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Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue.

Leslie Feinberg * Beacon Press * $20

"Men are not from Mars and women are not from Venus." So writes Leslie Feinberg in her new and incisive book of essays. Darn! Just when some of us were pondering the possibilities of same-sex planets. Fortunately, Feinberg is here to dispel such way-out separatist notions and bring us back to earth.

Certainly the self-described "masculine female" author of the underground cult novel Stone Butch Blues and the social history Transgender Warriors is plenty grounded when she lyrically states that "gender is the poetry each of us makes out of the language we are taught."

A collection of speeches interspersed with first-person narratives from trans liberationists (like the venerable Stonewall veteran Sylvia Rivera), Trans Liberation is an uncompromising, intelligent, and occasionally frustrating work. Unwavering in her critique of the economic and social forces that define gender and sexuality, Feinberg reiterates much that she's already said (all forms of oppression are linked; unity is empowering, divisiveness debilitating). Yet it all remains depressingly relevant. While her attacks on the wealthy are overly simplistic and her picture of Cuba's medical system seems a tad too rosy, Feinberg is utterly rousing when recounting personal prejudice.

For instance, in 1995 and 1996 Feinberg was seriously ill with endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart valves caused by a bacterial infection, which worsened thanks partly to medical prejudice. (One night, when Feinberg showed up with a 104-degree fever, a doctor ordered her to leave the emergency room, saying, "You have a fewer because you are a very troubled person.") Feinberg also tells of being arrested for wearing men's clothing and describes the harassment that transpeople face when they simply want to pee in a public rest room. At such moments her courage and conviction effectively remind us that "unlike dairy products, sexuality absolutely does not need to be homogenized."

Bahr writes for The New York Times, Time Out New York, and New York magazine.
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Author:Bahr, David
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 29, 1998
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