Remembering Leslie Feinberg

Published on Nov 19, 2014

This Trans* Day of Remembrance, Astraea mourns those our community has lost, and celebrates the legacy of one we have loved; Leslie Feinberg.

South Africa

Photo taken by Kelebogile Ntladi on behalf of Iranti-Org

Each year on November 20th, we come together with our communities in the U.S. and around the globe for Transgender Day of Remembrance to celebrate the courage and resilience of those who have been murdered because of transphobia and hatred.

Today many of our grantee partners have organized commemorations and celebration events. Transgender and Intersex Africa (TIA) and Iranti-Org are two in South Africa who hosted a day of affirmation and celebration and renewed a mandate to ensure the government commits to increased services and policy changes for trans persons. 200 people took time to be part of the day, and one of the activists commemorated was Leslie Feinberg who died on November 15th.

Astraea joins Iranti-Org and TIA in remembering the legacy of a groundbreaking activist for trans* liberation and social justice. A fierce outspoken advocate for trans* rights, Leslie drew sharp attention to “anti-racist white, working-class, secular Jewish, transgender, lesbian, female, revolutionary communist” issues. Zhe will be remembered for hir novels Stone Butch Blues and Transgender Liberation, editing the communist Workers Worldnewspaper, mobilizing against the KKK in Atlanta and defending Buffalo, NY from anti-choicers. “Remember me as a revolutionary communist.” were hir last words, as reported in an obituary by Feinberg’s partner of 22 years, activist and poet Minnie Bruce Pratt.

The 1993 Lesbian Writer’s Fund Awards Gala, Pictured left to right: Cheryl Clarke, Leslie Feinberg, Minnie Bruce Pratt, event emcee Karen Williams, and Cheryl Neal Reed.

Today, on Trans* Day of Remembrance, we stand in solidarity with trans* folks around the world and recommit ourselves to supporting struggles for gender, racial and economic justice for all. We also recognize the impact Leslie had on our lives and the lives of many of our grantee partners. To honor hir wide-reaching legacy we share a few stories from grantee partners and friends who recount the life changing impact zhe had on us as activists, as lovers, as friends and comrades.

Mauro Cabral, Co-Director, Global Action for Trans* Equality, Argentina
“I met Leslie Feinberg in the mid nineties, when their name represented a poetic and political discourse among lesbians and trans men. Apart from being a benchmark literary figure, Feinberg’s work engaged with themes of solidarity, love, friendship, and hope. Leslie Feinberg wasn’t just a popular North American writer to us, but someone who instigated a constellation of emotions that impacted our ways of resisting, speaking, feeling, and writing about our identities. Leslie was one of the key authors we would incorporate into our work and was someone who ignited passion in us about our lives. With Leslie’s death, I feel a piece of the world has died, but of course they have left us with the legacy of a shared struggle to change the world.”

Liesl Theron – founder of Gender DynamiX, South Africa
“It is obviously impossible for me to speak for South Africans, or for any people in the global South, I can really just speak for myself. Both early publications of Leslie Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues and Trans Liberation – Beyond Pink or Blue were potentially the two most read books in countries where there were not many/any other trans/lesbian/queer publications available. They both became most influential to many, many trans* and lesbian people. They were read in shared community libraries, queer book clubs and disseminated far beyond activist circles because they covered so many intersecting struggles. They became important to many activists and struggle lives, ideologies and formations. I am yet to meet or know of a trans activist who is so widely read….Trans Liberation, which is the more political of the two, is written in an easy-to-read English. People who are not academic scholars can easily access it. A great person, with sterling analytical mind left us.”

To find Transgender Day of Remembrance events in your community, visit the International Transgender Day of Remembrance website

To learn more about International Day of Action Against Trans Depathologization, visit Stop Trans Pathologization.