Kate Bornstein

American author, playwright, performance artist, and gender theorist

Katherine Vandam "Kate" Bornstein (born March 15, 1948) is an American author, playwright, performance artist, and gender theorist.

Kate Bornstein in 2010


  • If we don't show ourselves the same amount of compassion we show others, we'll eventually come to resent the compassion we have for others. I think there's little enough compassion in the world right now, so we need to grow our own to compensate for that.
    • My New Gender Workbook: A Step-by-step Guide to Achieving World Peace Through Gender Anarchy and Sex Positivity (2013), p. 6

Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us (1995)

  • I tell people that I’ve never been hurt by an honest question, and that’s true: it’s a cruel opinion that hurts, not a question.
    • p. 9
  • There are only people who are fluidly-gendered, and … the norm is that most of these people continually struggle to maintain the illusion that they are one gender or another.
    • p. 65
  • Standing with freaks never hurt anyone - it’s when we agree that we deserve the oppression and the ridicule that accompanies the freak’s position in the culture - that’s when the wound is mortal.
    • p. 81
  • They believe (foolishly I think) that the power they have and exert over others is a good thing and they want to hang on to it, they're terrified of losing this stuff. What I'm talking about is what's been called 'male privilege.'
    • p. 108
  • 'Male privilege' is assuming one has the right to occupy any space or person by whatever means, with or without permission. It's a sense of entitlement that's unique to those who have been raised male in most cultures - it's notably absent in most girls and women. Male privilege is not something that's given to men in this culture; it's something that men take. It's not that women don't have the ability to have and wield this privilege; some do. It's that in most cases, this privilege is withheld from them culturally and emotionally. Male privilege is woven into all levels of the culture, from unearned higher wages to more opportunities in the workplace, from higher quality, less expensive clothing to better bathroom facilities. Male privilege extends into sexual harassment, rape, and war. Combine male privilege with capitalism (which rewards greed and acquisition) and the mass media (which, owned by capitalists, highlights only the reward of acquisition and makes invisible its penalties), and you have a juggernaut that needs stopping by any means. Male privilege is not the exclusive province of men; there are some few women who have a degree of this horrifying personality trait. Male privilege is, in a word, violence.
    • p. 108
  • Any power-over position forwards a culture that oppresses the transgendered. We should look for positions that allow us to bring out the power we have within us, and to acknowledge the power of others.
  • “Gender is not sane. It's not sane to call a rainbow black and white.”[1]
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