Kate Bornstein

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Kate Bornstein
Kate Bornstein2010.jpg
Kate Bornstein at Babeland in Seattle in December 2010
Born (1948-03-15) March 15, 1948 (age 71)
ResidenceNew York City
OccupationPerformance artist
Website katebornstein.com

Katherine Vandam "Kate" Bornstein [1] (born March 15, 1948) [2] is an American author, playwright, performance artist, actress, and gender theorist. In 1986, Bornstein identified 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 gender affirmation surgery. [3] She now identifies with the pronouns they/them or she/her. [4] Bornstein has also written about having anorexia, being a survivor of PTSD and being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. [5] Bornstein has chronic lymphocytic leukemia and in September 2012 was diagnosed with lung cancer. [6]

Sex reassignment surgery (SRS), also known as gender reassignment surgery (GRS) and several other names, is a surgical procedure by which a transgender person's physical appearance and function of their existing sexual characteristics are altered to resemble that socially associated with their identified gender. It is part of a treatment for gender dysphoria in transgender people.

Anorexia nervosa eating disorder characterized by refusal to maintain a healthy body weight, and an obsessive fear of gaining weight due to a distorted self image

Anorexia nervosa, often referred to simply as anorexia, is an eating disorder, characterized by low weight, food restriction, fear of gaining weight, and a strong desire to be thin. Many people with anorexia see themselves as overweight even though they are, in fact, underweight. They often deny that they have a problem with low weight. They weigh themselves frequently, eat small amounts, and only eat certain foods. Some exercise excessively, force themselves to vomit, or use laxatives to produce weight loss. Complications may include osteoporosis, infertility, and heart damage, among others. Women will often stop having menstrual periods.

Borderline personality disorder personality disorder that involves a prolonged disturbance of personality function characterized by depth and variability of moods

Borderline personality disorder (BPD), also known as emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD), is a long-term pattern of abnormal behavior characterised by unstable relationships with other people, unstable sense of self and unstable emotions. There is often dangerous behavior and self-harm. People may also struggle with a feeling of emptiness and a fear of abandonment. Symptoms may be brought on by seemingly normal events. The behavior typically begins by early adulthood and occurs across a variety of situations. Substance abuse, depression, and eating disorders are commonly associated with BPD. Up to 10% of people affected die by suicide.



Early life

Born in Neptune City, New Jersey, into a middle-class Conservative Jewish family of Russian and Dutch descent, [7] Bornstein studied Theater Arts with John Emigh and Jim Barnhill at Brown University (Class of '69). She joined the Church of Scientology, becoming a high ranking lieutenant in the Sea Org [8] [9] [10] 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. [11]

Neptune City, New Jersey Borough in New Jersey, United States

Neptune City is a borough in Monmouth County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 4,869, reflecting a decline of 349 (-6.7%) from the 5,218 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 221 (+4.4%) from the 4,997 counted in the 1990 Census.

John Emigh is Professor Emeritus from the Departments of Theatre, Speech and Dance and of English at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. Emigh taught at Brown from 1967 to 2009. Since his retirement, he has mainly been teaching and directing in the Brown/Trinity Rep MFA program.

Brown University University in Providence, Rhode Island

Brown University is a private Ivy League research university in Providence, Rhode Island. Founded in 1764 as the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, it is the seventh-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution.

Transition and post-op

Bornstein never felt comfortable with the belief of the day that all trans women are "women trapped in men's bodies." [12] She 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.

Gender binary is the classification of gender into two distinct, opposite, and disconnected forms of masculine and feminine, whether by social system or cultural belief.

