slave, playwright, dyke, gender outlaw — these are just a few words that have defined Kate Bornstein during her extraordinary life. For the first time, it all comes together in A Queer And Pleasant Danger, a stunningly original memoir that’s set to change lives and enrapture readers.

The Scientologist part of her history is a major part of the narrative of her memoir, as well as her estrangement from her children that is in major part due to her history with Scientology.

Like so many trans “subcelebrities,” Kate has led a very, very interesting life. But unlike many trans “subcelebrities,” Kate has a way of spinning a tale that is incredibly engrossing. Her interesting life comes alive in a very accessible way — even for folk who aren’t trans.

It always amazes me how many common themes are expressed by trans people in relating their lives. I share with Kate, for example, a mental health diagnosis, a history with faith that impacted my world view and my transition, a love of old school Sci-Fi authors and their books, estrangement from family members to include my children, a love of the arts, and a gender identity that’s not only personal, but is also perceived to be a political identity.

Kate describes her gender this way:

There are a great number of people in the world — I dare say most of ‘em — who would say I’m a pervert and a bad person because I’m a transsexual woman. I was born male and now I’ve got medical and government documents that say I’m female — but I don’t call myself a woman and I know I’m not a man. That’s the part that upsets the pope — he’s worried that talk like that — not male, not female — will shatter the natural order of men and women. I look forward to the day it does.

And expanding some on how she identifies, she also says this:

I call myself trans, or a tranny — and that angers a small but vocal group of transsexual women who see tranny as the equivalent of kike to Jew. Right, I’m a Jew, and everyone knows someone who’s got a thing about the Jews.

And there’s just so much more in this book — it’s a real page-turner.

It’s a book worth discussing.

 

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

161 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Kate Bornstein, A Queer and Pleasant Danger: A Memoir”

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Howdy. Auntie Kate checking in.

BevW August 19th, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Kate, Welcome to the Lake.

Autumn, Thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

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BevW August 19th, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Kate, welcome – everyone should be here in a few minutes.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 1:57 pm

This is your host, Autmn Sandeen here! We’re going to start at 2:00, as BevW has said. =)

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 1:58 pm
In response to BevW @ 2

OK, I think I understand this. So, Bev, I’m replying to you. Thanks for the welcome and the instructions. xo K

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 2:00 pm

So Kate, for our audience here, can you tell them which pronouns do you prefer?

dakine01 August 19th, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Good afternoon Kate and welcome to FDL this afternoon.

Good afternoon Autumn.

Kate, I have not read your book so forgive me if you address this in there but how did Scientology play out against your recognition of being transgender?

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Having had a complicated past with faith and religion, Kate — and I should add to that a complicated past with applied religious philosophy as you described in the book Scientology defines their organization — how do you describe your faith now?

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:02 pm
In response to Autumn Sandeen @ 6

I’m old school. I prefer she and her. I use ze and hir when I wanna be cranky. But singular they works well for me too. How about you?

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 2:03 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 7

Thanks dakine01! Good afternoon to you!

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:03 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 7

Good question dakine. Scientology actually explained my transgender by saying that we are all spiritual beings, and spiritual beings have no gender. Makes sense to me to this day.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 2:04 pm
In response to Kate Bornstein @ 9

I also prefer female pronouns — she and her — but I also use ze and hir on occassion when I want to highlight I very much consider myself to be trans and gender varient.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:04 pm
In response to Autumn Sandeen @ 8

My faith now is a whole lot of trying not to struggle with the Tao.

Or puzzling over Zen koans.

Or playing with Tarot cards.

Or praying in synagogue.

Or sitting peacefully with my cats and dogs.

DWBartoo August 19th, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Kate, thank you for joining us, today.

Autumn, thank you for hosting this Book Salon.

Kate, your life has, obviously, been a most interesting journey.

I am curious about how you came to find the courage to be yourself, when so many people in our society are afraid, were they to “be” themselves, that they might not be very “good” at it … which has always seemed strange to me, since, if one has a healthy sense of self, and grounded, humane sensibilities, what better can one be “at”, than being oneself?

DW

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Here in California where I live, Kate, as of January 1st of this year trans people can now change their legal sex without surgery — and they can do it pretty easily without much cost. In the book you mentioned that you changed your legal sex when you transitioned, though now your statement on your gender is now (as described in the preface of your latest book) is “I don’t call myself a woman and I know I’m not a man.” If a young trans woman came up to you and asked your advice on whether or not to legally change her legal sex in California to female, what would be your personal advice to her be?

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 2:08 pm

We’re glad to be here highlighting Kate and her wonderful book. And I add that it’s well worth the read.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:08 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 14

Made me laugh out loud, DW. I’m always afraid to be myself, and always sure I’m not going to be very good at it. But I learned as an actor to rehearse. And rehearsal is exactly the time to fuck up at creating oneself as a character. Rehearsal is when you want to make every possible mistake you can make. That applies to “being oneself,” too. It takes rehearsal. But since “being oneself” is always shifting, there’s a fuck of a lot of rehearsal time needed.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:10 pm
In response to Autumn Sandeen @ 15

Yup, I changed my legal gender in 1986, because there were no other options. I wouldn’t have advice for anyone who asked me if they “should” change their gender legally, but I’d be interested in helping that person investigate the pros and cons of doing and not doing that.

