Riki Wilchins (born 1952) is an activist whose work has focused on issues of gender as it impacts many Americans: straight and gay; male, female and transgender; white and of-color; youth and elder. Her work on combating discrimination and violence caused by gender stereotypes has provoked criticism by some in the transgender community, but has been widely accepted by others. She has often focused on youth, who she says "see with fresher eyes" In 2001, Wilchins was named by TIME Magazine one of "100 Civic Innovators for the 21st Century." At Camp Trans, Riki Wilchins had a workshop where she would strip naked and show her surgically constructed vagina to anyone who wanted to see it. Since the mid-1990s, Wilchins has been highly active in founding a number of organizations and events focused on gender issues, including:
- The Transsexual Menace, the first large direct- action group for transgender rights, which was modeled along the lines of Queer Nation and which at one point boasted representatives in 40+ cities (co-founder Denise Norris).
- NYC Gay Community Center Gender Identity Project (co-founder Dr. Barbara Warren, Dir. of Social Services).
- NYC Gay Community Center Transgender Health Empowerment Conference, an annual event (co-founder Dr. Barbara Warren, Dir. of Social Services).
- Camp Trans, an annual educational event outside the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival that contests the exclusion of anyone who is not deemed a "womyn-born womyn" (co-founders Janice Walworth, Nancy Jean Burkholder).
- National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (co-founder Susan Wright, its first Exec. Dir.)
- National Gender Lobby Day, an annual event on Capitol Hill (co-founder Phyllis Frye).
In 1995 Wilchins founded the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition GenderPAC, a tax-exempt human rights organization focused on issues of gender. Wilchins currently serves as executive director. GenderPAC describes its mission as the creation of "classrooms, communities, and workplaces [that] are safe for everyone to learn, grow, and succeed - whether or not they meet expectations for masculinity and femininity." In late 1999, the organization was incorporated and received tax-exempt status.
Wilchins' writing has appeared in The Meaning of Difference, Feminist Frontiers, Language Awareness, Pomosexuals, Women on Women III, Out at Work, as well as periodicals The Village Voice, Social Text, The Advocate, and Girlfriends.
Wilchins received her bachelors degree from Cleveland State University in 1982 and her masters in Clinical Psychology from the New School for Social Research in 1983. She then founded Data Tree Inc., a computer consulting company specializing in banking and brokerage on Wall Street. Wilchins is an out transsexual lesbian feminist. In her book 'Read My Lips', Wilchins candidly admitted to being depressed and ashamed about her clitoris, while also speaking of intense physical pleasure.
- Read My Lips: Sexual Subversion & the End of Gender (Firebrand), 1997 ISBN 1-56341-090-7
- GenderQueer: Voices from Beyond the Sexual Binary (Alyson), (Joan Nestle, Clair Howell Co-Editors) 2002 ISBN 1-55583-730-1
- Queer Theory/Gender Theory: an Instant Primer (Alyson), 2004 ISBN 1-55583-798-0