Patrick Califia (born Pat Califia; 1954, formerly also known by the last name Califia-Rice) is an American writer of non-fiction essays about sexuality and of erotic fiction and poetry. Califia is a bisexual trans man. Prior to transitioning, he identified as a lesbian and as such, wrote for many years a sex advice column for the gay men's leather magazine Drummer. His writings explore sexuality and gender identity, and have included lesbian erotica and works about BDSM subculture. Califia is a member of the third-wave feminism movement.
March 8, 1954
Corpus Christi, Texas, United States
|Alma mater||San Francisco State University|
Califia was born in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1954 and grew up in Utah in a Mormon family. His father was a construction worker and his mother was a housewife. Califia was the oldest of six children. Califia has said he did not have a good childhood, claimed that his father was an angry and violent man and his mother a pious woman.
Califia believed in the Mormon religion, and there were elements of Mormonism in his approach to life. One primary tenet of Mormonism Califia tended to follow was, "if the truth has been revealed to you and you don't speak out, you are culpable for any wrongs that are committed in those realms of life." Califia's sense of difference began when he was a child. He had dreams of becoming a train engineer which his parents shot down because he was born female. He started transitioning in 1999.
In the 1970s, Califia's parents had him admitted to a psychiatric hospital, and he dropped out of college (the University of Utah in Salt Lake City) due to his mental state. Califia came out as a lesbian in 1971 while attending college. He began using the last name Califia, after the mythical female warrior Amazon. Califia began to evade his parents, and became involved in the women's liberation and anti-war movements. After getting involved in consciousness raising in the area, he moved to San Francisco in 1973, bringing an interest in sex education to work on the San Francisco Sex Information switchboard. After moving to San Francisco he began writing for a magazine and joined a lesbian separatist movement. In 1975 he spoke in favor of sadomasochism and found himself excluded from the lesbian feminist community. He was not only excluded from his nuclear family by coming out as a lesbian but also lost his gay family when speaking his opinions. Califia became increasingly involved in S/M activities not only with lesbians but also with gay men. He co-founded the first lesbian S/M group, Samois, in 1978.
Califia began attending the University of Utah in Salt Lake City in 1971. In 1981, he graduated from San Francisco State University (SFSU) with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. He has also said he has a master's degree.
In 1980, Califia published his first book—Sapphistry: The Book of Lesbian Sexuality, a non-fiction work for lesbians which described, in a non-judgmental tone, butch-femme sexuality, and BDSM safety and practice. Subsequently, he published work in lesbian, gay and feminist magazines, including a long-running sex advice column in The Advocate.
Califia is "one of earliest champions of lesbian sadomasochistic sex" whose "work has been taught on college campuses across the country and abroad." He has a long history of transgression, identifying as a feminist, lesbian, and transgender while also at times finding rejection from those communities "for various infractions." He played what some observers termed a "notable role" in the Feminist Sex Wars of the 1970s/1980s. The sides were characterized by anti-porn feminist and sex-positive feminist groups with disagreements regarding sexuality, pornography and other forms of sexual representation, prostitution, the role of trans women in the lesbian community, lesbian sexual practices, sadomasochism, and other sexual issues. Califia rejected the "essentialist, feminist ideology – that women are better, more nurturing, more peaceful, more loving, more relationship-oriented and less raunchy in bed," instead advocating for BDSM, "the consensual integration of power, pain, domination and submission into sex." According to the San Francisco Chronicle, many feminists were won over to Califia's views on S/M not from his arguments, but from his erotic fiction: "they read Califia-Rice's S/M fantasies, got turned on and got over it."
Califia co-founded Samois, a lesbian-feminist BDSM organization based in San Francisco that existed from 1978 to 1983, and shifted his focus to the lesbian experience of BDSM. The Samois Collective produced, with Califia's contributions, the book, Coming to Power, published by Alyson Publications. Coming To Power, according to editor in chief Heather Findlay of lesbian magazine Girlfriends, was "one of the most transformative lesbian books, [foretelling] the end of a certain puritanism that had dominated the community. It was the first articulate defense of lesbian S/M, and that was the end of it." Another book, the Lesbian S/M Safety Manual, won the 1990 Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year.
