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Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman

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With a New Afterword by the AuthorIn this fascinating, personal journey through history, Leslie Feinberg uncovers persuasive evidence that there have always been people who crossed the cultural boundaries of gender. Transgender Warriors is an eye-opening jaunt through the history of gender expression and a powerful testament to the rebellious spirit.


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With a New Afterword by the AuthorIn this fascinating, personal journey through history, Leslie Feinberg uncovers persuasive evidence that there have always been people who crossed the cultural boundaries of gender. Transgender Warriors is an eye-opening jaunt through the history of gender expression and a powerful testament to the rebellious spirit.

30 review for Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shanice Mcbean

    I've read a few reviews of this and a lot seem to bash Feinberg for not presenting a thoroughly academic history of transgender identity. I do think this kind of critique misses the point: quite spectacularly. It's definitely true that if you want a meticulous, detailed, jargony drudge through trans history then this is not the book: it neither has the style, content or length for that kinda project. But this book from the beginning opens as a personal story of discovering oneself *through* histo I've read a few reviews of this and a lot seem to bash Feinberg for not presenting a thoroughly academic history of transgender identity. I do think this kind of critique misses the point: quite spectacularly. It's definitely true that if you want a meticulous, detailed, jargony drudge through trans history then this is not the book: it neither has the style, content or length for that kinda project. But this book from the beginning opens as a personal story of discovering oneself *through* history, rather than the more boring (in my view!) task of discovering history per se (though this is important in other contexts of course). As someone who has always had an atypical gender expression, when you start discovering the possibility of gender variance the way the world neatly compartmentalizes into two - male and female - begins to smack you quite rudely in the face. And then you see it everywhere: in the way people talk, walk, their hairstyles, their mannerisms, their beliefs, their favourite colour, their partners, the way they have sex or who they want to have sex with. All neatly carved into a tidy dichotomy: male and female. Useful, as Feinberg argues, not for us as free people but for the ruling classes who need to mechanically restrict our gender expression for their own devices. Trans identity has a history of being invisible. Which is strange because trans people also have a history of being loved, celebrated and respected across the globe and across times. It's within this framework that "Transgender Warriors" operates: it attempts to find the invisible trans self in the rich and bountiful trans history that exists; bringing that self to light, through history. Hence, elucidating the history in the process. From Joan of Arc to Two-Spirit people or from Aphrodite to Brandon Teena: trans people - and gender variance more generally - has a deeply rich history. And perhaps unexpectedly a rich history in working class resistance. This book is about Feinberg discovering that history in tandem with discovering hirself. As someone who was repressed and oppressed on the basis of gender identity and exploited from the standpoint of class, Feinberg was attempting to locate hirself - through history - as part of a collective able to fight back and resist. Hir use of history is on the whole factual but as a result of hir form, somewhat biographical. This was supplemented by the picture gallery at the end which the author again used as a way of quite creatively melding history with the biographical stories of people's personal lives and struggles. Perhaps the downside was the only argument Feinberg offered for why trans oppression exists is because it's yet another way of reinventing and enforcing class hierarchy. and of course she's not wrong, but hir argument was crude in places. On the whole though, a fantastic book. Read it. If not, your loss.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I have such mixed feeling about this book. On one hand, it is obviously a very personal book for the author, chronicling her journey to find people like herself in history and in the present day. The autobiographical parts are great and the photo section in the back is inspirational. I don't begrudge her deep need to find people like her in the world and to start looking at larger issues in Western culture. However, as a person with an academic historical background, I cringed at a lot of her exa I have such mixed feeling about this book. On one hand, it is obviously a very personal book for the author, chronicling her journey to find people like herself in history and in the present day. The autobiographical parts are great and the photo section in the back is inspirational. I don't begrudge her deep need to find people like her in the world and to start looking at larger issues in Western culture. However, as a person with an academic historical background, I cringed at a lot of her examples. She profiles numerous groups and figures such as Joan of Arc that are deeply controversial. Yet she strips away all their complexity and contradiction so they can be the role models she is desperately looking for. The book is littered with unsupported theories and flat-out historical inaccuracies. To really explore these issues in proper well rounded depth, the book would be twice as long and not nearly as feel-good. And I personally can't support spreading historical inaccuracies, even if they make people feel good. If you look at this book as Feinberg's autobiography of her historical search, it is ok, but I would never recommend it as a historical text. Just take some of her examples with large grains of salt.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alice Lemon