Bornstein settled into the lesbian community in San Francisco, and wrote art reviews for the gay and lesbian paper The Bay Area Reporter . [13] Over the next few years, she began to identify as neither a man nor a woman. [14] 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 derail "teens, freaks, and other outlaws" from committing suicide. "Do whatever it takes to make your life more worth living," Bornstein writes, "just don't be mean." [15]

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

Barbara Carrellas is an author, sex educator, performance artist, and certified sexologist accredited through the American College of Sexologists. She facilitates workshops in which participants explore sexuality through a holistic approach that includes practices like erotic breathwork and Tantra, and she has lectured at various institutions, including the Museum of Sex in New York City, Vassar College, Barnard College, and the Chicago Art Institute. She is known for her "breath and energy orgasm" techniques, which she says are "orgasms you can have using your imagination and your breath." Carrellas learned the technique during the height of the AIDS epidemic as a way for people to orgasm without physical contact. Such techniques, she says, offers a way for "people to have more safer-sex options."

Cancer diagnosis

In August 2012, Bornstein was diagnosed with lung cancer. Doctors thought that she was cancer-free after surgery, but it emerged in February 2013 that the disease had returned. Laura Vogel, a friend of hers, launched a GoFundMe campaign on March 20 to help fund the cancer treatment. [17]


In 1989, Bornstein created a theatre production in collaboration with Noreen Barnes, Hidden: A Gender, based on parallels between her own life and that of the intersex person Herculine Barbin. [18] 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. [19] Bornstein edited Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation in collaboration with S. Bear Bergman. [20] The anthology won Lambda Literary and Publishing Triangle Awards in 2011. [21] [22] Bornstein's autobiography, titled A Queer and Pleasant Danger: A Memoir, was released May 2012, and in April 2013, she 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. [23]


Performance pieces

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  1. Bornstein, Kate (5 May 2012). "My Scientology excommunication". Salon.com . Retrieved 2012-05-06.
  2. "LC Linked Data Service: Authorities and Vocabularies (Library of Congress)". id.loc.gov. The Library of Congress. Retrieved 2018-03-05.CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. Bornstein, Kate (2012). A Queer and Pleasant Danger: A Memoir. Beacon Press. pp. II. ISBN   9780807001660.
  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.
  6. Bornstein, Kate. "Bad News and Wonderful News". Kate Bornstein's Blog. Retrieved Feb 13, 2013.
  7. "Kate Bornstein's Gender and Genre Bending" (PDF). LGBT Jewish Heroes. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-12. Retrieved 2012-11-04.
  8. ""A Queer and Pleasant Danger": Kate Bornstein, Trans Scientology Survivor". Mother Jones . Retrieved August 27, 2012.
  9. "No Longer At Sea: Kate Bornstein Talks Scientology". Religion Dispatches . 2012-06-27. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
  10. "A Queer and Pleasant Danger by Kate Bornstein – Powell's Books" . Retrieved August 27, 2012.
  11. Moore, David. "Kate Bornstein to perform at UNC-Charlotte" . Retrieved 2009-06-12.
  12. Bornstein, Kate (1994). Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us. Routledge. p. 66. ISBN   978-0415908979.
  13. Piechota, Jim (2012-08-09). "Surviving Scientology". Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved Feb 13, 2013.
  14. Lavelle, Ciara (September 2, 2016). "Eileen Myles, the Property Brothers, and Others Coming to Miami Book Fair 2016". Miami New Times. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  15. Kate Bornstein (2010-10-06). "Don't Be Mean? Really?". Kate Bornstein Is A Queer and Pleasant Danger—this is her blog. Retrieved 2015-09-13.
  16. Piechota, Jim (2012-08-09). "Surviving Scientology". Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved Feb 13, 2013.
  17. Morgan, Glennisha (2013-03-22). "Kate Bornstein, Transgender Activist And Theorist, Receives Support For Cancer Fundraiser". Huffington Post.
  18. "Kate Bornstein's Gender and Genre Bending" (PDF). LGBT Jewish Heroes. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-12. Retrieved 2012-11-04.
  19. "Kate Bornstein". Seven Stories Press.
  20. "Interview with S. Bear Bergman". Genderfork. 2009-10-29. Retrieved 2009-11-13.
  21. "Triangle Awards: Kate Bornstein". Out-FM. 2011-05-06. Archived from the original on 2015-02-22. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
  22. "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 ]
  23. M. B. (October 2016). "Kate Bornstein". Out. 25: 57 via LGBT Life with Full Text.

Further reading