Bornstein presents a new perspective on suffering

Caitie Williamson

Kate Borstein spoke at LU Wednesday (Ian Wallace)

Kate Bornstein, author, playwright
and performance artist,
spoke at Lawrence Wednesday,
Feb. 17. The event was co-sponsored
by Lawrence’s Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration campus suicide
prevention project and the gender
studies department.
Bornstein is a transsexual;
zie – a gender-neutral pronoun
used in conjunction with ‘hir’ –
was born a male and underwent
gender reassignment surgery. Hir
works have discussed the problems
associated with gender identity.
Bornstein’s recent book “Hello
Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to
Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and
Other Outlaws” focuses on suicide
prevention.
Hir talk on Wednesday was
a discussion of issues that cause
people to feel like outsiders, such
as race, religion and sexual orientation.
According to Lecturer of
Gender and Freshman Studies
Helen Boyd Kramer, Bornstein was
an excellent choice for a speaker
for the department.
“In addition to hir recent work
on suicide prevention, zie has been
writing and talking about gender
expression and sexual orientation
for a few decades,” Boyd Kramer
said.
Emily Bowles, visiting assistant
professor of English, agrees
with Boyd Kramer on the impact
Bornstein’s talk will have on the
campus community.
“Kate Bornstein’s talk and hir
work on gender activism should
also function as an example of
the complex ways in which gender
studies as a field draws on a set of
discourses and theories about gender,
the body and identity while
remaining focused on individuals
and their daily experiences,”
Bowles said.
According to Director of
Counseling Services and Adjunct
Associate Professor of Psychology
Kathleen Fuchs, “A primary goal
of the Lawrence Campus Suicide
Prevention Project is to promote a
sense of community and social connectedness
among all Lawrentians,
because social isolation is a known
risk factor for suicidal thoughts.
We are especially interested in
reaching out to those who might
feel like they are ‘outsiders’.”
“Kate Bornstein’s presentation
clearly addresses those issues
through a creative and supportive
venue,” said Fuchs. “We hope to
draw in people all across campus
so they will identify with the goal
of strengthening the caring nature
of our campus community and
enhancing effective ways for us to
respond to people who might be in
distress.”
Lawrence recently received a
$25,000 suicide prevention grant
from the J.J. Keller Foundation,
which will be used for resources
to raise awareness on campus of
mental health wellness.
“Hir talk should help draw
attention to alternatives for suffering,
exclusion, and suicidal tendencies,
among other major issues,”
Bowles added.

Kate Borstein spoke at LU Wednesday

Top