Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Sept. 5, 1996
issue of Workers World newspaper

Marxism, The Nation and Transgender Warriors

[In its Aug. 12/19 issue, the liberal weekly magazine The Nation published a review of Workers World Contributing Editor Leslie Feinberg's book "Transgender Warriors."

[Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to RuPaul. By Leslie Feinberg. Beacon. 212 pp. $27.50.] The Nation's review panned the book, ridiculed Feinberg's Marxist historical analysis, and baited her for belonging to Workers World Party.

[WW Managing Editor Shelley Ettinger responded with a letter to the editor. At this writing, Ettinger's letter has not appeared in The Nation. WW reprints it here:]

To the editor:

I'm a communist lesbian and, no doubt like others who support the struggle against transgender oppression, I'm puzzled by Jeanne Bergman's review of Leslie Feinberg's book "Transgender Warriors" (The Nation, August 12/19).

Bergman's attack on a work hailed everywhere else as a groundbreaking contribution to a newly emerging social movement is curious. Her red-baiting digs at Feinberg, one of that movement's leading lights, are disturbing.

And since this is the second Nation review panning a book on transgender by a transgender author-the first was about Kate Bornstein's book "Gender Outlaw"-readers are left wondering whether your publication will ever have anything positive to say about this important struggle.

Why bait Leslie Feinberg for belonging to Workers World Party? Leslie is one of the transgender liberation movement's fiercest fighters. WWP supports the movement wholeheartedly and is proud to number Leslie and other transgender people as comrades.

This socialist party is committed to the fight against capitalism, welcomes transgender people and recognizes them as an oppressed group. Can this be what Bergman objects to?

WWP is also proud to have published two pamphlets by Feinberg. Bergman means it as an insult when she calls the new book "a Workers World pamphlet between expensive cloth covers." I take it as a compliment.

After all, in our newspaper, books and pamphlets, WWP applies the Marxist method of class analysis to social questions. That's what Feinberg does in "Transgender Warriors."

This-the Marxist approach-seems to be Berg man's main difficulty, with both Feinberg and WWP.

She mocks Feinberg's references to Frederick Engels' "The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State." Marx and Engels contended that pre-class society was organized on a matriarchal basis. Modern scholarship has confirmed this.

We in WWP believe historical evidence of the matriarchy proves that the oppression of women, gays and transgender people is not inherent to humanity, that in fact this oppression is a creation of class society. We believe, therefore, that the best road to human liberation is the struggle for socialism.

That's the Marxist view. Obviously, Bergman doesn't subscribe to it.

So where does she think sex and gender oppression come from? How does she think we can get rid of it? She doesn't provide a clue in the review, whose main point is anti-communism.

For those who reject that as a cynical dead end, I invite you to check out Workers World. Join Leslie Feinberg and the rest of our comrades in the living struggle. Unite with workers and oppressed people of every nationality and community in a fight that won't end until the world is rid of racism, exploitation and all oppression.

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