Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014: Leslie Feinberg 1949-2014

“Remember me as a revolutionary communist.”

photo credit: Leslie Feinberg
Self-portrait in setting sun

Leslie Feinberg, who identified as an anti-racist white, working-class, secular Jewish, transgender, lesbian, female, revolutionary communist, died on November 15. She succumbed to complications from multiple tick-borne co-infections, including Lyme disease, babeisiosis, and protomyxzoa rheumatica, after decades of illness.

She died at home in Syracuse, NY, with her partner and spouse of 22 years, Minnie Bruce Pratt, at her side. Her last words were: “Remember me as a revolutionary communist.”

Feinberg was the first theorist to advance a Marxist concept of “transgender liberation,” and her work impacted popular culture, academic research, and political organizing.

Her historical and theoretical writing has been widely anthologized and taught in the U.S. and international academic circles. Her impact on mass culture was primarily through her 1993 first novel, Stone Butch Blues, widely considered in and outside the U.S. as a groundbreaking work about the complexities of gender. Sold by the hundreds of thousands of copies and also passed from hand-to-hand inside prisons, the novel has been translated into Chinese, Dutch, German, Italian, Slovenian, Turkish, and Hebrew (with her earnings from that edition going to ASWAT Palestinian Gay Women).

In a statement at the end of her life, she said 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” and added that she believed in the right of self-determination of oppressed individuals, communities, groups, and nations.

She preferred to use the pronouns she/zie and her/hir for herself, but also said: “I care which pronoun is used, but people have been disrespectful to me with the wrong pronoun and respectful with the right one. It matters whether someone is using the pronoun as a bigot, or if they are trying to demonstrate respect.”

Feinberg was born September 1, 1949, in Kansas City, Missouri, and raised in Buffalo, NY, in a working-class Jewish family. At age 14, she began supporting herself by working in the display sign shop of a local department store, and eventually stopped going to her high school classes, though officially she received her diploma. It was during this time that she entered the social life of the Buffalo gay bars. She moved out of a biological family hostile to her sexuality and gender expression, and to the end of her life carried legal documents that made clear they were not her family.

Discrimination against her as a transgender person made it impossible for her to get steady work. She earned her living for most of her life through a series of low-wage temp jobs, including working in a PVC pipe factory and a book bindery, cleaning out ship cargo holds and washing dishes, serving an ASL interpreter, and doing medical data inputting.

In her early twenties Feinberg met Workers World Party at a demonstration for Palestinian land rights and self-determination. She soon joined WWP through its founding Buffalo branch.

After moving to New York City, she participated in numerous mass organizing campaigns by the Party over the years, including many anti-war, pro-labor rallies. In 1983-1984 she embarked on a national tour about AIDS as a denied epidemic. She was a key organizer in the December 1974 March Against Racism in Boston, a campaign against white supremacist attacks on African-American adults and schoolchildren in the city. Feinberg led a group of ten lesbian-identified people, including several from South Boston, on an all-night “paste up” of South Boston, covering every visible racist epithet.

Feinberg was one of the organizers of the 1988 mobilization in Atlanta that re-routed the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan as they tried to march down Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave., on MLK Day. When anti-abortion groups descended on Buffalo in 1992 and again in 1998-1999 with the murder there of Dr. Barnard Slepian, Feinberg returned to work with Buffalo United for Choice and its Rainbow Peacekeepers, which organized community self-defense for local LGBTQ+ bars and clubs as well as the women’s clinic.

A WW journalist since 1974, Feinberg was the editor of the Political Prisoners page of Workers World newspaper for 15 years, and became a managing editor in 1995. She was a member of the National Committee of the Party.

From 2004-2008 Feinberg's writing on the links between socialism and LGBT history, "Lavender & Red," ran as a 120-part series in Workers World newspaper. Her most recent book, Rainbow Solidarity in Defense of Cuba, was an edited selection of that series.

Feinberg authored two other non-fiction books, Transgender Warriors: Making History and Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue, as well as a second novel, Drag King Dreams.