    I really enjoyed this book, and yet I'm not sure I can really recommend it to people, or at least to most people. I liked Feinberg's idea of combining of socialism and trans rights into a single manifesto, and the book certainly did a good job of making me like the author. The sections that discuss Feinberg's life story and gender experiences are quite interesting, if depressing. (Though not directly related to gender, I'm a bit horrified that other students kept them from using the playground at I really enjoyed this book, and yet I'm not sure I can really recommend it to people, or at least to most people. I liked Feinberg's idea of combining of socialism and trans rights into a single manifesto, and the book certainly did a good job of making me like the author. The sections that discuss Feinberg's life story and gender experiences are quite interesting, if depressing. (Though not directly related to gender, I'm a bit horrified that other students kept them from using the playground at school when they were a kid, because one of those students' parents told them to do so because "Jews killed our god.") The problem with the book is that much of it is devoted to an attempted history of transgender and gender-variant people in history that is more mythology than responsible history. I'm not a real historian, and I'm not familiar with all the time periods Feinberg discusses, but their account of periods I am familiar with---particularly Medieval and Early Modern Europe is full---of deep confusion and inaccuracy. Things that particularly bothered me included the claim that "gentiles," as used by Medieval Catholic officials, meant "people in the countryside who were matriarchal communists" and the fact that Feinberg appears to misunderstand a condemnation of Cathars as a description of transgender people. As far as I can tell, Feinberg's confused history is based in large part on Marxist and Second Wave Feminist folk-history, which they've attempted to synthesize into a history of gender variance. Their writing gave me the impression that they were a fairly neat person, who was unfortunately fucked over by class things that denied them access to better historical training.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carey Hanlin

    My only real qualm with this book is that Feinberg could have used a greater diversity of primary and secondary sources, as well as counterarguments and rebuttals to counterarguments, in order to better fortify some of the claims they make, especially about historical figures like Joan of Arc. That being said, as an exploration of transgender, gender noncomforming, and gender bending expression throughout history and across cultures, the book is wonderful and encouraging, especially in its contin My only real qualm with this book is that Feinberg could have used a greater diversity of primary and secondary sources, as well as counterarguments and rebuttals to counterarguments, in order to better fortify some of the claims they make, especially about historical figures like Joan of Arc. That being said, as an exploration of transgender, gender noncomforming, and gender bending expression throughout history and across cultures, the book is wonderful and encouraging, especially in its continual suggestion that rigid gender binary systems and oppressive gender norms are indeed products of patriarchal control, and haven't been implicit to every society throughout history. I also appreciated Feinberg's candor in insisting that true freedom of gender expression requires a social shift back to communalism and a socioeconomic shift toward socialism. At the very least, I believe they're right in suggesting that true freedom of gender and sexuality can't be attained as long as cishet white men control the majority of wealth, legislation, and means of production. It should be noted that since this book was written in the mid 90s, the language used has evolved substantially since then. Now, words like queer and genderqueer are commonplace, and trasgendered is considered more of a slur, so take the language with a grain of salt. It was also interesting how Feinberg included the entire spectrum of gender noncomforming identities and behaviors in her analysis, including cross dressers, drag queens and kings, etc... as a united group transgressing gender norms and oppressive gender binary systems.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    This book begins almost as a memoir, but quickly delves into how gender subversion has been a part of radical revolutionary movements for centuries. Although it is rather short, this book is full of stories and information that are sure to lead to further reading -- naturally Joan d'Arc is mentioned, but also many other cases of gender-bending revolutionaries that helped shape the world. This is a must read for anyone who is interested in gender politics, revolution, progressive politics, or just This book begins almost as a memoir, but quickly delves into how gender subversion has been a part of radical revolutionary movements for centuries. Although it is rather short, this book is full of stories and information that are sure to lead to further reading -- naturally Joan d'Arc is mentioned, but also many other cases of gender-bending revolutionaries that helped shape the world. This is a must read for anyone who is interested in gender politics, revolution, progressive politics, or just anyone that wants some really super-nifty facts to spout off! In this book, Feinberg argues how people that transgress the gender boundaries (for whatever reason) become revolutionaries, and subtly aims at the idea that gender expression can be political in itself.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Caty