Margaret August 19th, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Welcome to the lake Kate and thank you for hosting Autumn. As a transwoman myself, (though never a Scientologist, husband or father), I’m glad that there are some voices becoming more mainstream. Though I make no secret about my transwoman status, I don’t always advertise it either. Where do you stand on out and proud vs strategically closeted? My own view is that people have to be free to decide for themselves what best suits them.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 2:13 pm

This question is directly related to your preface again — where you mentioned you have a take on the word tranny. You mentioned in the preface to your book that tranny is a word you embrace for yourself, whereas there are many in trans community that see tranny as a term that’s just too demeaning and dehumanizing to embrace. Can you explain why you embrace the term tranny? And, do you think that trans people embracing and/or reclaiming the term in the same way many in broader LGBT community have embraced/reclaimed the word queer is a good thing?

dakine01 August 19th, 2012 at 2:13 pm
In response to Kate Bornstein @ 17

Did you have to do a lot of ‘rehearsing’ starting back when you were a child?

DWBartoo August 19th, 2012 at 2:15 pm
In response to Kate Bornstein @ 17

Ah yes, but since all that human beings REALLY have to spend IS time … it “works out” pretty well.

After one stops thinking about “who” or “what” one “is”, beyond the awe of being alive and realizing that one is rather fortunate to be “here” … on a pleasant, rotating and revolving planet, which happens to “be” just the right distance from a star, it is simply amazing what opens “up” ….

You certainly know how to enjoy your self, Kate, it would seem … in the ether myths of “time”.

;~DW

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:15 pm
In response to Margaret @ 19

Hi, Margaret. I agree with you. Everyone deserves to keep secrets about themselves, especially if keeping that secret is going to lead to a safer, more comfortable life. The only rule is don’t be mean, and there may or may not be times when being closeted (sex, gender, or otherwise) is being mean to someone. That’s up to every individual to judge.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:17 pm
In response to Autumn Sandeen @ 20

Autumn, I’ve used the word tranny for myself since I learned it from my drag mom, Doris Fish, in San Francisco, 1986. She explained to me that it’s a word that was coined to unite drag queens and transsexuals as family. I see it as a family word, uniting anyone who wants to own the word. I never use the word with malice, and I trust my family to give me the benefit of the doubt that I’m not transphobic when I call myself (or any other self-identitified tranny) a tranny.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:18 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 21

Yep, I’ve been rehearsing “girl” every day of my life since I found out I wasn’t a boy back in kindergarten in 1952.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 2:19 pm
In response to Kate Bornstein @ 23

My friend Laurel, a peer barista at Firedogglake’s Pam’s House Blend (PHB), used to use your “Don’t be mean,” (citing you as the originator of the quote) quote in her signature block (back when PHB was a stand alone blog.)

SamOrchard August 19th, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Heya Kate, I’m a transguy and have been wondering around how to be a better ally with transwomen, and to help combat trans misogyny… with heaps more transguys coming out of the woodwork, what would your top tips be around creating conversations so that transguys don’t take up super amounts of space, or perpetuate yucky sexism stuff….. (it’s 9am here, I dunno if that question even makes sense).

Dearie August 19th, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Kate, thanks so much for joining us. I hope that my curiosity will not be considered rude or thoughtless, but having just endured another round of poking, prodding and scientifically disrobing just to get on a plane back home, I am curious as to what happens if a trans person dresses and looks like a certain gender but carries ID that does not reflect that? I’m just an old grandma, but i get treated like a criminal at certain airports….. and I don’t think I give the TSA anything to question or be confused about.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:20 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 22

Hmmm… I do think humans have more to spend than time. We spend our good name whenever we’re mean. We spend our energy whenever we try to help out others. We spend our peace when we fight for justice. Sure, all that takes place in time, but those are just three more coins that humans spend.

Margaret August 19th, 2012 at 2:20 pm
In response to Kate Bornstein @ 23

The attorney who I used to change my gender status, P.R. Frye once told me that every transgendered person should be active in the community of at least two years. Though I don’t have the kind of life that would support being an advocate/activist full time, my own choice has usually been to be open about who I am and who I was. There have been exceptions to this rule, such as when I felt my livelihood or safety was at stake but I’ve never used it as a weapon or for the purposes of deceit.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Kate, our federal, state, and local governments force us to check either male or female on government forms, and on our identification cards. You don’t have a designation for how you describe your own gender that’s covered by those binary check boxes. If you had a magic wand and could create the amount of, and names of, the gender boxes we often have to check, how many boxes would you have and how would those boxes be designated?

