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Legendary Transgender Author Coming to Town

By Joseph Erbentraut in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 18, 2010 8:00PM

2010_02_18_bornstein.jpg Transsexual author and artist Kate Bornstein is a name synonymous with social change in the most progressive sense, with living outside of the rigorously defined and policed notion of a gender binary and with challenging societal norms a-plenty. For this reason, Bornstein's upcoming Chicagoland appearance is worth a spot on your calendar.

Bornstein, who was raised in a conservative Jewish family in North Dakota and later joined the Church of Scientology for a time, wrote one of the seminal modern works on gender theory for the transgender community, 1995's Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us. She (her preferred pronoun, though she identifies as neither female or male) has long felt uncomfortable with the notion that only two sexes define who we are as people.

As Bornstein wrote in her 1995 work: "There’s a simple way to look at gender: Once upon a time, someone drew a line in the sand of culture and proclaimed with great self-importance, 'On this side, you are a man; on the other side, you are a woman.' It’s time for the winds of change to blow that line away. Simple."

Regarding the current LGBT movement, Bornstein said powerfully: “We are here because what we want, who we love and how we feel has an effect on the amount of power we have in the world. We've come together in the name of desire.” These words have empowered countless activists who have been challenged to reconsider their vocabulary, privilege and identity.

Bornstein's interactive performance piece, described as "Postmodern Gender 101 with a comic twist," will be highlighted Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the Northwestern campus' McCormick Tribune Center, 1870 Campus Drive, in Evanston. Admission is free.