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Transgender Warriors


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About the Author

Leslie Feinberg has been a grassroots activist, journalist, and lecturer on behalf of the lesbian/gay/bi and transgender movements. S/he is the author of the acclaimed novel Stone Butch Blues.


Activist Feinberg (Stone Butch Blues, Firebrand, 1993) here presents a sweeping history that many others have glossed over or denied: she traces transgender lives, identities, and expression from communal societies to the present day. Furthermore, she provides theoretical insight while always remaining accessible to the general reader. Feinberg argues that the current devaluation and oppression of trans peoples is inextricably linked to the emergence of hierarchical class-based societal forms and to shifts from matrilineal to patriarchal social organization. Her book really comes alive, however, through her infusion of personal narrative into the historical material‘the book ultimately is Feinberg's personal journey to find some representative place in a history that usually has denied or denigrated trans existence. Illustrated throughout, her book is finally a "portrait gallery" of photographs accompanied by statements from and biographies of people representing parts of the transgender spectrum. Appendixes include lists of organizations and publications. A valuable resource for researchers and an important personal and historical account of an underexamined social group, this is recommended for both public and academic libraries.‘Karl Bryant, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara

Feinberg, a surgically and hormonally transgendered female-to-male and the author of the novel Stone Butch Blues, here effectively pummels several old saws about gender, such as that there were two or three centuries in ancient Greece that constituted the golden age of gayness ("How happy were the gay slaves?" she asks). She also shows the often frantic and neurotic ways Western society clings to rigid notions of gender, while at the same time she describes (though not fully enough) how these notions shift radically from age to age. But her historical perspective can be sketchy. Feinberg, for example, expends little effort in looking into why a notorious band of male Welsh revolutionaries calling themselves Rebecca and Her Daughters dressed as women to destroy tollbooths in the mid-19th century. Though she draws many conclusions from this and other examples of cross-dressing rebellion through the ages, she fails to consider that the readiest disguise for a married man is his wife's clothing. The book does offer an enlightening album of singular people: a female transvestite who is sexually attracted to gay men; a couple consisting of a female cross-dresser and a male-cross-dresser. But Feinberg ultimately leaves too many gaps, both in history and in reasoning, to make her theories about gender expression and gender oppression solid. Author tour. (May) FYI: Filming of Stone Butch Blues, which won both the ALA Award for Gay and Lesbian Literature and the Lambda Literary Award in 1993, is to begin this spring.

Men and women have had their histories. This is the history book for the rest of us.--Kate Bornstein, author of Gender Outlaw

"[Transgender Warriors] leaves us with a sense that a transgendered concept of what it is to be fully human and psychologically whole is both valid and nothing new. A brief review cannot do justice to this amazing resource, not only for our communities, but for the world."--Patricia Roth Schwartz, Lambda Book Report "[Transgender Warriors] does far more than document the history of transgenders. It delves into the transgender experience, inviting the reader to consider a spectrum of gender possibilities." --Linda Gebroe, San Francisco Chronicle Book Review "No book since Toni Morrison's Beloved gives so much and holds itself so well. History becomes art, the political becomes transformative, the personal becomes universal." --Craig Hickman, Gay Community News "The challenge Feinberg sets forth-a complex, multisided one-is to take up the banner of feminism and extend it, stretch it, until it has room for all women."--Rosemarie C. Sultan, Sojourner "A ground-breaking gift to both the transgender community and the world at large."--Rachel Reed, Synapse "A well-written, well-researched compendium of transgender history."--Harriet L. Schwartz, Philadelphia Gay News "Nobody will remain unaffected by this book." --Heather Findlay, Girlfriends

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