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:24 pm
In response to SamOrchard @ 27

Hi Sam. Question makes sense. FTM has taken over the public face of trans from MTF in just one generation. That bowls me over. And yes, there are splits between the two communities. I don’t think many of the splits happen so much because of gender difference as they do because of class, age, race, and ideology. There are splits because of trans misogyny, sure, and for those I’d give my FTM family the benefit of the doubt that they’re being well-intentioned but are unschooled. Then I’d help to school them, as I hope to be schooled when I fuck up. Fair?

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 2:24 pm

And this one cam from a Twitter follower: What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? =)

Margaret August 19th, 2012 at 2:25 pm
In response to Autumn Sandeen @ 31

That’s a question I’ve often thought of myself Autumn. I’d remove them altogether.

SamOrchard August 19th, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Fair :D Thanks aunty

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:27 pm
In response to Dearie @ 28

Damn good question, about TSA matching/not matching IDs when going through security. My own ID matches my gender expression, PLUS I’m way old and old people have blurry gender to most people anyway. I’m pretty sure that the National Center for Transgender Equality and Lambda Legal would have good advice for trans people who are hassled at TSA check points.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 2:27 pm

From my friend Stephanie Stevens (a peer amateur news archivist at transgendernews) comes this question: What has been your most ‘challenging’ experience over the years, and how did you deal with it?

DWBartoo August 19th, 2012 at 2:27 pm
In response to Kate Bornstein @ 29

We spend time becoming and doing, all of those things Kate, if we choose to do so.

Your comments suggest that you are a very compassionate and wise being, a builder of peace, of tolerance. and of understanding, and I note that your kindergarten “date” makes clear that we are of about the same “vintage”, so, from my perspective, your courage and broad capacities of inspiring others are all the more impressive.

And, I sincerely hope that you do not mind if I say such things?

DW

ink2bwritten August 19th, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Kate how did you first find your sub space? I know it’s personal for everyone but was there a big moment where you said this is my happy place?

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:29 pm
In response to Autumn Sandeen @ 37

My most challenging experience over the years, and how did I deal with it? Huh. It’s always some sort of goodbye. People leave, relationships break up, family and friends die. That’s the most challenging thing I face—it’s so painful to me. I’m still learning how to heal myself over loss and goodbyes. My mom dying. That was the big one.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:30 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 38

Oh purr, darling. You can say all the nice things you WANT to say about me. Really, please do. Not that I believe you, mind you, but I have come to more or less trust that family isn’t going to lie about me. Fair?

dakine01 August 19th, 2012 at 2:31 pm
In response to Autumn Sandeen @ 31

Don’t forget how very long it took for governments to provide a check box for multi-racial rather than the black/white/etc.

Maybe when a transgender person gains the celebrity of a Tiger Woods, the changes will be recognized as needed.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:32 pm
In response to ink2bwritten @ 39

Hi, ink2b. My first big connecting with sub space (I call it bottom space—old school) came when one of my tops cut me with a straight razor, twice, down my back from shoulders to butt in a cello pattern. I swear, it felt like she was releasing my wings. Angels in bottom space, that’s what I see. How about you?

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 2:33 pm
In response to Kate Bornstein @ 24

Personally, I’m comfortable with the term used as a self-identifier, or when it’s used within community — to include drag queens. I’m not so comfortable with the term when it’s used outside of trans community as I’ve had the term thrown at me as an epithet so frequently. The most disturbing one was when I was called a house tranny in relationship to working for my African-American Blog Mistress Pam at PHB.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 2:34 pm

We share a penchant for colored lenses in our prescription glasses. What color is your current favorite tint for your glasses?

ink2bwritten August 19th, 2012 at 2:35 pm

For me it was when I was given my tiger stripes for the first time. My back was so clawed and lashed I found peace. Big thanks btw for proving clearwater scientology always has been crazy. I was a middleschooler that they used to put on school presentations for and bribe with christmas villages.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:35 pm
In response to Autumn Sandeen @ 44

You’d find it disturbing, Autumn? Now see, if I was referred to as a house tranny, I’d find it kind of funny. I’d see it as tongue in cheek. And if I did find it disturbing, I’d begin to use it myself so that it was disturbing enough to others that they might add more trannies to the roster so I wouldn’t be the only one. I believe in the magic of slapstick.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:36 pm
In response to Autumn Sandeen @ 45

I like my round black glasses ting the best. They’re tinted pink on top, yellow on the bottom. I call them my rose-colored Harry Potters.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:38 pm
In response to ink2bwritten @ 46

Whoa! I heard about those Scientology Christmas recruitment parties for Clearwater school kids. I’m very glad you managed to avoid it. And your tiger stripes made me sigh with pleasure for you, hon. Kiss Kiss, Auntie K

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 2:39 pm
In response to Kate Bornstein @ 47

Actually a good point. “Almost thou persuadest me to be a” user of the term.

ink2bwritten August 19th, 2012 at 2:40 pm

when writing a queer and pleasant danger i know you were writing to your daughter and grandchildren. Has there been any response? I know for a fact if they are in the Clearwater area still the library actually owns a copy of your book and it was displayed prominently in the new books section when it came out.

