Kate Bornstein

Kate Bornstein

Trans Icon, Author, and Performance Artist



Since 1989, trans trailblazer Kate Bornstein has—with humor and spunk—ushered us into a world of limitless possibility through a daring re-envisionment of the gender system as we know it. Kate identifies as nonbinary: not a man, and not a woman—and she’s been writing about nonbinary gender identity for nearly thirty years.

Kate was born Albert Bornstein in 1948, in Asbury Park, New Jersey. At an early age, he came to the conclusion that he wasn't a boy, and that she didn't want to grow up to be a man. To Albert, being a boy was all acting, and pretending to be a boy. In 1984, she began her hormonal, surgical, and social transition from male to female, which she completed in 1986—she was a woman! In less than two years, she realized that being a woman was for her no more than acting and pretending...just like it had been for being a man. So in 1988, Kate gave up the idea of being a woman, and now she lives on the edge of paradox: she is not a man, and not a woman. She looks beyond the gender binary to see gender as both a conscious practice, and a playful journey.

Kate's work is taught in five languages, in over 300 high schools, colleges, and universities around the world. The titles of her books say a lot about who she is, and how she views things:

Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us (now in its 2nd edition) • My New Gender Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving World Peace Through Gender Anarchy and Sex Positivity (now in its 2nd edition) • Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws • A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She Is Today

Currently, you can see Kate onscreen as Joan, the church lady, in the film, Saturday Church. Kate is the subject of Sam Feder's award-winning documentary, “Kate Bornstein Is a Queer and Pleasant Danger.” Kate's work on suicide prevention, and her advocacy for marginalized and at-risk youth has earned her two citations of outstanding citizenship from the New York City Council.

Kate has been on the road lecturing and performing for over 25 years, at colleges, high schools, and anywhere people gather to talk about gender. At this time, Kate is writing a new book: Trans! Just For the Fun Of It: compassionate gender strategies for divisive times, sections of which she's developing interactively on her blog, where she invites your input and feedback.

If you haven't read Kate's work or heard her speak before, get ready—she is the radical role model, the affectionate best friend, and the guiding mentor all in one. You will come away energized, comforted, and full of hope.

Beyond Binaries: Navigating the Quantum Self Dive deep into the complexities of gender with this revolutionary presentation. Kate will explore gender not just as a binary but as a multi-dimensional experience, where biology meets the mind, spirit, and the very fabric of spacetime. This presentation will challenge your perceptions, expand your understanding, and invite you to view gender identity through a radically-inclusive lens.

Transgender is Here to Stay - So Now What Do You Do? With Laverne Cox on the cover of Time, and Jazz Jennings with her own television show, it's clear that the world of transgender is itself in transition. Kate Bornstein speaks to the changing language of trans, the clear division that runs through almost every trans community, and a strategy for unifying all our new and disparate trans identities without invisibilizing anyone. "This new world beyond the tipping point," says Kate, "helped me sort out a brand new gender theory that works, and it's not at all complicated. I call it Bornstein's Theory of Relativity."Kate designed this lecture or workshop to give you the tools you'll need to mindfully articulate, discuss, have fun with, and navigate on your own terms, the world beyond a transgender tipping point

On Men, Women and the Rest of Us Come spend a cozy time with your very own Auntie Kate, who promises you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll gasp out loud as she speaks about the last thirty years of her life as a nonbinary identified queer trans dyke. This is a performance featuring her most favorite heartwarming anecdotes, touching and sometimes painful personal trials and tribulations, and inspiring tales of putting the world to rights. Her performance is at once deeply personal and universally acceptable, weaving together stand-up comedy, theatrical monologues, and heart-to-heart storytelling to convey the experience of her long, rich nonbinary trans life. And just to show how much she loves you, every audience member will leave the theater with the gift of a Get Out of Hell Free card.

Trans: For the Fun of It In late May, 2014, Time Magazine proclaimed a transgender tipping point. Since then, Kate Bornstein—pioneer nonbinary trans author, activist, and performance artist—has been studying and exploring trans identities that have made no such headway into mainstream culture. In this talk, Kate will use basic tenets of postmodern theory, Tibetan Buddhism, and particle physics. “They all overlap at slapstick comedy,” she insists, going on to say, “transgender life has gotten awfully serious as of late, and I want to remind people that there’s a great deal of physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual joy that can be had by creating and living one's gender mindfully.”

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Kate Bornstein Speaking at the 40th Reunion of the Class of '69, Brown University


Kate Bornstein: A Queer and Pleasant Danger

In an age of often hostilely expressed gender politics, Ms. Bornstein gently leads audiences through her own psychic labyrinth without antagonism. She is sweet, sincere, lucid and sometimes as corny as Kansas in August. She really should have her own television show
The New York Times

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