Feinberg was a member of the National Writers Union, Local 1981, and of Pride at Work, an AFL-CIO constituency group. She received an honorary doctorate from the Starr King School for the Ministry for her transgender and social justice work, and was the recipient of numerous other awards, including the Lambda Literary Award and the American Library Association Gay and Lesbian Book Award.

During a period when diseases would not allow her to read, write, or talk, Feinberg continued to communicate through art. Picking up a camera for the first time, she posted thousands of pictures on Flickr, including “The Screened-In Series,” a disability-art class-conscious documentary of her Hawley-Green neighborhood photographed entirely from behind the windows of her apartment.

Diagnosed with Lyme and multiple tick-borne co-infections in 2008, Feinberg was infected first in the early 1970s when little was known about the diseases. She had received treatment for these only within the last six years. She said, “My experience in ILADS care offers great hope to desperately-ill people who are in earlier stages of tick-borne diseases.”

She attributed her catastrophic health crisis to “bigotry, prejudice and lack of science”—active prejudice toward her transgender identity that made access to health care exceedingly difficult, and lack of science in limits placed by mainstream medical authorities on information, treatment, and research about Lyme and its co-infections. She blogged online about these issues in “Casualty of an Undeclared War.”

At the time of her death she was preparing a 20th anniversary edition of Stone Butch Blues. She worked up to within a few days of her death to prepare the edition for free access, reading, and download from on-line. In addition to the text of the novel, the on-line edition will contain a slideshow, “This Is What Solidarity Looks Like,” documenting the breadth of the organizing campaign to free CeCe McDonald, a young Minneapolis (trans)woman organizer and activist sent to prison for defending herself against a white neo-Nazi attacker. The new edition is dedicated to McDonald. A devoted group of friends are continuing to work to post Feinberg’s final writing and art online at

Feinberg’s spouse, Minnie Bruce Pratt, an activist and poet, is the author of Crime Against Nature, about loss of custody of her sons as a lesbian mother. Feinberg and Pratt met in 1992 when Feinberg presented a slideshow on her transgender research in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the local Workers World branch. After a long-distance courtship, they made their home for many years in Jersey City, NJ, where, to protect their relationship, the couple domestic-partnered in 2004 and civil-unioned in 2006. They also married in a civil ceremony in Massachusetts and in New York State in 2011.

Feinberg stressed that state authorities had no right to assign who were or were not her loved ones but rather that she would define her chosen family, citing Marx who said that the exchange value of love is — love.

Feinberg is survived by Pratt and an extended family of choice, as well as many friends, activists, and comrades around the world in struggle against oppression and for liberation.

Written by Leslie Feinberg and Minnie Bruce Pratt. Published in the Advocate.

Get MP3 of this segment. 4:31 min.

Also on today's show:

Monday, November 24, 2014: TELL NO LIES

"Fiction is the truest truth."

Women's Magazine talks with author Barbara Rhine about her new novel, TELL NO LIES.  It's the story of a Black militant on the run, a Berkeley feminist and a UFW organizer in the midst of planning the largest farm worker march in the country's history.

TELL NO LIES is available at local bookstores, on-line, and at on paper and for electronic readers.

or Get MP3,

Also on today's show:

Monday, November 24, 2014: Women In Black

Silent or not, Women in Black is a Powerful Voice!

International Women's Day, March 8, 2002 [Photo by Donna A. Korones]
Next we meet members of the 25-year-old international peace movement, Women In Black. Every month women in 150 cities around the world stand on various street corners in a worldwide network for peace and justice. Founded in 1988 by Jewish Israeli women to protest the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Women in Black has gelled, migrated, and mutated into an international voice. Listen to women from the Bay Area tell their stories about standing together every month for 25 years.

Join the vigils:
Berkeley Women in Black every Friday from noon to 1 at Bancroft and Telegraph
San Francisco Women in Black - 2nd Fridays from 5:15 to 6:15 PM at Market and Montgomery
Bay Area Women in Black every Saturday from noon to 1 in front of the Grand Lake Theater

Come march with Bay Area Women in Black on Black Friday!