    Okay, let's just say this now--this book is not a well researched, thourough, copmprehensive historical document--more like a broadsheet. However, it introduces fascinating possibilities for further self-directed historical research about this mostly silenced population's history. & the connection made between transgendered people's history & revolutionary movements in the next to last chapter--from crossdressing peasant tollbooth rioters in 1700s England to Stonewall--is particularly compelling. Okay, let's just say this now--this book is not a well researched, thourough, copmprehensive historical document--more like a broadsheet. However, it introduces fascinating possibilities for further self-directed historical research about this mostly silenced population's history. & the connection made between transgendered people's history & revolutionary movements in the next to last chapter--from crossdressing peasant tollbooth rioters in 1700s England to Stonewall--is particularly compelling. And the insertion of Feinberg's personal history, while pretty simplistically written, is very moving.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Othy

    Though Feinberg starts off well, she shows herself to be an amateur historian, preferring the facts that support her argument to looking at history in its entirety. The problem with this book resides in the author's reliance on the horribly false and undermining ideas that both men and the Christian Church are naturally oppressive. Based on such falsities, how could any opinion (whether it be on history, politics, society, or anything else) lead even close to truth? Though Feinberg starts off well, she shows herself to be an amateur historian, preferring the facts that support her argument to looking at history in its entirety. The problem with this book resides in the author's reliance on the horribly false and undermining ideas that both men and the Christian Church are naturally oppressive. Based on such falsities, how could any opinion (whether it be on history, politics, society, or anything else) lead even close to truth?

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    A ridiculous radical Marxist personal account of one trans-man's journey of historical self-discovery. Too bad the presentation was 99% ahistorical. I'm sorry, but you can draw a straight line from transgender Hindu deities to Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman. It just doesn't work. A ridiculous radical Marxist personal account of one trans-man's journey of historical self-discovery. Too bad the presentation was 99% ahistorical. I'm sorry, but you can draw a straight line from transgender Hindu deities to Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman. It just doesn't work.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Avery Delany

    A great resource for both trans and cis people. Wish I'd read it years ago so I could've thrown it at all the people during my history degree who told me trans history isn't included on the curriculum because there aren't any books written on it... RTC A great resource for both trans and cis people. Wish I'd read it years ago so I could've thrown it at all the people during my history degree who told me trans history isn't included on the curriculum because there aren't any books written on it... RTC

  10. 4 out of 5

    Madelyn Sundquist

    Great primer on cross-dressing and transgender in moments of history, especially with concern to lower class groups and certain indigenous populations. Easy to read without the imposition of unnecessary academic jargon.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bryn

    First book of the year and I actually read it slower than I would've done because I didn't want it to end. Everyone needs to read this, trans and cis people alike (and people who aren't sure). A book about History, politics, solidarity, love. Thank you Leslie. First book of the year and I actually read it slower than I would've done because I didn't want it to end. Everyone needs to read this, trans and cis people alike (and people who aren't sure). A book about History, politics, solidarity, love. Thank you Leslie.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bryn

    Oddly culturally imperialistic from the self-professed king of anti-imperialism.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    I like it when the author speaks about her life as a trans jewish child in the USA in the 50s. I also like that she decided explore trans people in the history, but I just can't really finish the book. As I've read scholarly books on the creation of patriarchy, and on history in general, I just cannot stand how sure she is about stuff that is not even her field of expertise. For example, Leslie Feinberg seems pretty sure what brought about the patriarchal system, while scholars who study the sub I like it when the author speaks about her life as a trans jewish child in the USA in the 50s. I also like that she decided explore trans people in the history, but I just can't really finish the book. As I've read scholarly books on the creation of patriarchy, and on history in general, I just cannot stand how sure she is about stuff that is not even her field of expertise. For example, Leslie Feinberg seems pretty sure what brought about the patriarchal system, while scholars who study the subject rigorously only present us with assumptions. Also, in terms of history, there are some other weirdnesses - like calling the French monarchy in the 15th century a French nation state. So, nah, thanks. Anyway, if you'd like to read the book, I got it from Karloveska kniznica :)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Devin

