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Califia, Patrick (b. 1954)  
 
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The Little Sister's case against the Canadian Customs service included a question of discrimination against gay men and lesbians since 40 percent of the material being seized was destined for that market.

Califia, whose collection of short stories, Melting Point (1993), was among the confiscated works, testified at the trial. With reference to the importance of the books to the glbtq community, she stated, "If you find no fiction that portrays people who have the kind of sexuality you would like to have, the kinds of feelings you have, you begin to think that you are crazy."

Sponsor Message.

In its decision--not rendered until January 1996--the court upheld the constitutionality of the law but ruled that it had been applied in an arbitrary manner that discriminated against Little Sister's as a gay and lesbian bookstore.

Califia's Writings

Califia's writings fall into three general categories: non-fiction works such as Sapphistry, fiction and poetry, and advice columns, including a long-running one in The Advocate that she began in 1981.

Califia has been nominated for Lambda Literary Awards for her short-story collection Macho Sluts (1988), her novel Doc and Fluff: The Dystopian Tale of a Girl and Her Biker (1990), and a compilation of her columns, The Advocate Adviser (1991).

Califia's writings have been controversial within the glbtq community, with some fearing that the graphic depictions of S/M are stigmatizing and others praising Califia for an open and positive attitude toward sexual diversity in all its forms. Ian Barnard commented in 1994 that "in feminist debates around pornography Califia has clearly positioned herself in opposition to those who would make binary and classist distinctions between 'erotica' and 'pornography' in order to validate the former category and denounce the latter."

Indeed, Califia has looked at sexual identities, practices, performance, and fantasies as a continuum rather than as sets of polar opposites, and has consistently both participated in and encouraged others to join the debate and exploration of the variety within that continuum with the objective of bringing all people to value themselves and others for who they are.

Bryn Austin suggested that "arguably the nadir of the reviews [of Califia's writings] has not been negativity but rather the disappointing mediocrity of the criticism," adding that critics rarely delve into the complexity of Califia's work or the challenging issues that underlie the writer's S/M tales.

Califia's advice columns, which have run in several glbtq publications, have won many fans. Califia, who earned a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1981 and later a master's degree in counseling from San Francisco State University, is now a licensed marriage and family therapist in California.

Califia, who described herself as "a sort of psychic hermaphrodite," authored Sex Changes: The Politics of in 1997. Starting from history, autobiographies, and interviews, she examined "the way differently-gendered people's perceptions of themselves and the perceptions of those outside the gender community have evolved, and some of the complex medical, sexual, political, and social issues these phenomena present." It was her hope "that someday gender will be a voluntary system for self-expression, used chiefly to enhance the pleasure we take in one another's unique realities."

Gender Reassignment

A new phase in Califia's life began in 1999 when she decided to initiate the process of becoming a female-to-male (FTM) transgendered person by having injections of testosterone. Since Califia was about to begin going through menopause at that time, her doctor had suggested a regimen of hormone replacement therapy, a frequently prescribed treatment. Califia vigorously rejected the idea of taking the female hormone estrogen, however, saying, "I could not put this chemical into my body on purpose."

She had considered gender reassignment while she was in her twenties but had been leery of the quality of the surgery available at the time. Thereafter, Califia stated, "the strategy that I employed to deal with my gender dysphoria was to be a different kind of woman." Regarding the stark categories of "man" and "woman" Califia concluded, "neither one is really a very good fit for me." Nevertheless, gender reassignment seemed the preferable option, and Califia proceeded with it, adopting the first name of Patrick for his new life as a man. He now identifies as bisexual.

Califia's partner at the time, Matt Rice, also in the process of becoming an FTM, had had to suspend testosterone therapy due to side effects and wished to become pregnant. Rice successfully conceived through artificial insemination. Although the parents are no longer together, Calfia remains devoted to his young son, who is autistic.

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