Stone Butch Blues
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (January 2014)|
Front cover of 2004 Alyson Books paperback edition
|Media type||Print (hardcover and paperback)|
|LC Class||PS3556.E427 S7 1993|
Stone Butch Blues is a novel written by transgender activist Leslie Feinberg. From her earliest memories, Jess Goldberg knew she was painfully different from other girls. She hates wearing dresses. She is happy wearing her Roy Rogers outfit, even in temple. She feels the curious and angry stares as she passes by—the question, "Is that a boy or a girl?" follows her around like a moth follows a light.
The contempt of her parents and the hatred of most of her classmates become so oppressive that she runs away from home and school shortly before her sixteenth birthday. She finds a new family in the coworkers in the factories where she works and the butches and femmes (lesbians who behave in traditionally feminine ways) who frequent the gay bars of Buffalo, New York.
Trying to find a place in the world—working, falling in love, making decisions that will mark one for years to come—is difficult enough as it is. But when one's very existence is against the law—homosexuality in and of itself was illegal in nearly every state in the 1960s and it was still considered a mental disorder—a solid sense of self is hard to find. Jess hides underneath a "stone butch" persona, which does not really protect her from trauma and often distances her from intimacy.
Jess learns that she can take male hormones and "pass" as a man. She feels this is the only way she will stop being targeted as an outsider. But "becoming" a man alienates her from the lesbian community and forces her to live a lie in front of everyone else. In the end, Jess sees that the only way out is—be yourself, then speak up for the rights and dignity that every human being deserves.
The novel was published by FireBrand Press in 1993. It was picked up by Alyson Books in 2003. In early 2013, Feinberg announced on her Tumblr page that the book would be permanently out of print, but made to order copies would be available by request on her website. Additionally, free PDFs of the text would be available in May 2013.