    Leslie Feinberg's magnum opus -- a groundbreaking work in which Leslie finally gives a concrete history of our lives as transgender and gender-variant people. I've seen reviews of this book from other readers in this decade or in the last 10 or so years say that this book "isn't well researched"; it's important and necessary to understand that this book was written at a time where any research on gender variance was extremely difficult to find and the modern works on trans history...well, didn't Leslie Feinberg's magnum opus -- a groundbreaking work in which Leslie finally gives a concrete history of our lives as transgender and gender-variant people. I've seen reviews of this book from other readers in this decade or in the last 10 or so years say that this book "isn't well researched"; it's important and necessary to understand that this book was written at a time where any research on gender variance was extremely difficult to find and the modern works on trans history...well, didn't exist. Leslie is truly walking down a dark pathway armed with very little besides a flashlight, so to speak, and uncovering the history we have been denied access to. Of course the language is outdated, that's to be expected from a book written nearly 25 years ago, and also it's to be expected from the book that serves as the jumping-off point for studying transgender history critically. If you're not ready to confront the realities of evolutionary linguistics, especially as it pertains to queer/trans studies, then this book probably isn't for you. Leslie hirself knew that this was just the beginning of us learning about the history of ourselves, and that the right words perhaps had not even been discovered yet, had not even been created yet. Or if they had been created, they were seldom-used or even took on a different definition than what we know them to mean today. This book is also groundbreaking in that it openly and blatantly disrupts the early notions of "passing" and challenges just what it means to be transgender. Before this, in the early days of trans history, transgender (then called transvestite or transsexual) typically referred to someone who sought out medical procedures to match up their bodies with their gender (male or female) -- this of course invoked the Western binary, which is a product of colonialism, imperialism, racism, etc. However, Leslie challenges this, asserting that transgender is a wide umbrella term that encompasses gender expression that is queer, or non-normative. Additionally, Leslie also asserts that not every single trans person needs to have or even wants to have surgery of any kind. That gender and "biological sex" are not as rigid as Western society teaches us, that they are both fluid and socially constructed. It also calls for a bridge to be made between the Transgender Liberation Movement and the Women's Liberation Movement, noting that the oppression of both transgender people and cisgender women are bound up together and can only succeed through reliance and unity with one another. This was a critical turning point in Feminist Studies because this was published at the end of Second Wave Feminism and at the genesis of Third Wave Feminism, when "biology is destiny" was becoming more and more obsolete (thankfully) and intersectionality began to take a firm grasp on the Women's Liberation Movement. This book doesn't necessarily "call out", but "calls in" the tying together of the oppression of transgender people and the oppression of women, and shows the undeniable bond between the two, the need to recognize that, and the need to united around that in order to fight back against capitalism, sexism, etc. The last 100 or so pages consist largely of a portrait gallery of transgender and gender-variant people, and it is beautiful. It's times like this, when I was reading through this section, that I'm overwhelmed at the reminder of how vast and beautiful gender and gender expression are, that there are millions of trans people out there whose stories may not and probably are not the same whatsoever. It's overwhelming in such a great way. If reading theory and gender studies isn't really your thing, at least get this book for the portrait gallery in the back -- it tells a story all on its own. The afterword of the book made me emotional. It was written by Leslie on hir 47th birthday, and ze acknowledges the illnesses that have plagued her over the years, and how it is getting worse. Fortunately, we would be lucky enough to have Leslie with us for another 18 years, but unfortunately, that 18 years has come and gone -- Leslie Feinberg is dead and this is all we have to remember her by. But what a vast legacy by which to remember someone. Hir legacy is opening the door to trans history, a door previously shut to all of us -- Leslie forced it open and began dragging it out of the proverbial closet and into the sunlight; ze began to make the connections through Marxist theory, between transgender people and the overarching class struggle against oppression. And ze does it in an accessible language! There's not a lot of academic jargon (and a lot of it IS jargon, speaking as someone previously in the academic world) and breaks it down for the working class audience it is directed to. I am overwhelmed reading this book nearly 25 years after its publication, at a time where, although we still suffer from transphobia and other oppression, we have greater flexibility in being ourselves and being able to live as the gender (or lack thereof) that we so choose. Being someone who is agender, or doesn't identify with or feel any connection to any gender, I can't imagine what this would have been like to read back in 1996 -- I think I probably would've just spent my days sobbing that someone finally, FINALLY understood me. Or that someone finally made a call to all of us who understood each other, but had never met, never had the words to express ourselves. What a treasure this book is. It makes me long for Leslie Feinberg, a transgender communist revolutionary, who died far too soon, and whose legacy is only lifted higher and higher as the struggle for liberation continues.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Monika

