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EXCLUSIVE: Kate Bornstein : I am Jewish. I am Trans and Queer. I Love to Indulge My Inner Geek

Bornstein is an advocate for teens, freaks, and other outlaws.
By: SL Exclusive
Published: March 5th, 2012 in Culture » Society » Interviews
Kate Bornstein

Shalom Life is proud to present our first Jewish LGBTQ series. We asked 10 public figures (ranging from comedians and actors to children’s book authors and musicians) to complete the following sentence:

I am Jewish. I am Gay. I am _________________

In the blank space, each participant has placed a personality trait, hobby, profession, descriptive adjective, or an interesting tidbit of information that describes an element of their being. Additionally, they have personally written a paragraph explaining their choice and how that choice defines them.

Religion and sexuality are integral to our self-identification, but they define us just as much as our interests, personality, career choices, philanthropic work, and talents.

Enjoy our series and share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Day 4- Kate Bornstein

I am Jewish. I am Trans and Queer. I Love to Indulge My Inner Geek

I love to watch great SciFi. I grew up reading my big brother’s cast-off editions of Heinlein, Asimov, and Fredric Brown. I watched Star Trek on television the first night it aired in September, 1966. I was a boy then, a chubby young Mr. Spock attending my first year at an all-boys’ Methodist prep school. I was one of maybe 20 Jews in the 250 student population. They drove us to synagogue on Friday nights if we wanted to go. I mostly went to Catholic services though, because they had all the answers and Judaism has all the questions, and all the questions I was having to ask myself in 1966 about gender and sexuality—they all scared the hell out of me. The Catholics scared it right back into me with their brand of SciFi religion. I enjoy SciFi worlds that are more or less plausible—except something about it is amazing. Like here I am in the real world—I used to be a chubby little boy, and now I’m an attractive old lady. Amazing. It gives me a real tickle to be amazed, and I guess that’s why I’m a geek.

Jews have always tended to keep to ourselves. Israel would be the macro of that notion. But in my geekdom, I found other folks where being a Jew didn’t make me the freaky alien—Apple fanatics & Apple geeks. I’m both. I’ve been using Mac computers since 1988—it was the little beige box model with a 9” inch screen, 2 megabytes of RAM, and a whopping 40 MB hard drive. There were no Apple stores back then. You had to go to the one store in the city that sold Mac computers and stuff. That’s where you’d meet other geeks. Back then, most of the geeks were guys who were more or less asexual and women who were lesbians—I was the lone transsexual. We’d talk with each other about modifying our system files, and what cables could extend its functionalities. Being a Jew, and queer, I was all about asking questions.

Today, many but not all of my geek friends are trans in one way or another. Or they’re genderqueer—not boy, not girl, but somewhere alternately in the middle, or outside the binary altogether. And most all of us overlap the world of geeks on the common ground of constant questioning and constantly honing how we articulate our questions. As Jewish LGBTQ, etc, we question our genders and our sexualities—we never stop questioning and honing them. We’re always looking for that place of balance and peace—that place that God promised the Jews would live in one day. In SciFi, they find that place every now and then. I find that amazing.

Kate Bornstein is a performance artist, college & high school lecturer, and advocate for teens, freaks, and other outlaws. She has written several award-winning books in the field of Women and Gender Studies, including “Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and The Rest of Us,” and “My Gender Workbook.” Her 2006 book, “Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws” is an underground best seller. She has earned two citations of honor from the New York City Council and garnered praise from civil rights groups around the globe. May 1st sees the release from Beacon Press of her memoir, “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.”

For more info, go to http://katebornstein.typepad.com/

Related articles: LGBTQ, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Kate Bornstein, Teens, Outlaws, Freaks, Advocate, Teacher, Author, Suicide, Geek, Science Fiction, Sci Fi, Gender, Scientology
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