DWBartoo August 19th, 2012 at 2:41 pm
In response to Kate Bornstein @ 41

Now, Kate, I’ve nae need ta lie.

And you’ll find that them what are here are a more than trustworthy lot.

And that’s the fair wind of truth, it is.

DW

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:42 pm
In response to ink2bwritten @ 51

I’ve not heard from my daughter, Jessica Leah Baxter, nor from her children Christopher and (I believe) Celaina. I don’t expect to hear from them, not for some time yet. The book’s only been out a few months and hasn’t reached anywhere near the critical mass it would take to penetrate the bubble that surrounds Scientology Sea Org members. Yes, I believe they’re all three in the Clearwater area, and I send them my love whenever and however I can. Like I just did in the last sentence.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:43 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 52

See? Putting trust in family pays off. Thank you, darling thing.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 2:44 pm

A lot — and I mean a lot — of my trans friends have told me they’re cutters. When Laura Jane Grace (the lead singer of the punk band Against Me!) came out as trans she also came out as a cutter (in a recent Rolling Stone article where she came out). And, then you mentioned in your book that you’re a cutter too. What are your thoughts on trans community members in significant numbers being cutters?

ink2bwritten August 19th, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Strangely enough I could start leaving photocopies of the letter at starbucks again. It is the most visited place in downtown by Sea Org members and well certain antics I may have played in high school means that I am nearly as despised as ex members. More then willing even if it’s just so they know.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:46 pm
In response to Autumn Sandeen @ 55

Ah, cutting. Well, this is the first I’ve heard that a high percentage of trans folk are or have been cutters. Makes sense to me. We live in cognitive dissonance with our bodies. Cutting has always helped me get back in touch with my body. I’ve learned—after decades—not to cut out of self-hatred and self-loathing. Mostly, I get cut in my SM play—by others, or by myself. Still puts me back in touch with my body.

ink2bwritten August 19th, 2012 at 2:47 pm
In response to Autumn Sandeen @ 55

I think that could be because cutting is control. Yes it may not be the healthiest form of it. But when everything else seems out of control you can control the razor.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:47 pm
In response to ink2bwritten @ 56

Tell you what, kiddo. I’ll take you up on that as soon as I get any wind that my daughter or grandchildren are in any danger of Scientology’s inhumane “ethics” treatment. Thanks.

ink2bwritten August 19th, 2012 at 2:49 pm

You’re more then welcome. The things they do well I cleaned up messes from kids who ran.

Siun August 19th, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Just in the midst of reading Kate’s book and had to stop in to say it is the most wonderful read indeed! and a great big marvelous nudge to live who we truly are!

Dearie August 19th, 2012 at 2:50 pm

More curiosity, and perhaps you address this in the book, but do you recall what drew you to Scientology in the first place and then what cued you to get out?

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Question from twitter: @Afthought comments: “Isn’t it clear that “tranny” is all about shifting gears?” I think that’s a good point. The gap between transgender and tranny is similar to the gaps between lesbian and dyke, and gay man and faggot. BIG gear-shifting involved in jumping those self-claimed names.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 2:51 pm
In response to Siun @ 61

I agree. Hey, and even Amanda Palmer (previously of the Dresden Dolls) wrote commentary for the cover jacket praising the book!

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:51 pm
In response to Siun @ 61

Thank you, Siun. In truth, I never saw that potential in the book as I was writing it. ::hugs::

ink2bwritten August 19th, 2012 at 2:52 pm

When you first started on twitter did you ever realize how many people you would touch in such profound ways? Particularly with #stayalive and #MNGW.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy: I got into Scientology a) because they told me I was spiritual being with no gender and b) they had all the answers. Having been raised a Jew, all I ever got was questions, and it was questions of gender and spirit that scared the hell out of me. How did I get out? I experienced some pretty hard evidence that L. Ron Hubbard was skimming money off the income (I know, duh, but we didn’t believe he would ever do that), and they offered me the choice: hard physical labor for three years (Rehabilitation Project Force), or excommunication. I chose the latter. I still believe I’m a spiritual being with no gender. Heh.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:57 pm
In response to ink2bwritten @ 66

When I first got on to Twitter, it was only a few hundred people I was in touch with. There was a lot more of a chance to interact with a LOT of people. Now, there’s thousands, and the best way I’ve found to stay in touch is through hashtags. #stayalive still helps me do exactly that. And #MNGW (My New Gender Workbook) helped me write a whole new fucking edition to the gender workbook. I NEVER saw that coming, and I’m so grateful to people who chipped in.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 2:58 pm

I’m curious: any Doctor Who fans who’ve read my memoir—did you spot the easter eggs? hehehe

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 3:03 pm
In response to Kate Bornstein @ 69

Not me. Damn, and I love Doctor Who.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:04 pm
In response to Autumn Sandeen @ 70