    Basically: 😍😍😍

  16. 5 out of 5

    HeavyReader

    This book is well-researched and sources are documented. It is packed full of information on transgender people throughout history. It's a must read. Highly Recommended This book is well-researched and sources are documented. It is packed full of information on transgender people throughout history. It's a must read. Highly Recommended

  17. 4 out of 5

    Leo Broolyn

    First time I read a book about someone like me, really like me.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sigrid M

    Excerpts from this book helped me to find myself years ago. Read cover to cover, it remains one of the best little introductions to the materialist theory of trans history and trans oppression—nearly a quarter century after it was written. (!!) This is precisely because Feinberg so clearly identifies—with the indispensable assistance of hir indigenous comrades and interviewees—the links between contemporary anti-colonial struggle and the struggle for trans liberation. In fact, Feinberg’s work her Excerpts from this book helped me to find myself years ago. Read cover to cover, it remains one of the best little introductions to the materialist theory of trans history and trans oppression—nearly a quarter century after it was written. (!!) This is precisely because Feinberg so clearly identifies—with the indispensable assistance of hir indigenous comrades and interviewees—the links between contemporary anti-colonial struggle and the struggle for trans liberation. In fact, Feinberg’s work here is perhaps best conceptualized as a complimentary investigation: taking the self-knowledges of gender non-conforming indigenous people as a starting point, Feinberg looks into (mostly but not only european) history in order to corroborate and add depth to what these comrades had already surmised through their lived experience: that gender non-conformity is real, and that the oppression of gender non-conforming people is part of a class struggle: an ongoing attempt to destroy and erase evidence of the social fabric from which oppressed people (and colonized people in particular) have historically (in certain contingent circumstances, it must be said) drawn a certain amount of strength in their fight against capitalism. (On the other hand, where capitalism has accomplished social atomization and set the nuclear family firmly in place as its guarantor, that ‘same’ social fabric has proven time and time again to be an obstacle to liberation, and not just to the liberation of trans people. That’s all I’m going to say about the crucial and complex relationship between trans liberation and so-called family abolition here.) While this investigative strategy—starting from the position of believing gender non-conforming people—is easy fodder for ‘professional’ historians who want to argue that all historical gender non-conformity is only the exception which proves the rule of binary sex, to me it is obviously a point in Feinberg’s favor. After all, ‘objective’ histories of gender have been far more beset by researcher biases than Feinberg’s self-aware situated knowledges ever could be—and this is exactly what Feinberg’s work shows. And for those who now want to take hir to task for asking about the actual contexts in which gender non-conformity took place—well, they only prove Feinberg’s point (and reproduce precisely the same form of ‘prove it’ transphobia which almost all gender non-conforming people eventually encounter in medicine and other institutional contexts). This is, in any event, the kicker: where others want to identify gender non-conformity as a wholly modern phenomenon with a modern ‘emancipatory’ (i.e. anti-feudal) or ‘corrosive’ (I.e. petty bourgeois, idealist) content, Feinberg makes the case that we’ve always been here. This view is now more or less ubiquitous among advocates for trans liberation—especially among those who are connected in some way to the ongoing anti-colonial/anti-imperialist struggle. I can’t say that this wouldn’t have been the case without Feinberg, but I have no doubt that, without hir work, we would be farther from our goals than we are today. Yes, there are more than a few limitations, unsolved questions, incomplete answers, and erroneous conclusions in Transgender Warriors. Nevertheless, Feinberg’s work is one of the best and most inspiring examples of independent, non-funded scholarship available today. The fact that ze admirably sidesteps the pet concerns of academic trans theorists is a welcome bonus.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Neuromantic

