“The ethical reason for doing the film. If I was a star I could bring about world peace. The more I get to be known and the bigger platform I have the more people I can reach with what I can believe is a good message… The personal little kid reason I’ve always wanted to be a star just like I’ve always wanted to be a girl” – Kate Bornstein
I have a confession to make. Until last summer I wasn’t aware of Kate Bornstein apart from the odd bit of press and occasional articles about her. I knew the name but I didn’t really know much about the woman that many dearly refer to as ‘Auntie Kate’
Then one night at a film festival I was lucky enough to catch Sam Feders ‘Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger’. This film blew me away. Whilst touching on some of her work, it’s more of a very intimate and deeply personal look at the woman who describes herself as Transgender-dyke, Reluctant-Polyamorist,Sadomasochist, Recovering-Scientologist and Pioneering Gender Outlaw.
There is playfulness to the film and Kate herself, which no matter what your views on her work instantly captures you from the opening scene right to the end- but be prepared to go on a rollercoaster of emotions. From her side splitting public speaking to her own personal demons and battles with cancer, the films feels less like a documentary and more like a memoir. Kate faces life and its challenges in a playful way combining it with her wry sense of humour, optimism and a uniquely individual style that makes you feel like no matter what happens everything is going to be ok.
For me the film challenged my own preconceptions around language and gender. Kate is not afraid to hold back on her personal views on subjects and language that many transgender people feel uncomfortable with. Do you live in a binary, outside it or are you something else altogether? It’s ok because as Kate says, you can live your life as you see fit be it LGBTQ+ or otherwise but just remember, no matter what, ‘don’t be mean’.
It’s such a simple and inspiring concept that as lesson it transcends more than just queer theory but is something that we can apply to our everyday lives.
I’m really looking forward to seeing this film screened again, as for me it’s one of those films that once you have seen it you want to revisit time and time again and if that’s not convinced you here’s the trailer to whet your appetite!
By Kate Adair