By Emma Lazarus
Stone Butch Blues is a freaking awesome book. It changed how I think of Gender vs Orientation vs Sexuality vs Presentation. This free download is an amazing gift from Leslie Feinberg and her partner, the poet Minnie Bruce Pratt. Please consider checking out the rest of hir website and works. Below is from the homepage on Feinberg’s site.
Order an at-cost print edition through Lulu.com.
About The New Edition
Leslie Feinberg worked up to a few days before hir death to ready the 20th anniversary Author’s Edition of Stone Butch Blues, to make it available to all, for free. This action was part of hir entire life work as a communist to “change the world” in the struggle for justice and liberation from oppression.
This Author’s Edition of Stone Butch Blues is dedicated to CeCe McDonald, a young Minneapolis (trans)woman of color organizer and activist sent to prison for defending herself against a white neo-Nazi attacker.
“This Is What Solidarity Looks Like” is a slideshow Feinberg developed with the help of scores of activist photographers, in order to document the breadth of the global organizing campaign to free CeCe McDonald.
Stone Butch Blues, Leslie Feinberg’s 1993 first novel, is widely considered in and outside the U.S. to be a groundbreaking work about the complexities of gender. Feinberg was the first theorist to advance a Marxist concept of “transgender liberation.” Sold by the hundreds of thousands of copies and also passed from hand-to-hand inside prisons, Stone Butch Blues has been translated into Chinese, Dutch, German, Italian, Slovenian, Turkish, and Hebrew (with hir earnings from that edition going to ASWAT Palestinian Gay Women). The novel was winner of the 1994 American Library Association Stonewall Book Award and a 1994 Lambda Literary Award.
Feinberg commented on Stone Butch Blues in hir Author’s Note to the 2003 edition:
“Like my own life, this novel defies easy classification. If you found Stone Butch Blues in a bookstore or library, what category was it in? Lesbian fiction? Gender studies? Like the germinal novel The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe/John Hall, this book is a lesbian novel and a transgender novel—making ‘trans’ genre a verb, as well as an adjective…
“People who have lived very different lives have generously related to me the similarities they recognized in these pages with their own struggles—the taste of bile; the inferno of rage—transsexual men and women, heterosexual cross-dressers and bearded females, intersexual and androgynous people, bi-gender and tri-gender individuals, and many other exquisitely defined and expressed identities.”
In hir 2014 Author’s Note to the 20th anniversary Author’s Edition, Feinberg reflects that language usage had changed in naming the sex and gender spectrum zie/she had so eloquently described in 2003:
“The use of the word ‘transgender’ has changed over the two decades since I wrote Stone Butch Blues. Since that time, the term ‘gender’ has increasingly been used to mean the sexes, rather than gender expressions. This novel argues otherwise.
“I have been isolated by illness from discussions about language for more than half a decade.
So I can only note that, like planes, trains and automobiles, the same technological vehicles of hormones and surgeries take people on different journeys in their lives—depending on whether their oppression/s is/are based on sex/es, self/gender expressions, sexualities, nationalities, immigration status, health and/or dis/abilities, and/or economic exploitation of their labor.”
Illness and then hir death in 2014 kept hir from a further task for the Author’s Edition:
“I had hoped to write an introduction to place this novel within its social and historical context, the last half of the 20th century. Context is everything in politics, and Stone Butch Blues is a highly political polemic, rooted in its era, and written by a white communist grass-roots organizer.”
But hir earlier words still resonate with the meaning of Stone Butch Blues for old and new generations of readers:
“[With] this novel I planted a flag: Here I am—does anyone else want to discuss these important issues? I wrote it, not as an expression of individual ‘high’ art, but as a working-class organizer mimeographs a leaflet—a call to action….
“I am typing these words as June 2003 surges with Pride. What year is it now, as you read them? What has been won; what has been lost? I can’t see from here; I can’t predict. But I know this: You are experiencing the impact of what we in the movement take a stand on and fight for today. The present and past are the trajectory of the future. But the arc of history does not bend towards justice automatically—as the great Abolitionist Frederick Douglass observed, without struggle there is no progress….
“That’s what the characters in Stone Butch Blues fought for. The last chapter of this saga of struggle has not yet been written.”
Stone Butch Blues has probably touched your life even if you haven’t read it yet.—Alison Bechdel, creator of Dykes to Watch Out For and Fun HomeStone Butch Blues is a powerful novel written by a founder of the contemporary transgender movement.—Susan Stryker, former executive director, GLBT Historical Society
[Feinberg is] a historian, an activist, a relentless bridge-builder. The one whose 1993 novel, Stone Butch Blues, gave the word transgender legs.—Village Voice
Stone Butch Blues is a gift from one of the most inspiring and revolutionary voices of our time.͟—Emanuel Xavier, author of Americano
My friend Coral turns 42 today. She decided to have herself a Douglas Adams/Hitchhiker’s Guide birthday party, and, among other things, invited people to recite Vogon Poetry if they’d like.
“What, exactly, is Vogon Poetry?”, you may ask. And if you are asking, then you obviously have not read that Douglas Adams classic, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Wherein we learn that Vogon Poetry is the third worst poetry in the universe. The book is kind enough to give us an example.
Oh freddled gruntbuggly,
Thy micturations are to me
As plurdled gabbleblotchits
On a lurgid bee.
Groop, I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes
And hooptiously drangle me
With crinkly bindlewurdles,
Or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon,
See if I don’t
Click through for slightly more detail here.
People all over the world celebrate Hitchhiker’s Guide and its author. As a result, you’ll find Vogon Poetry translated into all manner of Earth languages. More examples of Vogon Poetry in English here and here. There is also a Vogon Poetry generator of sorts. Here’s one it came up with for me.
vogon poetry bookpoetry books for middle schoolstretch ear infectionnatural remedyfor a broken heartexplain escape the fatedeliver night season 3start 4 episode 1ask episode 16 the proton in chemistrythe proton in chemistrya mole of something is an amount thatis anxiety considered a disabilityin reading is sometimes referred to asselecting official for considerationemploy official forms of idser and estar
weirs without wry kiwi working kiwi sis, quip
Werner welkin lower kills kills onto jute
wreak wrap town – swift Sitka balm woke
lend skew with papaw mewls
weep so wrong
twang size, we null my kop mist
bison query grope
kith up bald shove – ah – ashen aye devisal parsifal waiver!
setback, fake snow digests silken set lines, as far then erasing
I actually kinda like it. You know, in a gibberishy-poem kind of way. And if you found this entertaining, then you might like Lewis Carroll’s poetry too. Share some of
your best Vogon poems!
Happy birthday, Coral!
Sometimes it takes more than just talking to get your ideas and feelings out. Some people make music, some people draw or paint or sculpt. Poetry is a way to use your words to make pictures in other people’s heads. Juan Felipe Herrera is a former US Poet Laureate (2015-2017)