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


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With a New Afterword
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Men and women have had their histories. This is the history book for the rest of us.--Kate Bornstein, author of Gender Outlaw

"[Transgender Warriors] leaves us with a sense that a transgendered concept of what it is to be fully human and psychologically whole is both valid and nothing new. A brief review cannot do justice to this amazing resource, not only for our communities, but for the world."--Patricia Roth Schwartz, Lambda Book Report

"[Transgender Warriors] does far more than document the history of transgenders. It delves into the transgender experience, inviting the reader to consider a spectrum of gender possibilities." --Linda Gebroe, San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

"No book since Toni Morrison's Beloved gives so much and holds itself so well. History becomes art, the political becomes transformative, the personal becomes universal." --Craig Hickman, Gay Community News

"The challenge Feinberg sets forth-a complex, multisided one-is to take up the banner of feminism and extend it, stretch it, until it has room for all women."--Rosemarie C. Sultan, Sojourner

"A ground-breaking gift to both the transgender community and the world at large."--Rachel Reed, Synapse

"A well-written, well-researched compendium of transgender history."--Harriet L. Schwartz, Philadelphia Gay News

"Nobody will remain unaffected by this book." --Heather Findlay, Girlfriends

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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.
Library Journal
Activist Feinberg (Stone Butch Blues, Firebrand, 1993) here presents a sweeping history that many others have glossed over or denied: she traces transgender lives, identities, and expression from communal societies to the present day. Furthermore, she provides theoretical insight while always remaining accessible to the general reader. Feinberg argues that the current devaluation and oppression of trans peoples is inextricably linked to the emergence of hierarchical class-based societal forms and to shifts from matrilineal to patriarchal social organization. Her book really comes alive, however, through her infusion of personal narrative into the historical materialthe book ultimately is Feinberg's personal journey to find some representative place in a history that usually has denied or denigrated trans existence. Illustrated throughout, her book is finally a "portrait gallery" of photographs accompanied by statements from and biographies of people representing parts of the transgender spectrum. Appendixes include lists of organizations and publications. A valuable resource for researchers and an important personal and historical account of an underexamined social group, this is recommended for both public and academic libraries.Karl Bryant, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara
Transgender rights activist Feinberg presents evidence that there have been people throughout history who defy cultural boundaries of sex and gender, and urges us to recognize them as warriors and visionaries. The coverage actually extends back to the mythology of several cultures. Highly illustrated in black and white. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Kirkus Reviews
A much-needed project, unfortunately weighed down by repetition and cliché.

Feinberg (Stone Butch Blues, 1993) has undertaken a history of transgender, a term used, Feinberg explains, "to include everyone who challenges the boundaries of sex and gender" or, as one activist puts it, to describe those individuals who live "full time in the gender opposite to their anatomy." It is a readable pop history, full of intriguing tidbits about past gender outlaws: For example, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake not for her resistance to the English but for the crime of cross-dressing. References to the author's personal experiences as a transgendered lesbian, as well as profiles of contemporary transgender activists, ground the book in present-day struggles. Unfortunately, excessive polemics mire Feinberg in repetition and ideological catch-phrases; instead of letting transgender's textured and often painful history speak for itself, she is continually hitting the reader over the head with preachings about the (admittedly very real) injustices Western society has visited upon those who do not fit neatly into the gender categories society assigns them. The sketches of contemporary transgendered people, among them writers, bodybuilders, historians, and artists, are written in their own words, and Feinberg allows many of them to spout rhetoric rather than describe the particularities of their own experience. She condescends to the reader by pointing out the obvious; mentioning transgenders who fought in the Confederacy, for example, she observes that not all gender deviants are politically progressive. Furthermore, Feinberg has no sense of humor about gender and does not seem to appreciate the potential for play in its subversion—she seems to see only oppression in the transgendered experience. Even her nod to wildly inventive drag supermodel RuPaul is earnest and flat.

