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VIDEO: Kate Bornstein’s transgender summit talk will blow your mind

Words matter, so does love, gender theorist Kate Bornstein declares.
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    Kate Bornstein (R, on stage) holds court at Gender Odyssey 2015 in Seattle.


If you think you’re all good on transgender politics because you immediately agreed to call Caitlyn Jenner a she, and you think "tranny" is a forbidden curse word, self-described “queer and pleasant danger" Kate Bornstein wants to make things a little bit more difficult.

So fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

First off, the New York City author and gender theorist, like many in the transgender world, rejects the idea of hard and fast absolutes, especially when it comes to the community.

|<image-caption><p>One of Bornstein's books.</p></image-caption>|Kate Bornstein

The pioneering blogger tackled the raging debate over what’s right and wrong, and whether just “he” or “she” cuts it, at the Gender Odyssey 2015 conference in Seattle, where more than thousand converged last week.

RELATED: Tanya Walker on trans truths.

One of several of Bornstein’s books lays out one of the more difficult concepts for those outside, and even in the trans community.


The last 10 minutes of Kate Bornstein's keynote. Just watch it....

Posted by Cathy Renna on Saturday, August 22, 2015


It’s called “Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us.”

Bornstein, like many others who count themselves in the transgender movement, fall outside the gender binary.

RELATED:Caitlyn Jenner at the ESPYs.

Unlike Jenner, Bornstein, who wrote a book about being born a boy, identifies as neither he nor she.

HE OR SHE?

Bornstein, who is also a performance artist, framed the issue this way:

“Gender is relative to context and point of view,” the theorist said at last week’s conference.

“Gender is two and two only. There are males and there are females. It has been obvious since the beginning of time. It’s true. True. … Arguably.”

“Gender is a wild spectrum. Gender can be anything you want it to be and you change it anytime you want. True. Arguably.”

Bornstein used this yin-yang of theory on several subjects, drawing laughter while noting that “the nature of theory” could mean that everything she says “is a big fat lie.”

'TRANNY WARS’

It all falls under the “Bornstein Theory of Relativity,” the 67-year-old said.



The author’s thought-provoking keynote talk to a jam-packed auditorium was both an internal call for mutual respect and love and a larger call to arms against the twin epidemics of violence against trans women of colorand youth suicide.

The issue of the use of the word tranny was explored and the so-called “tranny wars,” which exploded into the mainstream media when drag performer RuPaul ferociously lashed out at critics as “fringe” for slamming the “Drag Race” host’s decades use of the word.

RELATED:Famous transgender celebrities.

Is the word a weapon and an insult or a hard-won identity that comes from love? “Arguably,” Bornstein said, both points of view are true.

THE VALUE OF 'WE'

The trick is to respect each other’s point of view —and it doesn’t mean that the folks in either camp have to like each other, the author continued.

The open secret of trans activists and organizers is that we spend as much time navigating horizontal harassment and internal politics as we do on our proper outward-facing efforts,” Jen Richards wrote last month in The Advocate.

Bornstein wants the trans community to get beyond the internecine conflicts and, choking up, read off the names of transgender murder victims.

A retweet Sunday by Bornstein ofTransDiva Chandiboiled it all down, saying that for the transgender community, in the face of so many challenges, “the value of saying ‘We'" is priceless.


John A. Oswald is editor-at-large at Metro and can be found on Twitter@nyc_oz.
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