Leslie Feinburg and Feminism
Leslie Feinberg is an American author and speaker as well as a transgender activist for lesbianism. She was born on September 1st, 1949, in the city of Kansas, Missouri. Leslie has authored a lot of literary work on issues about gender. Her pieces of literary works include novels, journalistic articles and non-fiction books. Her debut in writing was realized through her first novel titled Stone Butch blues which is often regarded as a groundbreaking piece of literary work about gender. She has also written non-fiction works such as Transgender warriors: Making history from Joan of arc to Dennis Rodman, Transgender liberation: A movement whose time has come and Transliberation; Beyond pink or blue. Other works include the novel Drag king dreams and a collection of twenty five journal articles-Rainbow solidarity in defense of Cuba. She also was a member of Workers world party and an editor of the party’s newspaper. She has also partnered in her works with Minnie Pratt Bruce who is lesbian activist and poet. Minnie is also Feinberg’s wife whom they live with in New York. Feinberg has had poor health for about two years and this has greatly affected her writing. She thus, decided to take on photography as an alternate past time during her ailing times. She posts her photos that freely shared on the net for her funs.
Feinberg’s accomplishments with regard to Feminism and transgender issues
Feminism refers to movements in culture, economy and politics that are meant to establish legal protection and rights for women. Feminism further encompasses philosophies and sociological theories related gender differences amongst people (issues on transgender). The movement also campaigns for the interests and rights of women. Thus, feminism should be defined as the upholding of the importance of gender equality (Nancy, pp 4-5). This definition by Nancy invalidates the principle of gender hierarchy on grounds that it is a socially constructed ideology. Feminism transpired in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Feminism has manifested in a variety of disciplines including feminist literary criticism (such as Feinberg’s literary works), feminist history, feminist theology and feminist geography (Nancy, pp 4-5). There have been various historical feminists and Leslie Fienberg has been one of the phenomenal feminists who have expressed her ideas and challenges through literary work about issues of feminism. Her work mainly highlights feminism in the line of transgender challenges.
Leslie Feinberg has acted as a grass-root historian, political organizer and a writer of issues pertaining to feminism-more precisely on transgender issues. She has pioneered the transgender culture and activism. She has openly identified as being transgender a step that not all transgender inclined individuals would openly take in conservative societies; especially those outside America. She has also freely spoken about her experience in living a life that she declares to be out of the gender binary (male and female). In her activism for feminism she has expressed the necessity for languages to accept and use alternate pronouns that are specific to transgender individuals as a way of appreciating their status in society. These proposed, alternate pronouns include ‘sie’ or ‘ze’ instead of ‘she’ or ‘he’ and ‘hir’ as opposed to ‘his’ or ‘her’ (Theophano, n.pag). This is part of her struggles for liberation and open identification and appreciation of transgender individuals.
Through her fictional writing-in Stone Butch Blues (1993)-Feinberg wrote from a first-person point view to avoid encountering challenges of expressing the third person in the novels narration. The novel expresses aspects of her own life through the story of Jess Goldberg. The story highlight the struggles and challenges that Jess undergoes as ‘she-he’ grows up in the 1950’s when there was little known about transgender people. Through this fictional story based on the life of Jess, Feinberg tries to depict to the society the kind of challenges that people, and more so young people; encounter as they grow up with a gender identity confusion. The story shows how people of transgender orientation struggle with the issues of identity and acceptance in society. This is because they are unable to find acceptance in homes and society at large. The novel is a classic example of Feinberg’s own life in terms of the challenges she has had to undergo. The novel has won has won two awards (Lambda literary award and American library association award for lesbian and gay people literary work) as recognition of its work and content (Theophano, n.pag).
Feinberg has championed for the rights of people with transgender challenges through her public speeches about feminism and transgender issues. In this bid Feinberg has often spoken about serious disease that she survived in the early 1990’s. She narrowly escaped death due to discriminatory treatment that was as a result of her transgender status. Through the sharing of her example she has been able to illustrate how there needs to be an understanding of how to handle health problem cases that affect transgender people in the medical field.
Feinberg’s writings have also been documenting least known and ignored works and contributions made to history by different oppressed groups of people. Her non-fiction literary work also explores related non-transgender issues. These include relationships and parallels within women, colored people and queer rights movement. These issues are highlighted in her other works that include Transliberation: Beyond pink and blue, Fire cracker alternative book award winner for non-fiction literary work-Transgender warriors: Making history from Joan of arc to Rupaul.
In her effort to increase understanding on trans-health issues Feinberg is currently working on a novel and non-fiction book that features issues about trans-health in the medical field. These works are meant to increase awareness about the need for a better understanding of health issues that relate to the transgender. Additionally, Feinberg offers lectures in universities, pride marches colleges and at transgender events on issues about feminism and transgender.
Additionally, Feinberg founded GBLTQ coalition of people (Rainbow flags for mumia) which called for re-trial of Mumia-abu Jamal a political prisoner. The group also works with the International action center (IAC) in activities that call for an end to corporate greed, war and oppression. Feinberg also is a key leader in the Workers world party (an independent Marxist organization) where she doubles as an editor for their newspaper (Theophano, n.pag).
The role of Feinberg in the history of Feminism and transgender issues
Feinberg plays an important role in society because she portrays an open, frank and true transgender that is open-minded about transgender and feminism issues in society. Her openness is bound to assist other transgender and lesbian individuals to come out of the closet and openly champion for their rights, recognition and acceptance. This should do be a good example of how the stigma associated with being transgender, gay or lesbian can be overcome. In turn it will ensure that people with such orientation are officially recognized and served like any other American citizen without discrimination.
Apart from being a personal example to other transgender, gay or lesbian people; Feinberg’s literary work is bound to live a great, unforgettable, landmark impression upon people that read it. This is because it has exhaustively brought to light challenges both in the norms of society, medical practice and ethics as well as legislative issues about feminism and gender. Her efforts may also increase pro-feminism support because her lectures and literary work help in sensitizing the youth and society about issues on feminism and gender.
Feinberg’s literary work and speeches are reinforcing a message upon society that more needs to be done in recognizing the rights of transgender individuals as well as to treat them equitably in a non-discriminatory way. Her works also highlight all forms of oppression based on sexuality, gender, sex and other struggles against war and racism. Therefore, Leslie is not only viewed as a pioneer in championing for the rights of transgender individuals but also as an active advocate for peace and human rights observance (Pratt, n.pag).
Nancy, Cutt. The Grounding of Modern Feminism pp. 4–5. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987. Print.
Pratt, B. M. Pride in Unity Pride in Struggle: Transgender activist Leslie Feinberg tours Italy, 2009. Web. 8th June 2010.
Theophano, T. Leslie Feinberg. GLBTQ: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian and bisexual. Chicago, IL: GLBTQ Incorporation. 2006. Web. 8th June 2010. Retrieved from, www.glbtq.com/literature/feinberg_l.html.