In 1992 Califia founded the leatherwomen's quarterly Venus Infers, and published "Feminism, Paedophilia, and Children's Rights" in Vol. 2, No. 4, a special women's issue, of the pro-pedophile scholarly journal Paidika. In 1996 he was co-editor, with Robin Sweeney, of The Second Coming: A Leatherdyke Reader, a sequel to Coming to Power. Califia was writing about queer studies and gender identity, and coming to terms with these issues on a personal level. At age 45, Califia transitioned, taking the name Patrick.
In a 2000 interview, Califia explained that the inspiration for his erotic writings varies; sometimes it is just about having fun, or it can be satire, or exploring a sexuality issue like HIV-positive people barebacking with the intention of infecting the other person with the virus. In the interview with Rona Marech, Califia is quoted as saying:
It's about me trying to put a human face on that and understand that from the inside out. ...It's about being thought-provoking, hopefully. And I like (presenting issues) that challenge the reader; that are maybe a little scary, maybe hard to think about. ...It's also a way to top a lot of people. In some ways, I get to do a scene with everyone who reads one [sic] my books.
Janet Hardy, of Greenery Press, admires Califia's tenacity, stating, "He's got a phenomenal mind. ...He's willing to get a hold of a thought and follow it through to the end, even if it doesn't feel comfortable."
Califia was nominated for the 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 a compilation of his columns, The Advocate Adviser (1991). He is working on a book that discusses the topic of FTM sexuality, and is working on a new set of essays surrounding the topic of BDSM. He has also written vampire books.
Califia presented a paper for the American Academy of Religion conference in Montréal, November 19–22, 2009, on the gay marriage debate, and how arguments about monogamy and S/M have been used to try and control the argument.
When Califia would travel to Canada, his pornographic works were often seized by Canadian customs, until he fought a court case to allow them to be accepted. Afterwards, he wrote of his amusement at finding that anti-porn feminist Catherine Itzin's book, Pornography: Women, Violence and Civil Liberties, was seized under the very law she had helped to establish, while Califia's books were recognized as acceptable by that law. Califia fought against anti-pornography legislation co-authored by Catharine MacKinnon.
In 2013, he was named by Equality Forum as one of their 31 Icons of the LGBT History Month.
From 2001 to 2011, Califia was licensed in California as a marriage and family therapist (MFT).
Califia has a son, Blake Califia-Rice (born October 1999), to whom his ex-partner, Matt Rice (now a trans man), gave birth.
Califia has said that since the 1990s, he has had fibromyalgia.
In 1999, Califia decided to begin hormone replacement therapy as a part of his transition. Califia had considered sex reassignment in his twenties, but had been hesitant, for one reason, because there were many dangers to the surgery at that time. He also hesitated because his career had been built around a reputation as a lesbian writer and activist. Califia had entered age-related perimenopause when he began his transition. He has stated that being a man or a woman was never a good fit for him but sex reassignment seemed to be the most reasonable option.
- Sapphistry: The Book of Lesbian Sexuality (1980) (ISBN 978-0-93-004414-5)
- Public Sex: The Culture of Radical Sex (1994) (ISBN 978-0-93-941689-9)
- Feminism and Sadomasochism, a chapter/article in Feminism and Sexuality: A Reader (1996)
(edited by Stevi Jackson and Sue Scott) (ISBN 978-0-23-110708-2)
- Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism (1997) (ISBN 978-1-57-344072-1)
- Speaking Sex to Power: The Politics of Queer Sex (2001) (ISBN 978-1-57-344132-2)
- Macho Sluts: Erotic Fiction (July 1994) (ISBN 978-1-55-583115-8)
- Doing It for Daddy: Short and Sexy Fiction about a Very Forbidden Fantasy (December 1994) (ISBN 978-1-55-583227-8)
- Doc and Fluff: The Dystopian Tale of a Girl and Her Biker (May 2000) (ISBN 978-1-55-583369-5)
- No Mercy: Short Stories (June 2000) (ISBN 978-1-55-583542-2)
- Melting Point (November 2000) (ISBN 978-1-55-583380-0)
- "Patrick Califia". nndb.com. Notable Names Database (NNDB).
- Marech, Rona (October 27, 2000). "Radical Transformation". San Francisco Chronicle.
