Califia was born female, into a Mormon family. She came out as a lesbian in 1971 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and changed her name to Pat Califia, taking the surname Califia after the mythical Amazon. After getting involved in consciousness-raising work in the area she bought herself a one-way ticket to San Francisco in 1973, bringing an interest in sex education to work on the San Francisco Sex Information switchboard.
Her first book was Sapphistry, a non-fiction work that described butch-femme sexuality and BDSM safety and practice without being judgmental. Further work was published in lesbian, gay and feminist magazines. Research work she did while taking a degree in psychology at San Francisco State University was published in the Journal of Homosexuality in 1979.
With the founding of SAMOIS, Califia's interests moved into the lesbian experience of BDSM and contributions to the book Coming to Power. In 1996 Califia was co-editor (with Robin Sweeney) of the sequel The Second Coming: A Leatherdyke Reader.
During this period Califia was also writing on queer theory and gender identity, coming to terms with personal issues. It was at this time that Califia made the decision to transition to a male gender role. Califia undertook testosterone hormone therapy and changed his name to Patrick, and he and his partner at the time both hypenated their names to Califia-Rice and Rice-Califia respectively.
Since the 1990s, Califia has had fibromyalgia, which has reduced his ability to type or write. He is currently in private practice as a therapist (he is a licensed marriage therapist and family therapist in the state of California). He continues to publish his work and attend leather community events.
It is believed that he was the author whose works were most often seized by Canadian Customs until he fought a court case to allow them to be accepted.
- What Color is Your Handkerchief: A Lesbian S/M Sexuality Reader (ed), SAMOIS, 1979.
- Pat Califia: "A Personal View of the History of the Lesbian S/M Community and Movement in San Francisco", 1981. in: Coming to Power: Writings and Graphics on Lesbian S/M. Alyson Publications, Boston, 3rd ed Oktober 1987, ISBN 0-932870-28-7
- Sapphistry: The book of lesbian sexuality, Naiad Press, April 1988, ISBN 0-941483-24-X
- Lesbian Sadomasochism Safety Manual, Alyson Books, June 1988, ISBN 1-555833-01-2
- Advocate Adviser, Alyson Books, June 1991, ISBN 1-55583-169-9
- Forbidden Passages: Writings Banned in Canada, Cleis Press, November 1995, ISBN 1-57344-019-1
- Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism, Cleis Press, July 1997, ISBN 1-57344-072-8
- Sensuous Magic: A Guide for Adventurous Lovers, Masquerade Books, January 1998, ISBN 1-56333-610-3
- Bitch Goddess: The Spiritual Path of the Dominant Woman, Greenery Press, December 1998, ISBN 1-890159-04-2
- Public Sex: The Culture of Radical Sex , Cleis Press, June 2000, ISBN 1-57344-096-5
- Speaking Sex to Power: The Politics of Queer Sex, Cleis Press, November 2001, ISBN 1-57344-132-5
- Macho Sluts, Alyson Publications, November 1988, ISBN 1-55583-115-X
- Doing It for Daddy: Short Sexy Fiction About a Very Forbidden Fantasy, Alyson Publications, December 1994, ISBN 1-55583-227-X
- Doc and Fluff: The Dystopian Tale of a Girl and Her Biker, Alyson Publications, May 1996, ISBN 1-55583-369-1
- The Second Coming: A Leatherdyke Reader, Alyson Publications, July 1996, ISBN 1-55583-281-4
- Melting Point: A Collection of Erotic Short Stories, Alyson Publications, November 1996, ISBN 1-55583-380-2
- Diesel Fuel: Passionate Poetry, Masquerade Books, May 1997, ISBN 1-56333-535-2
- No Mercy, Alyson Publications, June 2000, ISBN 1-55583-542-2
- Mortal Companion, Suspect Thoughts Press, May 2004, ISBN 0-9710846-9-6
- Boy in the Middle: Erotic Fiction, Cleis Press, September 2005, ISBN 1-57344-218-6