Kate Bornstein's Amazing Voyage

America's gender outlaw takes us on a wild tour of trans-formation

"My publisher is aligned with the Universalist Unitarian Church," she says. "If Scientology comes after me, they'll have to go up against the UUs."

The title of her book is the same as her last performance piece, which she put on at Brown University to sold-out audiences.

"At every performance, I'd look into the audience for a girl—is that you, honey?" But her Scientologist daughter never did show up.

Photographs by Santiago Felipe; Makeup artist: Shain Kish; Stylist: Leo GuGu; Clothing and accessories: Patricia Field NYC
Photographs by Santiago Felipe; Makeup artist: Shain Kish; Stylist: Leo GuGu; Clothing and accessories: Patricia Field NYC

Carrellas says the show drained Kate so much that it made her ill. "It was driving the trauma into you," she says, and Kate nods. She had to stop performing and rest, and that's when she got more serious about social media and built a considerable Twitter following as she worked on her memoir.

Kate says some Scientology critics gave her a hard time for not being vocal enough about the church. "They wondered if I was a spy. That kind of anger scares me."

But doesn't she want to warn people about the abuses in Scientology?

"Yes, in the same way you do—with a smile and a giggle and a belly laugh," she says.

Kate believes that Scientology can only reform if it starts to talk more openly about itself. "Xenu—talk about it. Stop the fair game. Back off the disconnection," she says. "It's their insecurities that I wanted to highlight. I think it's mostly sad."

In the meantime, though, the church's policies keep her cut off from grandchildren she has never known. When I asked her how that made her feel, she told me something I didn't expect.

"I have kids. Tony, I have kids all over the world who read Gender Outlaw and tell me I saved their lives. You think Jerry Lewis has kids? I have kids."

tortega@villagevoice.com

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