Transgender rights activist Kate Bornstein will present a free lecture tomorrow at 7 p.m. in I.V. Theater.
Bornstein will discuss gender identity, gender awareness and survival in a heteronormative world. The lecture will kick off “Together It Gets Better” — a weeklong series of events on campus that addresses the mental health and safety of the LGBTQ community.
She will also organize a workshop tomorrow at 3 p.m. in the Student Resource Building multipurpose room.
Bornstein — a playwright, author and performance artist — underwent sex reassignment surgery in the 1980s. She has written several books, including Gender Outlaw and Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide, on societal challenges facing the LGBTQ community.
Resource Center for Sexual & Gender Diversity program coordinator Cristina Madrigal said Bornstein’s recent work on bullying and suicide prevention is especially pertinent in light of the recent spike in reported homophobic harassment cases on college campuses nationwide.
“One in 12 transgendered persons are murdered, according to Kay Brown of the Harvey Milk Institute,” Madrigal said. “It is very important that students acknowledge and actively engage to change the reality — discrimination and daily intolerance — of LGBTQ students.”
Additionally, event coordinator Gabrielle Hucal, a fourth-year biopsychology major, said she hopes the lecture will inform students about the struggles of the LGBTQ community.
“It’s really about education,” Hucal said. “Kate’s really fun, really unique and dynamic. Everyone would benefit — no matter how they identify.”
UCSB graduate and feminist studies professor Noa Logan Klein requires one of Bornstein’s works as reading for ‘hir’ course feminist studies 186NK, which analyzes transgender and ‘genderqueer’ theories and experiences.
“Bornstein’s My Gender Workbook: How to Become a Real Man, a Real Woman, the Real You, or Something Else Entirely helps students to question gender at personal, interpersonal and institutional levels in order to grow personally, intellectually and politically,” Klein said. “It is the most important text in the class and I have also used it to teach a theory class on gender in the sociology department.”
According to Klein, Bornstein’s lecture will be especially informative for those with privileged positions in the gender hierarchy and people unaware that gender is a social construction.
“Folks should know that Bornstein has a great deal of empathy for the discomfort ze causes with hir gender provocation and that hir goal for gender-freedom and self-expression actually encompass the same people,” Klein said. “Just by getting up on a stage as an out transsexual and gender fluid person, Bornstein is giving students permission to stare, to experience what they see and feel when they look at hir and to question their own genders and sexualities. Hardly anyone gets enough encouragement to question these assumed social identities.”