    In Swedish, we have the word "folkbildning", which refers to the working-class tradition of peer-to-peer education that Feinberg describes so lovingly. Just like Feinberg hirself was awakened by socialist study groups, this book aims to enlighten you the same way: by speaking to you as an equal, as a person, and sharing the knowledge they have been able to gather. The reference list is extensive, everything that should have a footnote does have a footnote, and many academic works are quoted - bu In Swedish, we have the word "folkbildning", which refers to the working-class tradition of peer-to-peer education that Feinberg describes so lovingly. Just like Feinberg hirself was awakened by socialist study groups, this book aims to enlighten you the same way: by speaking to you as an equal, as a person, and sharing the knowledge they have been able to gather. The reference list is extensive, everything that should have a footnote does have a footnote, and many academic works are quoted - but also many personal conversations with activists, academics and people in general. Feinberg shares hir own story of personal and intellectual development and tells you everything they have learned. This is a history book through the eye of the underdog, and it's a mission statement from a lifelong activist. If you're looking for an "impartial" academic book, this is not it, but why be impartial when the world is unjust? Feinberg quotes the same union song several times - "Which side are you on?" Feinberg did not have the opportunity to be professionally trained as a historian, but is also not TRYING to be an academic. This is the work of an intelligent, research-minded person who has had to invent the wheel pretty much by hirself, guided by conversation and relationships. Feinberg is trying to meet you halfway, which is a very different attitude compared to the teacher-student relationship, where the expert talks and the novice listens. Look at the type of social structures they talk about: communities where respect is earned through strength of personality and shared between peers, rather than given by hierarchy. Feinberg presents hirself, hir life, hir research and perspective, so that it's up to you as a reader to decide to listen to hir or not and to do the rest of the work. This is a partnership, not a lecture. If you are an academic and wish to learn more academically, you can easily study the sources yourself. If you are a trans person in need of support, you will find it in Feinberg's mentorship and in the portraits of innumerable trans people throughout history and today (and if you want to argue that Feinberg may have interpreted some sources too creatively, consider that your view on history is likely to be biased in the other direction), and in 1996 you could also have used the phone numbers and addresses in the appendix. If you are a cis person who needs their imagination to be stimulated, to learn how to look for transgenderness and gender variance, you will find that too. And if you are a visionary or an activist, you'll find a morally inspiring call to arms. This is personal development through education and cooperation. It's folkbildning at its finest.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rhiannon Root

    It’s easy to see why Leslie Feinberg’s “Transgender Warriors” is a staple of so many women’s studies classes. This book is powerful and an important part of the canon. Feinberg details transgender people in history as well as their own journey and argues for people to be able to choose their own destinies and their own gender expression. They also detail some important bits of history that show that trans people have been around since well, since forever. (Representation matters!) The last bit wh It’s easy to see why Leslie Feinberg’s “Transgender Warriors” is a staple of so many women’s studies classes. This book is powerful and an important part of the canon. Feinberg details transgender people in history as well as their own journey and argues for people to be able to choose their own destinies and their own gender expression. They also detail some important bits of history that show that trans people have been around since well, since forever. (Representation matters!) The last bit where Feinberg profiles everyday transgender people is especially well done. I’m on board with all those things. Those are ideas that I think are important and should be explored. What I couldn’t fully embrace were a number of other things. First, and foremost, this is a book that doesn’t seem to know who its audience is. Feinberg has a clear idea of who they are, but what did they intend with this book? Is it supposed to be a memoir? A history? Who is the intended audience and what are you trying to accomplish? Some of Feinberg’s arguments were half-baked at best. I don’t buy Feinberg’s argument about Joan of Arc being a transgender person. By Feinberg’s own admission Joan couldn’t read or write. She’s someone who can’t speak for herself so all we know about her is what others have said about her. Ultimately, Joan of Arc becomes a figure where how she’s interpreted says more about who the person is rather than who Joan was. There’s also the repeated problem that Feinberg seems to think that converting to a communist system will, in fact, solve all of society’s evils. Nope. Just nope. The last thing that was completely off-putting was Feinberg’s tone. Throughout the book Feinberg seems to think that they are the only one ever who is so complex and so interesting with their gender expression. That alone made this short book a slog. If you’re going to read this book, I’d recommend starting at the third chapter and going from there.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Zzeke

