Leslie Feinberg

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Leslie Feinberg
Feinberg in 1997, in a photograph by Ulrike Anhamm
Feinberg in 1997, in a photograph by Ulrike Anhamm
Born(1949-09-01)September 1, 1949
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
DiedNovember 15, 2014(2014-11-15) (aged 65)
Syracuse, New York, U.S.
OccupationAuthor, activist
SpouseMinnie Bruce Pratt

Leslie Feinberg (September 1, 1949 – November 15, 2014) was an American, butch lesbian and transgender activist, communist,[1] and author.[2][3][4][5] Feinberg authored Stone Butch Blues in 1993.[6][7][8] Her writing, notably Stone Butch Blues and her pioneering non-fiction book, 1996's Transgender Warriors, laid the groundwork for much of the terminology and awareness around gender studies and was instrumental in bringing these issues to a more mainstream audience.[3][4][9][10]


Feinberg's first novel, the 1993 Stone Butch Blues, won the Lambda Literary Award and the 1994 American Library Association Gay & Lesbian Book Award. While there are parallels to Feinberg's experiences as a working-class dyke, the work is not an autobiography.[6][7][8] Her second novel, Drag King Dreams, was released in 2006.[11]

Her nonfiction work included the books Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue in 1998 and Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman in 1996. In 2009 she released Rainbow Solidarity in Defense of Cuba - a compilation of 25 journalistic articles.

In Transgender Warriors, Feinberg defines "transgender" as a very broad umbrella, including all "people who cross the cultural boundaries of gender"[10]—including butch dykes, passing women (those who passed as men only in order to find work or survive during war), and drag queens.[9]

Feinberg was a member of the Workers World Party and a managing editor of Workers World newspaper.[12][13]

Feinberg's writings on LGBT history, "Lavender & Red", frequently appeared in the Workers World newspaper. Feinberg was awarded an honorary doctorate from Starr King School for the Ministry for transgender and social justice work.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Feinberg described herself as "an anti-racist white, working-class, secular Jewish, transgender, lesbian, female, revolutionary communist."[2][4][5] Feinberg stated in a 2006 interview that her preferred pronouns varied depending on context:

For me, pronouns are always placed within context. I am female-bodied, I am a butch lesbian, a transgender lesbian—referring to me as "she/her" is appropriate, particularly in a non-trans setting in which referring to me as "he" would appear to resolve the social contradiction between my birth sex and gender expression and render my transgender expression invisible. I like the gender neutral pronoun "ze/hir" because it makes it impossible to hold on to gender/sex/sexuality assumptions about a person you're about to meet or you've just met. And in an all trans setting, referring to me as "he/him" honors my gender expression in the same way that referring to my sister drag queens as "she/her" does.

— Leslie Feinberg, 2006[3][15]

Feinberg's widow, Minnie Bruce Pratt, wrote in her statement regarding Feinberg's death that Feinberg did not really care which pronouns a person used to address her: "She preferred to use the pronouns she/zie and her/hir for herself, but also said: 'I care which pronoun is used, but people have been respectful to me with the wrong pronoun and disrespectful with the right one. It matters whether someone is using the pronoun as a bigot, or if they are trying to demonstrate respect.'"[5] Feinberg's last words were reported to be, "Hasten the revolution! Remember me as a revolutionary communist."[2]

Pratt is a professor at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York.[16][17] Feinberg and Pratt married in New York and Massachusetts in 2011.[18] In the mid and late 1990s they attended Camp Trans together.

Feinberg died on November 15, 2014, of complications due to tick-borne infections, including chronic Lyme disease, which she suffered from since the 1970s.[2][19]

Books by Leslie Feinberg[edit]

  • Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come. World View Forum, 1992. ISBN 0-89567-105-0.
  • Stone Butch Blues. San Francisco: Firebrand Books, 1993. ISBN 1-55583-853-7.
  • Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman. Boston: Beacon Press, 1996. ISBN 0-8070-7941-3.
  • Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue. Beacon Press, 1999. ISBN 0-8070-7951-0
  • Drag King Dreams. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2006. ISBN 0-7867-1763-7.
  • Rainbow Solidarity in Defense of Cuba. New York: World View Forum, 2009. ISBN 0-89567-150-6.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Frey, Kate. "Leslie Feinberg: Transgender Warrior". Socialist Alternative. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d "Transgender Pioneer and Stone Butch Blues Author Leslie Feinberg Has Died". Advocate. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "Leslie Feinberg, Writer and Transgender Activist, Dies at 65". New York Times. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "Author and transgender activist Leslie Feinberg is dead at 65". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Pratt, Minnie Bruce (18 November 2014). "Leslie Feinberg – A communist who revolutionized transgender rights". Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  6. ^ a b Violence and the body: race, gender, and the state Arturo J. Aldama; Indiana University Press, 2003; ISBN 978-0-253-34171-6.
  7. ^ a b Omnigender: A trans-religious approach Virginia R. Mollenkott, Pilgrim Press, 2001; ISBN 978-0-8298-1422-4.
  8. ^ a b Gay & lesbian literature, Volume 2 Sharon Malinowski, Tom Pendergast, Sara Pendergast; St. James Press, 1998; ISBN 978-1-55862-350-7.
  9. ^ a b Feinberg, Leslie (1997) Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman Boston: Beacon Press, 1996. ISBN 0-8070-7941-3
  10. ^ a b Feinberg, Leslie (2009) "Transgender Warriors" summary at Feinberg's Official Website. Accessed 19 Oct 2015
  11. ^ Feinberg, Leslie (2006).Drag King Dreams. New York: Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0-7867-1763-7.
  12. ^ "Leslie Feinberg: New book, birthday celebrated", LeiLani Dowell, September 9, 2009.
  13. ^ "Leftist transgender activist defies university censorship", Larry Hales, LeiLani Dowell; Ft. Collins, Colo.; April 27, 2005.
  14. ^ "SKSM Honorary Degree Recipients". Starr King School for the Ministry. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  15. ^ Tyroler, Jamie (July 28, 2006). "Transmissions - Interview with Leslie Feinberg". Archived from the original on November 23, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
  16. ^ "Annual Philip J. Traci Memorial Reading Feb. 6". February 3, 2005. Archived from the original on September 29, 2011.
  17. ^ Winterton, Bradley (December 16, 2003). "A transgender warrior spreads the word to Taiwan". Taipei Times.
  18. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/17/leslie-feinberg-author-transgender-campaigner-dies-65
  19. ^ "Transgender Warrior". Leslie Feinberg Official Website. Retrieved December 13, 2010.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]