People often ask me what Patrick is working on and why for years they haven’t seen any new books on the shelves with his name on the cover. I usually give vague answers to these questions. I am not quick to admit the reality of our day-to-day lives. But it is time to be honest and to ask for help.
As you may know, Patrick has lived with chronic pain for much of his life. However, in recent years, this has greatly worsened and his ability to function has deteriorated. He is in constant pain and we are unable to afford any medical treatments that could help alleviate this. He is on disability, but thanks to our governor’s general lack of compassion for the disabled in Florida, his healthcare coverage is extremely limited. Sadly, we have often ended up being forced to go to the ER for pain management, and are now drowning in medical bills.
The good news is that there are procedures that will help him a lot with his pain. For instance, he has had great success with a spinal nerve block in the past. But, we must pay quite a lot out-of-pocket for these procedures. At about $400 per treatment, Patrick has been unable to afford this procedure in the past year. His hands often hurt him too much for him to be able to type, and chronic pain causes problems concentration, making it hard to focus on a project from beginning to end.
It is extremely hard for transmen to receive quality healthcare, regarding anything gynecological, even when finances are not an issue. Patrick has given me permission to speak honestly about this, because we are desperate, and because we both know it is important to name the issues our community faces. Patrick has needed a hysterectomy for years and is now at a point where uterine fibroids cause him intense daily pain. But trying to find a surgeon in Florida who will give him respectful care is a problem. We are now looking at going out-of-state for treatment. Again, it is only money that stops us from getting Patrick the care he needs.
On top of this, like many people who grew up in extreme poverty, Patrick lacked basic dental care as a kid, which has now caught up to him. His teeth are a mess and even with a supplementary dental plan we purchased, he is facing over $10,000 of emergency dental work. His eyesight has never been good, and he is now at the point where he needs cataract surgery, which Medicare will not pay for because he is under 65. This means he risks losing his independence since he will soon no longer be able to drive, much less use the computer.
I know this all sounds terribly depressing. But Patrick remains in good spirits, for the most part. He loves his work and wants to get his pain under control and get back to providing the queer world with the one-handed reading that enriches our lives so much. He is also working on a research project on FTM sexuality and intimate relationships which he hopes to publish, and he is also working on a sci-fi/fantasy novel. His biggest project is a memoir entitled Pioneer that deals with the issue of how he survived as a differently-gendered child and teenager in a violent, fundamentalist family and community. In a more personal way, it confronts the same issues of social control over sexuality and the way this generates the formation of rebellious, alternative identities and subcultures that he has written essays about for decades.
If you would like to see Patrick return to writing the critical, dirty, entertaining work you love, please considering helping us. I know our community isn’t generally wealthy, but a number of people helping a little bit, would add up to enough.
Who is Patrick Califia?
Patrick Califia was one of the people who organized the modern leather community. Prior to his gender transition in his 40s, he was one of the founders of Samois, the first women’s BDSM support group, and one of the most articulate voices helping to create what would eventually be known as pro-sex feminism. For decades, he (then known as Pat Califia, living as a leatherdyke) traveled all over the United States and Europe, doing education on safe BDSM technique, helping with grassroots community organizing, educating people about safer sex and HIV prevention, and speaking out on a variety of topics like anti-censorship work, the need to shut down the war on drugs and make addiction treatment available, and opposition to state attempts to close down bathhouses and adult bookstores. Patrick also ran workshops and taught hundreds of people how to safely handle kinky equipment, negotiate a scene, keep their relationships running, and make their erotic dreams come true, if only for an evening.
Patrick has published more than twenty collections of short stories, novels, and essays that always provoke as well as titillate. Even when writing sexually explicit fiction, he has crossed boundaries by including material about characters of many different genders or sexual orientations and asked his readers to transgress, if only in their minds, and cross the boundaries they usually draw for themselves.
Patrick also managed, in between making a living as a freelance writer and editor, to get an education, earning a BA in psychology, and an MA in counseling. He was licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist in California and for more than ten years had a private practice in San Francisco, working primarily with sexual minority clients. He often saw people in our community that had been turned away from other offices. Nobody’s sliding scale fees went lower than Patrick’s, because he believed that therapy worked, and it should be available to anybody who needed or wanted it. Nothing could ever replace or equal the value of the time that he spent with clients. Being able to sit with people and witness their process of personal growth, confrontation, frustration, and breakthrough has no equivalent. It is humbling and truly awe-inspiring. Closing the doors of his therapy practice when he could no longer keep it running was one of the saddest days of his life.
In 2011 Patrick and I moved to Florida, so we could be close to my family and I could pursue my work as a hospital chaplain. I am so grateful for his brilliance, his dedication to the queer and BDSM communities, and all the ways he lives into his calling as a radical, queer, pro-sex feminist, and transman. It is our ultimate hope that Patrick will be able to successfully manage his chronic pain and other medical issues and to reopen his therapy practice here in Tampa, where the queer community is desperate for his unique voice.