Nationally acclaimed transgender activist and author Leslie Feinberg, whose 1993 novel “Stone Butch Blues” is considered a groundbreaking work on the issue of gender identity, died Nov. 15 at her home in Syracuse, N.Y. She was 65.
She had been suffering from complications associated with Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections since the early 1970s before being diagnosed with the infections in 2008, according to her partner and spouse of 22 years, Minnie Bruce Pratt.
A detailed biographical write-up on Feinberg’s life and career, prepared by Pratt and first published by the Advocate, says Feinberg self-identified as an “anti-racist white, transgender, lesbian, female, revolutionary communist.”
Pratt’s write-up says she was at Feinberg’s side when she passed away and that her last words were, “Remember me as a revolutionary communist.”
She became active with the Workers World Party in the 1970s, when she began writing for the party’s newspaper, Pratt said, noting that over the years Feinberg advocated in her columns for LGBT rights and wrote on what she believed to be “links between socialism and LGBT history.”
She served as editor of the Workers World Party newspaper’s Political Prisoner page for 15 years before becoming the paper’s managing editor in 1995, Pratt said in her write-up.
In addition to Stone Butch Blues, which has been translated into at least seven languages, including Chinese and Slovenian, Feinberg is author of several non-fiction works. Among them are “Lavender & Red,” “Rainbow Solidarity in Defense of Cuba,” “Transgender Warriors: Making History,” and “Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue.” Her second novel is titled, “Drag King Dreams.”
Feinberg was born in Kansas City, Mo., and raised in Buffalo, N.Y., in a working-class Jewish family, Pratt says in her write-up. At the age of 14 she began patronizing Buffalo’s gay bars and became part of the city’s gay social scene.
“She moved out of a biological family hostile to her sexuality and gender expression, and to the end of her life carried legal documents that made clear they were not her family,” Pratt said in her write-up published in the Advocate.
She moved to New York City in the early 1980s, where, among other things, she became an advocate for people with AIDS, Pratt said in her write-up.
“Her historical and theoretical writing has been widely anthologized and taught in the U.S. and international academic settings,” Pratt wrote. “[S]he believed in the right of self-determination of oppressed individuals, communities, groups, and nations,” according to Pratt.