1949 - 2014

Leslie Feinberg was born Sept. 1, 1949, in Kansas City, MO. and raised in Buffalo, NY. Mercilessly abused and discriminated against for being gender variant and non-conforming, she quit high school at 14 and shortly thereafter became estranged from her family. Eventually Feinberg embarked on a new life where she discovered Buffalo’s gay bars and factories. Discrimination against transgender people made it impossible for her to get steady work aside from a series of low-wage temp jobs. While in her early 20s Feinberg became a member of the Workers World Party and later worked as an editor and columnist for the communist organization’s newspaper. She was widely considered the first theorist to advance a Marxist concept of transgender liberation. After moving to New York City, she became active in many anti-war, anti-racist, and pro-labor campaigns; dedicated to confronting oppression of any sort. In 1993 she released the novel Stone Butch Blues which prompted discussion about the complexity and fluidity of gender. That book won the Lambda Literary Award and the American Library Association Gay & Lesbian Award. In addition to a second novel, Drag King Dreams, Feinberg’s work included the non-fiction books, Transgender Warriors: Making History and Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue as well as two collections of articles. Feinberg described herself as an “anti-racist white, working-class, secular Jewish, transgender, lesbian, female revolutionary communist.” Though she preferred to use the pronouns zie (she) and hir (her) for herself, she added, “I care which pronoun is used, but people have been disrespectful to me with the right pronoun and respectful with the wrong one. It matters whether someone is using the pronoun as a bigot, or if they are trying to demonstrate respect.” Later in life, Feinberg moved to Syracuse, where she lived with her partner of 22 years – activist/poet Minnie Bruce Pratt – whom she married in 2011. Leslie Feinberg died on November 15, 2014 at the age of 65 due to complications from multiple tick-borne diseases. Her last words were: “Remember me as a revolutionary communist.”

Demography

Gender Female

Sexual Orientation Lesbian

Gender Identity Transgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White Jewish

Faith Construct Judaic

Nations Affiliated United States

Era/Epoch Information Age (1970-present)

Field(s) of Contribution

Author

Journalism

Social Justice

Commemorations & Honors

Lambda Literary Award for Stone Butch Blues (1994)

American Library Association Stonewall Book Award for Stone Butch Blues (1994)

Starr King School for the Ministry Honorary Doctorate (2007)

National LGBTQ Wall of Honor at the Stonewall National Monument Inductee (2019)

Authorship

Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Victor Salvo
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell