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
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 subversionshe 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.