"Baby, I’m an activist in the shower!" famed Texan author Pat Califia-Rice told me some 12 years ago, before she transitioned from a lesbian woman into a bisexual trans man.
Pat is now Patrick Califia, and the former Advocate magazine sex columnist, marriage therapist, sex radical and queer icon has as loud a mouth as ever. "Nobody should be a man – the world won’t be okay until men stop existing," the FTM (female-to-male) Califia told me before his recent McGill University lecture. "It was actually pretty hard for me to transition on days when I felt like I was going to join the people who spit on the sidewalk and look up women’s skirts every chance they get. But one of the exciting things about being an FTM is the possibility of creating new forms of masculinity and addressing our society’s mistreatment of little boys and its crazy expectations of men."
Adds Califia, "Male privilege is an unwelcome artifact of transitioning."
You’d think the gay community would be more disposed to supporting trans civil rights than straight people, because we’re both battling the heterosexual establishment. But Califia was outraged when much of the U.S. gay community didn’t want trans rights included in America's ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) bill.
"I felt betrayed," Califia says. "I felt belittled. I ought to expect it, though. Every minority group that wins a little bit of power uses that power to step on somebody else. I’ve never seen this pattern change. Human beings continue to be prejudiced and afraid of the ‘Other,’ even if they are an ‘Other’ to somebody else. Being gay is no guarantee that you’ve got good politics about anything other than your own narrow set of issues."
Which is why the trans community has organized a Trans Pride day in Montreal on May 7. There will be an all-day conference at the Comité social Centre-Sud (1710 rue Beaudry) in the Gay Village. The opening "Politique" lecture will be followed by such workshops as "Parents, Children and transsexuality," "Trans Youth in our Schools" with renowned Université du Québec à Montreal (UQAM) sexology lecturer Line Chamberland, "Couples in Transition," and a lecture on available trans-health services at the new $1.4-billion McGill University Health Complex super-hospital now being built behind Montreal's Vendome metro station.
Conference lectures and workshops are in French but simultaneous English translation will be available.
The conference will be followed by a Trans Pride Gala being held at Montreal's venerable Cafe Cleopatra, built in 1897 and the last-standing relic of Montreal's famed sin-city red-light district on The Main (the gala will be held in the upstairs vaudeville-era nightclub, above the downstairs strip joint). Headliners are Montreal's wildly entertaining drag-king troop The Dukes of Drag (they do a mean cover of anything by Tom Jones!). Tickets are $10. Doors open at 8:30 pm, and showtime is 9:30 pm.
Also, the film Beautiful Darling, a documentary about Candy Darling, the transsexual "superstar" of Andy Warhol’s Factory who, among other things, inspired the lyrics to Lou Reed’s song Walk on the Wild Side, screens at Montreal's repertory Cinema du Parc beginning May 27. In its review of the doc, the Boston Globe gushes, "Beautiful Darling is an impressive chronicle of a life inextricably bound to an era." Surf to www.cinemaduparc.com.