There’s Doctor Who easter eggs in the dedication, and a couple of chapter titles.

ink2bwritten August 19th, 2012 at 3:05 pm

To tell the truth I am still missing your tweets about Caprica. But I think I remember stuff that was whovian in there.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 3:06 pm

There’s an interesting discussion going on with the term tranny on twitter as well as here in the comment thread with @Afthought, @katebornstein, @carlamatic and me (@AutumnSandeen). We’re talking about automatic and stick shift trannies, as well as dipsticks for checking fluids.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Hmmm… is this half time? Seventh inning stretch? Intermission? I’ve got another 53 minutes in which I’ve committed to answering ANY questions. Got one?

ink2bwritten August 19th, 2012 at 3:07 pm

I know there’s a little rascals reference in there. And a river song moment occasionally.

dakine01 August 19th, 2012 at 3:07 pm
In response to Autumn Sandeen @ 73

OK, now that really did make me laugh out loud :})

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:09 pm
In response to Autumn Sandeen @ 73

OK, you’re calling the “tranny” discussion on Twitter “interesting,” but I would call it scary cuz someone got really really angry with me. All SORTS of points of view in the world.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Speaking of those, Kate, who disagree vehemently with your use of the term tranny, @carlamatic on twitter gave this response:

Tranny “angers a small but vocal group”? *sigh* This condescension is why I unfollowed you, Kate.

And…

But what the fuck. If you want to call yourself a tranny go for it. Just don’t try to get that shit on ME.

I don’t see your embracing of the term as condescending or that you’re trying to get others to embrace the term for themselves. Carlamatic is projecting what she thinks your views are on the term, or do I have that right?

Teddy Partridge August 19th, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Thank you both very much for being here to discuss this important book. I’m jumping in without reading either the book or previous chat comments, so please forgive if this has been discussed already, but I want to ask about your military service, Kate Bornstein. There’s been some undeserved controversy over Autumn Sandeen’s donning a woman’s military uniform (when chained to the White House fence, for instance) and I wonder how your veterans experience has intersected with your trans identity, Ms Bornstein.

And can you expand on the “danger” in your book’s title, please? Do you see yourself as a danger to the gender binary, and in what ways?

Thanks again to both of you for being here today!

Dearie August 19th, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Well, hey, I’m still curious, so I’ll ask….and you’ve been a gracious and generous sharer, btw….. I take it that your daughter was born while you were active in Scientology. Was she caught up in the child education junk … or did her biological mother keep her caught up in the ‘religion’? And as a mother who lost a child (though in a totally different way), I am sorry for your loss. hope the chick comes around at some point, and with her chicklets in tow. Just because….. grandmommying is such fun.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:12 pm
In response to Autumn Sandeen @ 78

You see @carlamatic’s tweets at me the same way I see them. And it’s for this reason that I’m advocating for more of our own tribe to give the benefit of the doubt to people. Sigh.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 3:13 pm
In response to Kate Bornstein @ 77

Hmm. I don’t see it as scary as much as it is funny. I don’t understand why others are so infuriated by self-identifying terms, or terms used to unite community — I think it’s over-the-top ridiculous. How you identify doesn’t impact them at all, and I think it’s funny that they care so much how you self-identify — it’s not their problem.

ink2bwritten August 19th, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Okay when it comes to the term tranny it’s like the word queer. If you embrace it it doesn’t hurt so much. If you own it then no one has a right to destroy it. I’m not a tranny boy I don’t even really like the word transman but by god if you want to use it as a slur for me I will take it own it and beat you over the head with it if necessary.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:15 pm

My military experience was all of one day at a draft center in Boston. I was a first year graduate student in acting. My professors and classmates coached me on a subtle madness act, and I got out of service with a psychiatric deferment. But, really? It wasn’t much of an act.

As to the “danger” in the book… well, I see myself in dual roles of trickster and boddhisatva (well, boddhisatva-in-training) — and both those are dangerous to the culture at large. PLUS, Tony Ortega at the Village Voice just added me to his list of the Top 25 People Crippling Scientology. So, I guess I’m a bit of a danger to them.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 3:15 pm

I love a man — and even more a woman — in uniform.

Siun August 19th, 2012 at 3:17 pm
In response to Autumn Sandeen @ 78

Oh dear, sounds so like when some folks got really disturbed by others self-identifying as “queer.”

It always makes me sad when people seem to internalize the social hostilities to our selves but that’s just my read on such reactions.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 3:18 pm
In response to Kate Bornstein @ 84

“Trickster” — are using that term in relationship to the term deceptive? I don’t see you as deceptive…except when you choose to lie, as you mentioned a few times in your book.

ink2bwritten August 19th, 2012 at 3:18 pm

You could always do an interview for the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St Pete Times) they run pretty frequent ex Sea Org hierarchy interviews.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:18 pm
In response to Dearie @ 80

Yes, Jessica was born into Scientology. Her mom and step-dad asked me to sign over parental rights about a year after I left the cult. I did. I knew they loved her, and would give her food and shelter. I thought I was a sick-ass pervert and not fit to be a parent. Looking back, I think I was right back then. But I also think I’ve grown up into a place where I’d make a good parent and grandparent to them now, if they ever want that. Thank you for your kind wishes.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Kate, this is probably an odd quetion, but do you go sailing at all now?

