Rest In Power: Leslie Feinberg

Let’s take a moment and say thanks to Leslie Feinberg, a self-described “anti-racist white, working-class, secular Jewish, transgender, lesbian, female, revolutionary communist” who died yesterday at the age of 65. (Editor’s note: because Feinberg preferred the pronouns hir/zie instead of her/she, that’s how we’re rolling.)

leslie feinberg

L to R: Leslie Feinberg and hir partner, Minnie Bruce Pratt. Photo courtesy of Lavender Review.

As a transgender woman, Feinberg faced endless discrimination and made a living stringing together temporary jobs; according to hir partner, Minnie Bruce Pratt, these stints included “working in a PVC pipe factory and a book bindery, cleaning out ship cargo holds and washing dishes, serving an ASL interpreter, and doing medical data inputting.” (Pratt’s obituary is far more poignant and does Feinberg more justice than I ever could; you should read it in its entirety here.) While Feinberg wrote on extensively on issues of gender and sexuality, zie is perhaps best known for hir novel Stone Butch Blues, which follows the life of a working class Jewish lesbian navigating gay subculture.

While Feinberg became a tireless advocate for the lesbian and trans communities, zie also fought for worker’s rights, Palestinian self-determination and reproductive freedom and took on the KKK’s racist politics. Even when complications due to Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses sapped hir health, zie maintained a powerful presence in the fight against all forms of oppression. Friends and family continue to post hir words and images on hir personal website. Many thanks to Leslie; hir personal efforts led to improvements in the lives of many. We’re honored to add hir to our Hall of Dames.

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