    Transgender Warriors was was comforting and heartening to read at ?teen years old. This book has had a huge impact on my life and thinking; helping pave the way to my eventual acceptance of my own transness. It is full of fascinating hxstorical details that provoke the reader to question the established narratives of hxstoric events, as in its re-examining of Joan of Arc through a gender-based lens. My main critique of this book is that it relies very heavily on the 'we've always been here' appro Transgender Warriors was was comforting and heartening to read at ?teen years old. This book has had a huge impact on my life and thinking; helping pave the way to my eventual acceptance of my own transness. It is full of fascinating hxstorical details that provoke the reader to question the established narratives of hxstoric events, as in its re-examining of Joan of Arc through a gender-based lens. My main critique of this book is that it relies very heavily on the 'we've always been here' approach to validate present-day trans existence. I'm holding back a star because I do think the shoe-horning of traditional genders other than male and female as they exist endemically to non-westernized cultures into a modern transgender narrative is often, currently employed in a self-serving, self-referential and culturally self-centered way that exploits complex cultural realities as rhetorical tools in a way that can be incidentally simplistic, flattening and dismissive of these nonbinary third, fourth, etc. genders and the cultures in which they are integral, and Feinberg may share some of the blame for this phenomenon. Transgender Warriors, however, does a fine job of proving that the conventions as well as the experience of gender are not inevitable nor fixed but are culturally relative, dynamic, and fluid and change throughout time, place and class and compellingly demonstrates how the human fear of difference and transgression of social convention has been exploited throughout recorded hxstory to the advantage of those who in power. Fascinating and moving. I would recommend to anyone 12 and up, or perhaps younger, based on the intellectual maturity of the reader.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Edward Taylor

    I do not know how to write a good review for this one, but here I go anyway. I expected a different book than what I read. Meaning I was looking for a historical treatise of how the people listed in the title (plus others) changed history for their gender or because of it vs. their presumed gender. Instead, there was a singular focus of the writer based more upon their life and how they applied their feelings of being in the same role. More on people like Virginia Prince, Dr. Oliven, or even how I do not know how to write a good review for this one, but here I go anyway. I expected a different book than what I read. Meaning I was looking for a historical treatise of how the people listed in the title (plus others) changed history for their gender or because of it vs. their presumed gender. Instead, there was a singular focus of the writer based more upon their life and how they applied their feelings of being in the same role. More on people like Virginia Prince, Dr. Oliven, or even how non-binary people were also a huge part of the history of genders such as Joan of Arc (she was not transgender, she passed herself off as a man to fight for what she believed that her god wanted her to do, not because she was misgendered or wanted to live as a man) and RuPaul but then I realized the author did have a specific frame of reference from their Marxist upbringing and abuses suffered because of their own fluidity. Also, this is from 1996, so the revolutionary steps and paths laid by RuPaul, Lady Bunny, & Kevin Aviance were not as well known outside of the community. I liked it, but I should have paid more attention to when it was written to have given me a little more clarity as well as learned more about the author before making some of the notes I did while reading (yes, I take notes) but that should not dissuade anyone else who wants to read this for more focused attention on the history of the subject.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Possum Paderau

    This book wasn't perfect, but it was great for what it was supposed to be. This is not an academic analysis, it's an introduction to gender for working class trans people. Even if any individual instance of 'gender variance' that Feinberg included may not hold up perfectly under the withering gaze of academic discourse, the evidence as a whole indicates that the way people live in their laboring, reproductive bodies does not neatly fit a gender binary. Additionally, the gender binary does operat This book wasn't perfect, but it was great for what it was supposed to be. This is not an academic analysis, it's an introduction to gender for working class trans people. Even if any individual instance of 'gender variance' that Feinberg included may not hold up perfectly under the withering gaze of academic discourse, the evidence as a whole indicates that the way people live in their laboring, reproductive bodies does not neatly fit a gender binary. Additionally, the gender binary does operate in capitalism's favor, even if it was not necessarily created explicitly for that purpose. And comrade Feinberg's call for class consciousness is something lacking in a majority of analyses of gender. That's a huge contribution on their part: we need to remember what we're even talking about this for.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Séamus

