Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the July 24, 1997
issue of Workers World newspaper
Transgender author speaks in Berlin
By Deirdre Sinnott in Berlin
Author, transgender activist and Workers World Contributing Editor Leslie Feinberg spoke in Berlin July 5 as guest of the German lesbian archive the Spinnboden. Over 450 people crowded into an auditorium to hear Feinberg read from her novel "Stone Butch Blues" at the Art Academe or Akademie der Knste.
"Stone Butch Blues" has been selling well all over Germany and Switzerland. Selections were read from both the English and German versions.
Feinberg was here to take part in observations marking the 100th anniversary of the start of the German Homosexual Emancipation Movement. In 1897 the first gay-liberation organization--the Scientific Humanitarian Committee--was founded in Germany by Magnus Hirschfeld, who was a gay transgendered Jewish socialist.
The diverse audience included lesbians, gay men, intersexed people, bisexuals, transsexuals, female-to-male trans people and communists from the butch/femme tradition.
Indra Salooja from the Spinnboden opened the program. The archive has an impressive collection of information on lesbians and the lesbian movement from all over the world, built over the last 25 years.
Salooja said: "We invited Leslie because it is important to find out what else can be meant by lesbian or transgender. There are so many different ways to be, it's not just two sides of a coin.
"For me transgender reminds me of my own life. I am living between two cultures. I am Indian and German. I want to recognize all my parts. The two cultures come together in me. That's why I feel close to the trans issue. One shouldn't have to decide which you are. I don't want to lose any part of me."
Feinberg's opening was in Yiddish. The audience was visibly moved. Feinberg said s/he wanted to use Yiddish "in order to meet the audience on a bridge of language."
Dagmar Schadenberg, one of Feinberg's German publishers, said, "I've never heard Yiddish before but I understood every word Leslie was saying."
Andrea Krug, another of the publishers, said: "We are happy. This is the biggest event we have ever had and we're proud. The lesbian communities came together despite all the gaps between them. For the moment we all started thinking about issues again. I am happy that someone drew the connections between issues and has a communist analysis."
Krug said to Feinberg that after the Berlin wall came down, "the Left in the West lost their vision. But leftists and feminists must recognize the economic basis for their oppression. A lot of people were happy to hear about your socialist vision."
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