Meet LGBT History Month icon Patrick Califia

(Editor's note: October is LGBT History Month, celebrated annually to recognize the notable achievements of LGBT people throughout time. Each day this month, Equality Forum will feature one LGBT icon who has made notable contributions to society and SDGLN will publish the story here in the Causes section. View previous LGBT History Month icons HERE.)

Patrick Califia is a transgender author of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. His writings explore sexuality and gender identity, and have included lesbian erotica and works about BDSM subculture.

Califia was born female on March 8, 1954, raised by Mormon parents in Corpus Christi, Texas. He started writing stories and poems in his youth. He graduated a year early from high school and matriculated to the University of Utah. While in college, Califia—who was still living as a woman—came out as a lesbian to his parents. They placed him in a mental institution.

In 1973, Califia moved to California and joined the women’s liberation and anti-war movements. He joined the lesbian separatist movement, but was rejected for his interest in S&M. In 1978, Califia cofounded a lesbian S&M group.

In 1980, his book “Sapphistry: The Book of Lesbian Sexuality” was published. He wrote many works on gender theory, erotica and LGBT issues. He received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in counseling from San Francisco State University.

Califia received Lambda Literary Awards for his short story collection, “Macho Sluts” (1988), his novel “Doc and Fluff: The Dystopian Tale of a Girl and Her Biker” (1990) and his columns published in The Advocate Adviser (1991). In 1997, he wrote “Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism,” chronicling gender nonconforming identities through historical and social perspectives.

In 1999, Califia transitioned from female to male, noting that “neither one is really a very good fit for me.”

Califia has published over 20 books. He is a marriage and family therapist practicing in California.

Notable quote

“By coming out to ourselves, we free up the energy we spent keeping a part of ourselves hidden.”


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