- Alvear, Michael (February 19, 2003). "Gender-bending". Salon. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
- "Patrick Califia". lgbthistorymonth.com. LGBT History Month via Comcast. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
- Prono, Luca (2008). Encyclopedia of gay and lesbian popular culture. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 9780313335990. Preview.
- Decter, Ann (July 1, 1998). "Click: Becoming Feminist". Herizons. Manitoba, Canada. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
- "Patrick Califia". glbtq.com. Encyclopedia of GLBTQ Culture. Archived from the original on October 8, 2014. Retrieved November 14, 2014. Pdf version.
- Califia, Patrick (2009), "Introduction", in Califia, Patrick (ed.), Macho sluts, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: Arsenal Pulp Press, p. 35, ISBN 9781551523521. Details.
- Sides, Josh (2012), "When the streets went gay", in Sides, Josh (ed.), Erotic city: sexual revolutions and the making of modern San Francisco, New York Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 119, ISBN 9780199874064. Details.
- "Patrick Califia". Facebook. Retrieved October 10, 2013.
- Califia, Patrick (1997). Sex changes: the politics of transgenderism. San Francisco, California: Cleis Press. ISBN 9781573440721. Details.
- Califia, Patrick; Corinne, Tee (1983). Sapphistry: the book of lesbian sexuality (2nd ed.). Tallahassee, Florida: Naiad Press. ISBN 9780930044473. Details.
- Fitting, Peter (2000). "Violence and utopia: John Norman and Pat Califia". Utopian Studies. Penn State University Press. 11 (1): 91–108. JSTOR 25702459.
- Califia, Pat (1979). "Lesbian sexuality". Journal of Homosexuality. 4 (3): 255–266. doi:10.1300/J082v04n03_04. PMID 264129.
- Bronstein, Carolyn (2011), "Anti-pornography comes undone: the rise of the feminist pro-sex countermovement", in Bronstein, Carolyn (ed.), Battling pornography: the American feminist anti-pornography movement, 1976–1986, Cambridge New York: Cambridge University Press, p. 288, ISBN 9781107400399. Details.
- Hart, Lynda (1998), "Notes: Notes to chapter 5 – Bearing (to) Witness", in Hart, Lynda (ed.), Between the body and the flesh: performing sadomasochism, New York: Columbia University Press, p. 237, ISBN 9780231084031. Details.
- It is interesting to note that after I had written this chapter, Califia and Sweeney's sequel to Coming to Power was published, entitled The Second Coming. This title's reference to the earlier volume is obvious. But it also strikes me that the theological connotation it carries of a "resurrection" is a concept that is deeply inscribed in s/m practice. Such a "redemptive" grammar, which is pervasive in the literature, could be perceived as pastoralizing in tone, and indeed must be in part. But it also campy and ironic, parodic in one sense and, like all parody carrying with it a certain ambivalent reverence for the model that it both mocks and imitates.
- Burkardt, John (June 1, 2007). "The Oddest Book Titles". people.scs.fsu.edu. The Department of Scientific Computing, Florida State University. Archived from the original on August 10, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2008.
- Califia, Patrick (2006), "Manliness", in Stryker, Susan; Whittle, Stephen (eds.), The transgender studies reader, New York: Routledge, pp. 434–438, ISBN 9780415947091.
- Califia, Patrick (2004). Mortal companion. San Francisco: Suspect Thoughts Press. ISBN 9780739448236. Details.
- Kraemer, Christine (2013). Eros and touch from a pagan perspective: divided for love's sake. New York City: Routledge. ISBN 9780415820189.
- Cusac, Anne-Marie (October 1, 1996). "Profile of a sex radical". The Progressive. Retrieved May 10, 2012. (Subscription required.)
- "2013 Icons Announced: LGBT History Month 2013 Now Online". equalityforum.com. Equality Forum. 2013. Archived from the original on March 10, 2016. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
- "License verification of Pat Califia". Breeze.ca.gov. Archived from the original on May 26, 2015.
- Alvear, Michael (February 19, 2003). "Gender-bending". Salon. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
- Sensuous, Sadie (2003). It's not about the whip: my explorations into love, sex and spirituality in the BDSM scene. Victoria, British Columbia, Canada: Trafford. p. 157. ISBN 9781412001830. Details.