Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Queer and Pleasant Danger, Kate Bornstein

A Queer and Pleasant Danger, Kate Bornstein.  Boston: Beacon Press, 2012.  247 pps on an e-reader

I first encountered Kate Bornstein via one of her other books called Gender Outlaw.  I liked it a lot and was thus pleasantly surprised to find A Queer and Pleasant Danger.  This latest book is a treasure.  Kate addresses her life in Scientology's Sea Org as a male, her transgenderism, family relationships, her ongoing bout of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (C.L.L.) and her gender identity with equal aplomb.

Kate was born in a male body and Jewish.  Kate found her way through childhood and adolescence in Jersey haphazardly.  In Denver she encountered some young Scientologists who had a message and pizza.  Being trans, Kate was sold on the idea that she was a thetan assuming a human identity.  Since thetans were also purported to be genderless, that solved Kate's gender dilemma for a bit.  She hung out at the Scientology org in Denver, took a few courses there, and then converted, went off to Sea Org where she lived on the large Scientology cruise ship, got promoted a few times and got married.  Once her first wife Molly got pregnant, they were commissioned to start an org in New York City.  The hotel where they had their offices was a dive and people kept flying past their offices on the way down to death on the sidewalk below.  The baby came and life went on that way for a couple of years.  Kate's first wife was ordered to the West Coast when their baby girl was two years old.  When their baby was four, she boarded a plane to visit with her mum [Kate's first wife] and never returned.  Mexican divorce papers came shortly after that.

Kate and wife number two found each other as both continued to work for Scientology.  Through a series of promotions, Kate found herself traveling all over.  There was a problem at a Swiss bank.  Kate was then ordered to return stateside where she faced officers from Scientology's financial police org in Clearwater Florida.  After hours upon hours on the e-meter, she was informed that she could opt for three years of hard labor or leave Scientology.  She had a neck problem by then which was painful so she chose to leave.  She was excommunicated and packed out.  Kate gave her second wife the car-- she was now considered an S.P., or suppressive person-- and went back to her childhood home with her parents.

Kate's dad who was a medical doctor promptly began treating Kate's neck problem  Kate slept a lot and after a bit got up and began to do life again.  Several months later, Kate was offered the opportunity to return to Scientology in good standing.  She was told that the financial police org was corrupt and was now a goner.  She declined and got on with life.  Kate read some decent science fiction [that is to say not any sci fi by L. Ron Hubbard which some percentage of us sci fi freaks consider to be garbage or at least substandard], got into acting, went through gender reassignment, mourned her daughter who she is not allowed to speak to, became an activist, wrote books, fell in love a few times with various women, got in touch with the idea that she prefers to be the masochist in the S & M lifestyle.  Today she identifies as a tranny rather than as male or female.  This of course irks bunches of people such as some trangenderists as well as bunches of lesbians and Pope Benedict.  Kate has decided to her credit that she is NOT inherently dangerous.

sapphoq reviews says: Anyone who does not care for reading about happy transgenderist folks probably should skip this book.  Folks who enjoyed Kate Bornstein's other books and/or who are fans of Pat Califa [that's a big yes from me on both counts] will like this different and fascinating take on life as a Scientologist and life as an ex-Scientologist.  Highly recommended.

No comments: