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.