    Genuinely a revelation. A very understandable and comprehensive materialist history of gender identity and transphobia. Feinberg details hir journey in understanding hir own gender, and the construction of gender roles, and links the transgender movement to all forms of class struggle. If found this book extremely moving and reassuring, especially the descriptions of gender categories in pre colonial North American societies. Transgender people have always existed, but transphobia is relatively Genuinely a revelation. A very understandable and comprehensive materialist history of gender identity and transphobia. Feinberg details hir journey in understanding hir own gender, and the construction of gender roles, and links the transgender movement to all forms of class struggle. If found this book extremely moving and reassuring, especially the descriptions of gender categories in pre colonial North American societies. Transgender people have always existed, but transphobia is relatively new, and this book gave me a new understanding about how gender prejudice came about and how it can be fought. I loved this book

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Outstanding book. Published in 1996, the issues written about here are still ones that Trans people are dealing with today. This book shows how Trans people have always been with us, and in certain societies were/are regarded as special people (the indigenous people of North America for one example). Leslie makes a compelling argument that the separation of people into different classes in ancient civilizations is what started the backlash against Trans people. I learned so much reading this and Outstanding book. Published in 1996, the issues written about here are still ones that Trans people are dealing with today. This book shows how Trans people have always been with us, and in certain societies were/are regarded as special people (the indigenous people of North America for one example). Leslie makes a compelling argument that the separation of people into different classes in ancient civilizations is what started the backlash against Trans people. I learned so much reading this and if you are looking to learn more about Trans people, and their history I cannot recommend this enough. Trans rights are human rights.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Skylar Baker

    A required reading for anyone who has felt the pull of gender variance in their life or has known and loved someone living in defiance of the gender system of the 21st century. While some of the terms are certainly dated, the principles hold true. Contrary to some more negative reviews, the author repeatedly states that the point of the work is not to place modern labels on people of the past, but instead to demonstrate that gender variance has been an inherent part of humanity across the centur A required reading for anyone who has felt the pull of gender variance in their life or has known and loved someone living in defiance of the gender system of the 21st century. While some of the terms are certainly dated, the principles hold true. Contrary to some more negative reviews, the author repeatedly states that the point of the work is not to place modern labels on people of the past, but instead to demonstrate that gender variance has been an inherent part of humanity across the centuries.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cameron

    It's a very layperson-friendly manifesto, and there's definitely some gems in here. Feinberg tries really hard to explain the colonialist and racist history of transphobia/the rigid Western gender binary, and (I think) does a halfway decent job, but loses a lot of nuance to the Marxist lens ze uses. (Which is a fine lens for many purposes, but like many Marxist cultural critics Feinberg doesn't seem to acknowledge that there's some distortion around the edges.) It's a very layperson-friendly manifesto, and there's definitely some gems in here. Feinberg tries really hard to explain the colonialist and racist history of transphobia/the rigid Western gender binary, and (I think) does a halfway decent job, but loses a lot of nuance to the Marxist lens ze uses. (Which is a fine lens for many purposes, but like many Marxist cultural critics Feinberg doesn't seem to acknowledge that there's some distortion around the edges.)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Just tremendous. The most accessible history I've probably ever read, telling some tales I'd never heard before and retelling others I didn't remember properly. The photographs interspersed throughout add a depth I was initially skeptical of and give the feeling of a "real" history book, despite the familiar, no-nonsense, first-person journal Leslie takes us on. Everyone should read this, and as a bonus I promise it won't take you long. Just tremendous. The most accessible history I've probably ever read, telling some tales I'd never heard before and retelling others I didn't remember properly. The photographs interspersed throughout add a depth I was initially skeptical of and give the feeling of a "real" history book, despite the familiar, no-nonsense, first-person journal Leslie takes us on. Everyone should read this, and as a bonus I promise it won't take you long.

  29. 4 out of 5

    JJ Hawkins

    Feinberg was ahead of their time in regards to terminology and vocabulary. I think this novel is a beautiful snippet of only a fraction of the gender non-conforming history. Feinberg’s passion oozes from the pages and nothing is more inspiring than that. This book serves a purpose, and it serves it well.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tess

    My new favourite book. Such a fascinating and empowering view of the history of trans people. And not just fascinating, but also deeply political. As well, the journey of the author in researching the book is woven in throughout. It’s not just a history but a call to action to overthrow capitalism and achieve trans liberation along with total human liberation. Can not recommend enough.

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