We hope to see many of you on Black Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in San Francisco! Meet at 11:45 at the Powell St. BART station for a march to Union Square. Silent vigil there. Theme will be "Who Profits from our Holiday Purchases" and will focus on BDS. Signs will be provided + bring your own as well. Let us know if you can wear a puppet. Wear black!

Listen now or Get MP3.

Listen to entire show. 59:50 min.

Also on today's show:
Leslie Feinberg

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

November 17, 2014: Dhaya and Karinda Take on the World

Stand Up Sit Down

Preeti Shekar sits down with comics Dhaya Lakshminarayanan and Karinda Dobbins to talk about their upcoming show, Stand Up Sit Down.

Socio-political comedians Karinda Dobbins and Dhaya Lakshminarayanan present the third “Stand Up Sit Down,” a daring new show with innovative comedians and special guest Chinaka Hodge on November 21st at 8PM at La Peña Cultural Center. Also featured is standup comic Matt Lieb.

November 17, 2014: Whole Foods Workers in For the Fight

Workers and supporters at November 6th rally

We'll also talk with three of the women involved in the unionization campaign at the SOMA Whole Foods. The grocery chain offers a pre-cooked organic turkey dinner for 8 for $160. CEO John Mackey claims that Whole Foods has the highest profits as a percentage of sales of the Fortune 500 businesses but their employees are still paid under market wages.

Two weeks ago workers and supporters in San Francisco approached the south of Market Whole Foods to demand raises and the right to unionize with the IWW. Here is their story of what happened on November 6th.

For more information and to support the workers of Whole Foods go to their website at Whole Foods Market Workers Unite.

Listen now or get MP3. 17:37 min.

Click here to listen to entire show. 59:50 min.

Also on today's show:
Radical Feminism and Sustainability
Dhaya and Karinda Take on the World

November 17, 2014: Radical Feminism and Sustainability

Earth at Risk 2014 Conference November 22nd and 23rd

This week on Women's Magazine, we hear from radical feminist Saba Malik of the Fertile Ground Institute, an organizer of Earth At Risk, a conference on sustainability and social justice, along with aboriginal women's rights activist Cherry Smiley and anti-trafficking and economic justice organizer Yuly Chan.  Yuly and Cherry will both be speaking on the Confronting Misogyny panel at Earth At Risk next Sunday. They talk about the interrelationship of rape culture, prostitution, environmental destruction, capitalism, land rights and patriarchy.

Earth at Risk Conference is in San Francisco at the Palace of Fine Arts.

For tickets go to:
For event schedule go to:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014: Black Women Surviving Social Trauma

Today's program begins a new format for Women's Magazine. Once a month new hosts Vylma V and Lisa Marie Rollins will bring us voices from global women of color and multiple diasporas. At the end our live show the phone lines will open for callers to share their knowledge, work and stories.

Vylma V and Lisa Marie Rollins

Surviving Global Social Trauma

In the last 25 years we have begun recognize that the experiences of war can cause PTSD.  But feminists and activists have long recognized that there is another kind of war occurring in the U.S upon women, people of color, activists and poor people by our unhealthy society, which causes social trauma for all but especially for those in targeted groups.  This Monday on KPFA's Women's Magazine we talk to two African American women about how they have been affected in their lives and bodies by the racism, sexism, homophobia and imperialism of our society and how they have found ways to heal.  
Nell Myhand is a Berkeley based organizer, author and speaker whose work brings people together across age, race, class and other differences forming alliances to create powerful, effective solutions to common problems that leave no one out and no one behind. She is writing children’s books that highlight solidarity and collective action for social justice towards creating the other world we know is possible.

Cara Page is a Black queer feminist from a long ancestral legacy of organizers and cultural workers. Cara works on Queer and trans liberation, reproductive justice and racial and economic justice and is currently the Executive Director of the Audre Lorde Project in NYC.