LGBT History Month profile: Transgender author Patrick Califia


Equality Forum

Patrick Califia, Author
b. March 8, 1954

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

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.


© Mark Chester
Patrick Califia

Califia was born female and 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 co-founded 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.

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