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Transgender Warriors : Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman Paperback – June 30, 1997

3.7 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Leslie Feinberg has been a leader in the transgender rights movement as long as such a movement has existed. This book is both deeply personal and widely researched. Feinberg examines perceptions of the body, the status of clothing, and the structures of societies that welcome or are threatened by gender variance. The portrait gallery that closes the book contains photographs and capsule biographies of contemporary transgendered people. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Feinberg, a surgically and hormonally transgendered female-to-male and the author of the novel Stone Butch Blues, here effectively pummels several old saws about gender, such as that there were two or three centuries in ancient Greece that constituted the golden age of gayness ("How happy were the gay slaves?" she asks). She also shows the often frantic and neurotic ways Western society clings to rigid notions of gender, while at the same time she describes (though not fully enough) how these notions shift radically from age to age. But her historical perspective can be sketchy. Feinberg, for example, expends little effort in looking into why a notorious band of male Welsh revolutionaries calling themselves Rebecca and Her Daughters dressed as women to destroy tollbooths in the mid-19th century. Though she draws many conclusions from this and other examples of cross-dressing rebellion through the ages, she fails to consider that the readiest disguise for a married man is his wife's clothing. The book does offer an enlightening album of singular people: a female transvestite who is sexually attracted to gay men; a couple consisting of a female cross-dresser and a male-cross-dresser. But Feinberg ultimately leaves too many gaps, both in history and in reasoning, to make her theories about gender expression and gender oppression solid. Author tour. (May) FYI: Filming of Stone Butch Blues, which won both the ALA Award for Gay and Lesbian Literature and the Lambda Literary Award in 1993, is to begin this spring.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; unknown edition (June 30, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807079413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807079416
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.7 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #381,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I'm a 20-year-old female-to-male transsexual. Five years ago, I didn't even know other people like me existed. Now, thanks to this book, I know people like me have been around as long as human beings from the more ordinary walks of life.
You might think that being transsexual, I'd be pretty open-minded, but I must confess that this book really got me thinking about my own chosen gender and what exactly I want do with my transsexuality. Do I want to blend in with all the genetic XY guys after all, leaving no trace of my 'abnormal' gender? Do I really care if people know I don't have a penis? Must I be 100% male 100% of the time? And what is 'male' anyway?
Leslie presents a very personal history of transgenderism. Hir short autobiography echoes that of the many people who don't fit into the male OR female ONLY roles society has pushed us into over the centuries. Being transgendered, I could really emphasise with hir life story, and that of all the other trans* people who have a part in this book.
I'd recommend this book not only to other trans* people, but anyone who is interested in something else other than the traditional gender roles we are given. This is such a different prism to look at history and gender through. I want to major in History now. ::grin::
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Format: Paperback
Those interested in transgenderism have long been teased by all-too-brief descriptions of its existence in times past. If mentioned at all in previous works, transgendered history has been soft-pedaled into vague meanderings on Native American "two-spirits".
Leslie Feinberg not only provides comprehensive documentation of the roles of transgendered people in ancient societies, but also interprets these traditions and their decline by deconstructing our current views of gender as the result of patriarchy. Feinberg also weaves into the interpretation elements of socialist theory and class oppression.
These theoretical passages are interspersed with personal vignettes from the Feinberg's life which flesh out the explanation. Even if one doesn't fully buy into Feinberg's views, the book takes you on a fabulous journey and forces you to re-examine your beliefs about gender.
Although not scholarly,the book serves the important purpose of contributing one volume that consolidates documentation of many of the instances of transgenderism that previously were splintered throughout the literature.
The book is a quick read, which is both refreshing and disappointing. Perhaps in the near future Feinberg or others will branch off this pioneering work and continue to re-discover the robbed tradition of transgenderism throughout the world.
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Format: Paperback
History is not only for historians but if one is not a historian one's understanding of events and individuals within their context will be limited. Even then, few historians are capable of mastering the entirety of human history. It is clear that Feinberg has done a lot of reading but it is also clear that her readings has been filtered through two lens.

The first is Marxism. Given her working class background and where/when Feinberg grew up and lived prior to this book, it makes perfect sense this would be one of the lens she views history through. Marxism is still a valid if debated theory of historical interpretation but it is rarely sufficient to explain everything.

Feinberg's second lens is her own natural desire to find others like herself, others who do not neatly fit into the social defined gender categories. While this desire is natural it should never be can excuse to misinterpret evidence or to view other cultures with your own biases. But let's be honest, many well-trained historians do this.

Therefore I cannot fault a layperson too much for historical interpretations I may have issue with but instead I should look at where such information is gleaned. The fact is that the vast majority of Feinberg's statements are drawn from published students by scholars and wouldbe scholars.

What I like about this book is that she attempts to pull together a wide range of information and couple it with the political, social, and economic struggles of transgendered people today. The stories are powerful and pulled from a variety of times and places though I noticed a very large amount of Native American information.

This book came out 12 years ago so I would urge Feinberg to reflect on this and revise it to include more evidence and interpretations as well as an update on civil rights for those who cannot or refuse to live nicely in a gender box.
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A must read. The history of transgendered people in the world is fascinating and the history of how they have been treated historically is enlightening. They have not always been treated with the disdain and hatred as they are treated currently. The depths to which Feinberg has gone in his research is outstanding . An easy read as well. The book keeps you interested. Includes many photos of transgendered people and art. It is sad that Feinberg died so young and before he could write more books.
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Format: Paperback
Of course this book is personal. Of course it is passionate. It is an important attempt by a recognized trans author and amateur historian to catalyze a larger project of tracing authentic patterns of gender expression that don't conform to the binary that has been forced upon society since the rise of class divisions (i.e., since the collapse of "primitive" or "tribal" collectivism). And the book thereby contributes to efforts to demystify the notion that "two sexes" are a scientific fact and historical truth.
Hopefully others will pick up where Feinberg leaves off and apply other methodologies to uncover what has really been going on throughout human history where it comes to gender.
What the book lacks in traditional academic rigor it more than makes up for with its first-person self-consciousness, originality and plausibility in the interpretation of historical data. It is richly illustrated, literate, contemporary and very relevant to today's discourse.
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