Leslie Feinberg is author of Transgender Warriors and the underground classic Stone Butch Blues. One of Curve magazine's fifteen most influential in the battle for gay and lesbian rights, s/he is also winner of the ALA Gay and Lesbian Literature Award, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Firecracker Alternative Book Award for nonfiction.
This collection of occasionally repetitious talks that Feinberg gave in the spring of 1997 is balanced by the inclusion of interviews with other "transgender warriors." Feinberg (Stone Butch Blues; Transgender Warriors) continues here her explication of prevalent gender "dogma"‘of "what it means to be a `real' woman or a `real' man"‘and assesses medical professionals' treatment of society's "Others." The latter category includes women like herself, and men in the process of evolving alternative gender identities and who thus present a "social contradiction": "I've lived parts of my life as a straight woman, as a butch dyke, as a man‘both straight and faggot," says one. Capsule portraits include Latino "lesbian" Michael Hernandez, Stonewall veteran Sylvia Rivera and Craig Hickman, who invokes RuPaul's dictum that "gender is performance." Feinberg highlights outdated legal statutes prohibiting cross-dressing, and the social and economic consequences of their implementation. She also discusses "gender reassignment" surgery, which she says is standard practice in the U.S. for infants born with seemingly ambiguous genitalia, but which she sees as more of a service to worried parents than for the children. Above all, Feinberg seeks a reordering of society, with unity as the ultimate goal, and gives frequent examples of the commonalities that transcend race, social class, physical abilities and gender. The material here was meant to be delivered orally, giving the text an immediacy that makes the message all the more compelling, although readers familiar with Feinberg's earlier writings will find it somewhat repetitive. (Oct.)
Choosing which public bathroom to useÄmen's or women'sÄseems a simple thing most of us do everyday without thinking. That decision raises complex issues, however, for a diverse and growing group of people. "Transgender is the term that has come to refer to all those who blur or bridge the boundary of gender expression they were assigned at birth: cross-dressers, transsexuals, intersex people, Two Spirits, masculine females, feminine males, drag kings, and drag queens." Feinberg (Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to RuPaul, LJ 7/96) identifies as a "masculine, lesbian, female-to-male cross-dresser and transgenderist." During the spring of 1997, Feinberg spoke around the country to such groups as the Texas "T" (Transgender) Party in Richardson, TX, where she addressed 350 heterosexual cross-dressed men and their spouses. She stresses the need for coalitions in the trans-liberation movement. Interspersed among adaptations of those powerful talks are short self-portraits of a wide variety of transgender activists. Taste This was formed in 1995 by a group of four writers and performers (Anna Camilleri, Ivan Elizabeth Coyote, Zoe Eakle, and Lyndell Montgomery), who alone or in various combinations tell stories, play music, sing, and "sort of" dance. Their first book is based on material originally written for performance, here transformed into evocative narrative fiction. In her brief foreword, Kate Bornstein refers to these stories as scary and forbidden, told with "great dignity, great gentleness, grace, and gallantry." The handsomely designed volume is illustrated with 75 images of the group on the road and at home. Both titles raise consciousness about different ways of being in the world, and each speaks eloquently to the need for civil rights for all of us.ÄJim Van Buskirk, San Francisco P.L.
Sometimes an author gives us a work so valuable, it becomes a debt we can repay only with our life's work. Feinberg's new book may be just that kind.--Athena Douris, Girlfriends
"Part poet, part cartographer, and part grassroots organizer, Feinberg escorts us lovingly through the transgender nation. . . . Trans Liberation brings together a diversity of agendas, giving a fresh, urgent twist to everything from the politics of national health-care reform to debates about infant genital mutilation and queer history."--Rachel Mattson, Village Voice Literary Supplement
"Feinberg is utterly rousing." --David Bahr, The Advocate