SGA, LGBTQ Services and the Multicultural Student Center hosted “An Evening with Kate Bornstein” last night in honor of LGBTQ History Month at UCF.
The event, one of several in October, marks the first year that the history month has been organized university-wide. It allowed students to join the acclaimed author in her discussion on gender expression, identity and sexual orientation.
The event was open to the public, and students and faculty alike met in the UCF Pegasus Ballroom as the speaker gave her presentation, titled “World Peace Through Gender Anarchy and Sex Positivity.”
“My students are counselors in training, and they are going to be exposed to very different world views throughout their careers,” said Dr. Sejal Barden, an Assistant Professor in the UCF Department of Educational and Human Sciences. “I thought Kate would be a great person for my class to see and learn from about the topics she’ll be addressing.”
Bornstein, author of Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and The Rest of Us, underwent a male-to-female sex change after being raised a Jewish male that identified herself more as female individual, though she did not fully identify as being female either. Bornstein now speaks at universities and workshops nationwide about why gender binary is incorrect, the belief that individuals must identify as either male or female.
“Kate’s theories are being taught in many gender studies and courses because she’s been so impactful in challenging people to think about gender in a way that’s not so black and white,” said David Moran, Graduate Coordinator for the UCF Student Outreach Services. “I think it’s important we bring philosophers to UCF test the way we approach life beyond, say, MTV. That stuff is fun too, but I think Kate can help UCF students think about who they really want to be.”
“I’ve been suicidal six times in my life, but this is what kept me alive,” said Bornstein in regards to her third book, 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws. “Viewing gender as an “either/or” approach is a magnet for bullying. Who says we have to be one of the two?”
Bornstein also spoke on topics including the keys to make life worth living, which she described as identity, desire and power, and the queer theory, the idea that a person can be more than one gender identity at the same time.
“For a long time, people like us have been left out,” said Bornstein. “If you would bring us into the coalition of margins, I promise we’d be the fun ones.”
“When I saw the email that UCF would be hosting a trans-gender author, I knew this would be an amazing learning opportunity,” said Stephanie Worley, 22, a UCF English Literature major. “I think every student should just grab a friend, get out of bed, and come to educational events like this at UCF. If you don’t like it, then leave. But Kate was delightful.”
For more information about the event, or for information about LGBTQ History Month at UCF, please visit ucf.edu/lgbtq.