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:20 pm
In response to Autumn Sandeen @ 87

Wes “Scoop” Nisker wrote a book called “Crazy Wisdom,” all about the role of tricksters in cultures around the world. Coyote, raven, tortoise, and Nazrudin are only four examples. I think it’s a spiritual and honorable path. If someone offered me a job as court jester to President Obama, I’d leap at the chance.

Dearie August 19th, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Kate @85, sounds to me like you are a good parent and grandparent to many people! I am really enjoying getting to know you a bit! Thanks so much for spending this time with us……and I really look forward to reading your book and sharing it with my daughters, one of whom is a college professor who does a lot of gender studies stuff.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:23 pm
In response to Autumn Sandeen @ 90

I never learned how to sail!! And that was all the more reason it was stupid of L. Ron Hubbard to make me First Mate of his 364′ twin-screw ocean-going motor yacht. All I knew was how to take care of the decks and the hull, and I could tie a few fancy knots. But when you’re in the Sea Organization, they tell you that you’ve done EVERYTHING before, at least once in some past life time—so I was supposed to remember how to be a First Mate. Gahhhhhh! And I never liked small boats. I get way seasick.

Siun August 19th, 2012 at 3:23 pm
In response to Kate Bornstein @ 91

Oh goodness, he needs one!

ink2bwritten August 19th, 2012 at 3:23 pm

You have stories behind each of your tattoos. Which one is your favorite and why?

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Kate, how does your sexuality intersect with gender identity? Do you see these as separate but interrelated, or as very intertwined — or something else altogether?

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:24 pm
In response to Siun @ 86

That’s why I think there’s a three-part activism that needs to be practiced by anyone out on the margins of a culture:
1) Radical wonder.
2) Radical welcoming.
3) Giving the benefit of the doubt to tribe.

Teddy Partridge August 19th, 2012 at 3:25 pm
In response to Siun @ 86

Reclaiming terms used as hate speech is always hard for some members of the community, e.g. queer and faggot. I don’t like hearing the N-word and challenge African-American schoolchildren on public transit when I hear it (I’m white).

But with “trans” I think there is more at work linguistically and identity-wise. Some people are trans — they migrate among their gender identities while society holds up a binary for them to choose between. Other trans persons I know identify as transwomen or transmen: their identity is within one of the binary constructs but they are confident and comfortable with their transition. Other persons wish to inhabit what we used to call the “destination” gender entirely, and shed their transness. They want to be, and think of themselves as, entirely men or entirely women.

For folks my age, who came up learning to be respectful of self-identity, it is the malleability and “trickster” aspect that unsettles. I want to slot people into an identity, so that I can assign expected attributes and expectations. My younger trans friends have taught me, though, that they like to migrate across the gender border. I can’t have consistent gender expectations of them, because their identity is more fluid.

I like their new world, because it keeps me alert and on my toes. In the same way racial boundaries are breaking down with more and more blended-heritage children in our world (what I call “people of the future”) I think these New Transpeople are challenging our gender expectations in a way that can only end the false dichotomy society has defended and required for so long.

frmrirprsn August 19th, 2012 at 3:26 pm

If this question is offensive please excuse my ignorance and ignore me. I don’t have any context for “cutter” except as a description of someone who does harm to her or his own body. I don’t know anything about “tiger stripes.” I quickly tried Google but didn’t get anything that seemed relevant.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 3:27 pm
In response to Kate Bornstein @ 97

GetEqual calls number two radical inclusivity.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:27 pm
In response to Autumn Sandeen @ 96

My sexuality and gender—like many people’s—are intricately woven, one with the other. I call myself a dyke, so I lean toward the girl or femme side of my gender identity and expression. My sexuality chiefly expresses itself through my sadomasochism, and while that doesn’t depend on gender, it does for me. I like playing with women and trans* people best. Makes me feel more secure and understood.

ink2bwritten August 19th, 2012 at 3:27 pm

You often talk about your tattoos and how each means something immensely special to you but I wonder which one is your favorite and why?

Suzanne August 19th, 2012 at 3:27 pm
In response to Kate Bornstein @ 74

i don’t have a question — just wanted to say thank you — this has been a wonderful discussion. going back to lurking now

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:28 pm
In response to Suzanne @ 103

Oh, THERE you are! Well, kiss kiss and happy lurking. I’m glad you’re enjoying the discussion. So am I.

ink2bwritten August 19th, 2012 at 3:28 pm
In response to frmrirprsn @ 99

Tiger stripes are when a partner leaves nail marks or lash marks from a flogger, whip, or crop all over your back so they look like tiger stripes.