This joylessness is understandable given her own experience of violence and isolation, first as a masculine woman, and now as a transgendered lesbian, but it leaves out an important aspect of her subject.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807079416
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 6/28/1997
  • Pages: 218
  • Sales rank: 404,680
  • Product dimensions: 6.51 (w) x 10.49 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

Leslie Feinberg has been a grassroots activist, journalist, and lecturer on behalf of the lesbian/gay/bi and transgender movements. S/he is the author of the acclaimed novel Stone Butch Blues.
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Table of Contents

1 The Journey Begins 3
2 My Path to Consciousness 11
3 The Give Away 21
4 They Called Her "Hommasse" 31
5 Our Sacred Past 39
6 Why Bigotry Began 49
7 But They Had Slaves! 55
8 Natural Becomes "Unnatural" 61
9 "Holy War" against Trans People 67
10 Leading the Charge 75
11 Not Just Passing 83
12 From Germany to Stonewall 91
13 To Be or Not to Be 101
14 Sisterhood: Make It Real! 109
15 Making History 121
Portrait Gallery 131
Appendix A. International Gender Bill of Rights 165
Appendix B. Transgender Organizations 171
Appendix C. Transgender Publications 177
Notes 181
Selected Bibliography 195
Photo Credits 199
Index 205
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2002

    Feinberg's 'Transgender Warriors'

    While there certainly have been people throughout history who did engage in cross-dressing as a preference, this book has managed to ignore most of them while erroneously claiming such to be the case about numerous others who did not legitimately fit the description. Perhaps the worst distortion occurs in the section on Joan of Arc, about which the following points should be made: 1) On the issue of her decision to wear male clothing, and the book's claim that she allegedly 'died for the right' to wear it: this subject is covered in a great many eyewitness accounts and other documents which clarify the 'spin' which her accusers put on the issue when they wrote the trial transcript. Direct quotes from Joan in a number of accounts say that she wore soldiers' clothing (of a type which had 'laces and points' which allowed her to firmly tie the pants and tunic together), partly as a defense against rape (which was especially a problem while in prison) as well as to discourage sexual advances while bedding down with her army in the field. This was the accepted way of doing it, and if it was thus being done out of necessity the Church itself granted permission (see medieval theological works such as 'Summa Theologica', 'Scito Vias Domini', and so on). Her accusers were distorting medieval theology when they said that it was 'always' an act of heresy. A number of eyewitnesses said that in the end her guards maneuvered her into a 'relapse' by leaving her nothing to wear but her old male clothing, and she had no choice but to put it back on after arguing with them 'until noon', according to one eyewitness. The author of this book, on the other hand, adopts the dishonest tactic of repeating the claims made by Joan's enemies on this subject while ignoring everything else. 2) Even English financial documents prove that it was the English who ran and paid for her trial, and the eyewitness accounts state that they convicted her out of revenge rather than from any genuine belief that she was a heretic. To see what her religious views actually were, you need to look at the eyewitness accounts as well as the letters which she dictated to scribes during her military campaigns, which bluntly declare her devotion to, quote, 'King Jesus, the King of Heaven', 'Saint Mary', and so forth. This is why there was a successful appeal of her case after the English were finally driven out of from Rouen near the end of the war, leading the Inquisition to overturn the verdict on July 7, 1456. 3) Similar comments can be made about many other subjects covered in the book, which bears the same relation to history as the 'National Enquirer' does to journalism.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2000

    not supposed to be about Joan of Arc

    This book wasn't supposed to be a history of Joan of Arc, it's a book about how both men and womyn have been cross dressing for centuries. The Portrait Gallery is by far the best part of this book. Amazing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2000

    Fiction, not history.

    As someone who has researched the original documents and is currently translating one of the Latin copies of Joan's trial transcript, I can only view this book as a farce. It's clear that the author has not bothered to study the documents about Joan of Arc's case (especially the retrial documents drawn up when the case was appealed and examined by the Inquisition in the 1450s, about 20 years after her death, resulting in a reversal of the verdict). According to the retrial witnesses Pierre Cusquel, Martin Ladvenu, Isambart de la Pierre, and Guillaume Manchon, Joan said that she wore male clothing as the standard 'lawful' defense against the attempted rape that she had endured, _not_ as a 'fashion preference' (i.e., the pants worn by men in that era could be fastened securely to the tunic, making it difficult for an attacker to pull them off, whereas a dress offered no such protection whatsoever), and she resumed male clothing after her abjuration because 'a great English lord had entered her cell and tried to rape her' (according to Martin Ladvenu). Another witness, Jean Massieu, added that her guards had switched her dress with male clothing in the night, and she reluctantly put on the male outfit after a long argument with the guards which 'went on until noon', according to Massieu. She indicated at many points that she would have rather worn a dress, had it not been for the circumstances she was in. These are the facts behind the matter, based on the medieval documents. Barnes and Noble carries a number of books by Regine Pernoud which contain extensive excerpts from both trials, presented with respect and scholarly accuracy. Leslie Feinberg's view, on the other hand, is merely another attempt to repeat the dishonest charges made against Joan of Arc by her political enemies.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2010

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