Dedicated Trans Activist Leslie Feinberg Has Died At 65

After years battling tick-borne infections, transgender activist and author Leslie Feinberg passed away on Saturday at 65 years old. Feinberg, whose words were immortalized in her groundbreaking 1993 book Stone Butch Blues, left the world with one final poetic plea: "Remember me as a revolutionary communist."

Feinberg, who suffered complications from Lyme disease, babeisiosis, and protomyxzoa rheumatica, died in her home in Syracuse, New York. Her partner of 22 years, Minnie Bruce Pratt, was by her side.

Feinberg was a well-known activist across a spectrum of issues including worker's rights, women's rights, racial equality, gay rights, and trans rights. She prided herself in advancing the Marxist concept of "transgender liberation," which informed the usage of the term entering into the 1990s.

Stone Butch Blues, Feinberg's her first novel, is considered one of the cornerstones in studying the complexities of gender. Until days before her death, she was working on a twentieth anniversary of the book that would be available for free access and download online. The online edition would also include also include a slideshow of the widespread efforts to free CeCe McDonald, the trans woman who was jailed for defending herself against an attacker and to whom the book is dedicated. Feinberg's friends are continuing to post her final work to complete the project.

Feinberg also wrote a second novel, Drag King Dreams, and three non-fiction books, Rainbow Solidarity in Defense of Cuba, Transgender Warriors: Making History, and Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue.

Feinberg was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on September 1, 1949 but was raised in Buffalo, New York. She worked a string of temp jobs before she became involved with the communist paper Workers World in 1974, where she eventually became the managing editor.

Feinberg did not associate with her biological family, citing a hostility toward her sexual expression. She employed a Marxist idea that she defined her family and loved ones, not the state. She is survived by Pratt and an extended family of her choice and friends.

Toward the end of her life, Feinberg said that she had "never been in search of a common umbrella identity, or even an umbrella term, that brings together people of oppressed sexes, gender expressions, and sexualities."

Note: Although Feinberg preferred to be addressed in zie/hir pronouns, the obituary provided to The Advocate by Feinberg's spouse, Minnie Bruce Pratt, used female pronouns.

Images: Flickr/Leslie Feinberg