Teddy Partridge August 19th, 2012 at 3:29 pm

{I just realized from my own comment going into moderation how challenging today’s Book Salon must be for FDL moderators, so here’s a shoutout to them and all their hard work today!}

frmrirprsn August 19th, 2012 at 3:30 pm
In response to ink2bwritten @ 105

Thank you.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:31 pm
In response to ink2bwritten @ 102

My left arm tats are all seven of Neil Gaiman’s The Endless (use the google machine) because it reminds me I’m in any one of their realms at any given time: Death, Destruction, Dream, Destiny, Despair, Desire, and Delirium. My right arm is all Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who because I think the only thing that can explain Starbuck in the re-envisioned BSG is that she was also a companion of the Doctor. And this is ONLY going to make sense to fans of both shows. I know.

Teddy Partridge August 19th, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Wow. Just wow.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Less than 30 minutes to go. Did I miss anyone’s question during all this refreshing and scrolling? If so, please ask again. xoxo

ink2bwritten August 19th, 2012 at 3:34 pm

That makes all too much sense. The other option is that Starbuck was a timelord who regretted regeneration.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:35 pm
In response to ink2bwritten @ 111

And THAT could also make Starbuck the offspring of an infected cylon. Which she could very well be! I waver back and forth between Starbuck and Caprica Six as role models in BSG.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 3:36 pm

The few paragraphs in the memoir in which you write about Janice Raymond, and there seem to be a significant number of trans people who know who she is and of her book The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male.

Most trans people seem to know who she is, and most feminists don’t seem to have a clue who she is. And most trans people have what I’d call negative reactions to her work. Do you have a theory why so many trans people know what she thinks, and why we respond so much on a gut level when we become of aware of her writing, such as your suicidical ideation or others angrily railing against her over 30-years after her book was published?

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:36 pm

I want to be a timelord. I’d be known as The Auntie.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Well, Janice Raymond is SMART. She reasons well. So, she makes good arguments for transgender-as-evil-misogynists. But she works with assumptions, not facts, and that makes her a really smart evil villain, like some female Lex Luthor.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 3:39 pm
In response to Suzanne @ 103

I’m glad you’re lurking too. =)

Kate changed my worldview on sex and gender a long time ago. As I get older, I keep getting closer to how she thinks about sex and gender.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Potty break. BRB.

ink2bwritten August 19th, 2012 at 3:41 pm

But then you’d be a character in the Doctor’s wife and have the arm of Corsair.

DWBartoo August 19th, 2012 at 3:41 pm
In response to Kate Bornstein @ 91

Kate Dangerous.

You is!

Your devastating wit certainly “blends” right into your well-earned wisdom with wicked powerful “ease” …

The Obama Administration would never be the same again … and that would be nothing but a good thing. It might make all the difference in the world.

I cannot help but think of Douglas Adams when encountering your words, Kate. Your sensibilities remind me of him, of his abiding self-honesty and especially the “timing” of his humor … as an old atheist, but convinced that we are spiritual beings having a human experience, I think that bold imagination may well be our most important human “resource” going forward, as opposed to only “looking” that “way” …

And, you are a most wonderful, thoughtful, and loving parent and grandparent, as I hope those whom you so love and cherish may, someday, fully know and experience.

We have a term here at FDL, introduced by and shared with us by a true wisdom amongst us, and I should like to share it with you, as I must, unfortunately, now leave this most excellent Book Salon to do things which time demands of me.

Namaste

DW

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Stephanie Stevens asked what has been your most ‘challenging’ experience over the years, and how you dealt with it.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Back. I pee faster since my genital conversion surgery. Ain’t that a hoot? Just an observation.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:43 pm
In response to ink2bwritten @ 118

Aieeeee! True, true. I’d have to be the OTHER auntie.

Margaret August 19th, 2012 at 3:44 pm

She’s also deliberately offensive. The Fred Phelps of the transgendered community almost.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:45 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 119

OK, your post @ 119 made me cry happy tears.

Namaste, right back, darling.

Suzanne August 19th, 2012 at 3:45 pm

kate, why did you write this book?

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:47 pm
In response to Margaret @ 123

Yes, Janice Raymond thinks she’s so powerful that she needs to protect women, in much the same way as Fred Phelps thinks he’s so powerful that he needs to protect true believers of Jesus Christ. And both of them are mean in the way they go about it. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Nasty people upset me.

Margaret August 19th, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Pretty much has to be some kind of Cylon progeny as she only exists in the Galactica paradigm.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 3:47 pm

I know quite a few trans women who learned a lot of what they initially knew about transsexual people from reading tranny porn and forced feminization stories (such as what used to be up at Fictionmania and the Sandy Thomas line of forced feminisation novels). I’m curious: is this where you learned a lot about trans people first too?

Margaret August 19th, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Well, before I became Margaret, I had a hat that says “Mean People Suck” and while I no longer wear the hat, the sentiment is still there.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 3:49 pm
In response to Margaret @ 127

Are you a comic book geek as well? If so, your favorite superhero?

