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Remembering Leslie Feinberg

November 17, 2014

Leslie Feinberg advanced the Marxist theoretical concept of “transgender liberation,” and hir work had–and continues to have–a significant impact on popular culture, LGBTQ cultures, academic research, community organizing, and political organizing.

Leslie was the national leader of the Workers World Party, and managing editor of the Workers World newspaper.  Leslie was a trade unionist, socialist, feminist, anti-racist, internationalist, community organizer who worked for decades in intersectional community organizing across faultlines to unite people of different abilities, women, oppressed nationalities, and working class people.

“Gender is the poetry each of us makes

out of the language we are taught.”  

–Leslie Feinberg, in the book Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue

With regard to pronouns, according to The Advocate, Leslie Feinberg said: “I care which pronoun is used, but people have been disrespectful to me with the wrong pronoun and respectful with the right one. It matters whether someone is using the pronoun as a bigot, or if they are trying to demonstrate respect.”  In a statement at the end of hir life, Leslie said “never been in search of a common umbrella identity, or even an umbrella term, that brings together people of oppressed sexes, gender expressions, and sexualities” and added that ze believed in the right of self-determination of oppressed individuals, communities, groups, and nations.

Leslie Feinberg left this earth on November 15th, 2014. Ze leaves behind hir partner Minnie Bruce Pratt, a large chosen family, and a myriad of influential literature. While Leslie preferred to use the pronouns ze/hir for hirself, the obituary uses she/her pronouns and was composed by hir longterm partner, Minnie Bruce Pratt (with Feinberg’s assistance).

Literature by Leslie Feinberg available at the In Other Words lending library for short-term check-out includes:

  • “Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman”
    • “Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to RuPaul” is a non-fiction text.  This book is the first analysis of the historical roots of transgender oppression. Transgender Warriors won the 1996 Firecracker Alternative Book Award for Non-Fiction. In Spring 1996, Beacon released the paperback edition, newly subtitled: “Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman”.  The paperback edition is available for check-out at the In Other Words lending library.
  • “Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue”
    • This is a non-fiction text, which contains a compilation of speeches by Leslie Feinberg on the historical contexts of trans oppression(s).  The book includes written portraits by other trans activists, and questions why there is so much violence against trans people, who decides the ‘norms’ of gender expression, and why some people are punished for their identities and self-expression.
  • “Stone Butch Blues: A Novel”
    • This book won the American Library Association Award for Gay and Lesbian Literature, the Stonewall Book Award, and a LAMBDA Literary Award. The novel offers a look into butch and femme cultures in the late 1960s and provides a coming-of-age story about a Jewish working-class butch who runs from home as a teenager and becomes a part of queer subcultures.
  • “Drag King Dreams” 
    • “Drag King Dreams” is a novel about a butch lesbian bartender who overcomes a mid-life crisis in the midst of a hate crime tragedy suffered by a close friend.  The main character re-discovers their activist bone amidst a chosen family as they come together to stand up in the face of xenophobia.

Books

Thanks to the dedication of our volunteers, and the support of our donors, In Other Words Feminist Community Center is proud to cultivate a feminist bookstore and a free feminist lending library that is home to a variety of feminist texts, including many of those by Leslie Feinberg.

Come by during our open business hours and browse these literary resources to remember, engage, heal, learn, grow, enjoy, and cherish!

P.S. There are some Leslie Feinberg texts that are still on our Wish List! If you would like to help us expand our lending library, we are seeking donations of the following Leslie Feinberg texts:  Lavender & Red articles compilations, Defense of Cuba.  Email us at library[at]inotherwords[dot]org or drop off the texts at In Other Words any time during our open hours.  In Other Words is a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

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