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:50 pm

hahahahahaha! Yes, I learned a LOT about trans from tranny porn, FictionMania.com, and lots of forced feminization novels. I still have a small collection of them at home, and they still turn me on. Love that shit.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:51 pm

My favorite superhero (with super powers) was Plastic Man. He could change himself into ANYTHING. My favorite super villain (who I wanna be) is Harley Quinn.

ink2bwritten August 19th, 2012 at 3:52 pm

A lot of transguys learn from Buck Angel. I still want to grow up to be that guy.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:52 pm

EIGHT MORE MINUTES TIL BYE BYE. LAST CALL FOR QUESTIONS/COMMENTS?

BevW August 19th, 2012 at 3:52 pm

As we come to the last few minutes of this great Book Salon discussion,

Kate, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book and your life.

Autumn, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Kate’s website (KateBornstein) and book (A Queer and Pleasant Danger)

Autumn’s website (FDL/Pam’s House Blend)

Thanks all, Have a great week.

If you would like to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

Dearie August 19th, 2012 at 3:53 pm

What’s next in your bag of tricks?? What are you working on? Are you performing? Where might we see or meet you? And…. are you having fun?!

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Stepping out of my role as moderator for a moment, I learned a lot from those forced fem novels myself — such as when my nipples hurt from the hormones, I’d learned about those painful nodules under the areola from a Sandy Thomas published novel. In the seventies and eighties before the internet, they were a source of a lot of good transition information.

Margaret August 19th, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Rogue. Without question.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:55 pm
In response to BevW @ 135

Thank you, Miss Bev, for your hospitality. Thank you, Autumn, for your gracious hosting.

After this is done, I’m still available to answer any questions if you tweet me @katebornstein.

5.

More.

Minutes.

Margaret August 19th, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Thanks for your book. I’ve been working on one myself that if it ever gels will be tentatively titled “I’m From Earth”. And thanks for being here.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:56 pm
In response to Dearie @ 136

Next up, I wanna write a young adult novel. I wanna write a girl that EVERYONE who reads her is gonna fall in love with her, and I want her to be a fierce young tranny girl in the city.

Fun? I have that every moment I get to be a source of delight to someone.

kiss kiss

ink2bwritten August 19th, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Are you writing anything new? Now that MNGW is with the printers.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 3:56 pm

I note from the book that your pets are pretty important to you. What do you receive from your pets that causes them to be important to you?

Dearie August 19th, 2012 at 3:56 pm
In response to Margaret @ 140

I’ll be watching for that……….you, Margaret, are our own treasure!

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:57 pm
In response to ink2bwritten @ 142

The revision to My Gender Workbook is in to the copy editor. Printer in a couple of months. On the shelves on Valentine’s Day 2013. Next up, see my post @ 141.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Oops. With three minutes left, no time for a pets question answer I’m guessing.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:58 pm

I get love from the cats and dogs I live with. It’s the most focused love i get other than when I’m playing in SM.

Dearie August 19th, 2012 at 3:59 pm

PS: Kate, I googled you, and you are, indeed, lovely!

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 3:59 pm
In response to Dearie @ 148

Oh purr. Thank you.

Teddy Partridge August 19th, 2012 at 3:59 pm

This was so great, thanks to everyone who participated, and especially our author and host and coordinator.

Margaret August 19th, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Yes. Seconded. Thank you very much.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Thanks to all who participated, and to all who lurked, and to all who are reading this days, weeks, and months later. Yay FireDogLake for making this forum possible.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 4:00 pm

This has been a wonderful discussion folks — especially the tranny part of the discussion. On a personal note I know I’m going to be thinking about my position on the word because of this and offline discussions I’ve had with Kate — I’m still learning from Kate.

Margaret August 19th, 2012 at 4:02 pm

I’m still not going to embrace “tranny” at least for myself but it’s a legitimate topic for debate.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Oh, I bet you say that to ALL the trannies.

hehehe

kiss kiss, my darling.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Okay, it’s 7:01 EDT, and 4:01 PDT folks. The discussion here is now formally closed — at least in this comment thread. Let me echo Kate’s thanks to all who participated and lurked, and special thanks to Kate for graciously sharing her time with us.

Kate Bornstein August 19th, 2012 at 4:04 pm

OK, I love you. Buh-bye.

Autumn Sandeen August 19th, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Kisses and hugs in return. =)

August 19th, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Well, gosh, Kate and Autumn, I have to give you both big thanks for today’s salon.
I fb’d (don’t hate me) Autumn when Pam’s blend joined fdl and have enjoyed reading her comments and links.
Thanks, both of youz.

August 19th, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Peg – my long ago offer to help edit still stands.
Just a curious cat.

Siun August 19th, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Got called away – but wanted to thank Teddy for helpful comment and just note that I now officially adore Kate.

Sorry but the comments are closed on this post