Stone Butch Blues

By Leslie Feinberg,

Book cover of Stone Butch Blues

Book description

Published in 1993, this brave, original novel is considered to be the finest account ever written of the complexities of a transgendered existence.

Woman or man? That’s the question that rages like a storm around Jess Goldberg, clouding her life and her identity. Growing up differently gendered in a blue--collar…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked Stone Butch Blues as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Leslie Feinberg’s story is a powerful response to the notion that simply discarding sexist gender expectations ought to be enough. Feinberg’s main character Jess was still a young adult when modern feminism exploded onto the scene in the 1970s but Jess isn’t merely androgynous or resisting sexist limitations. She’s butch.  

I read Stone Butch Blues in my 20s, while just a young pup of a butch myself. The story was a shock to the system, which both ripped my heart out and emboldened me. I love Feinberg’s brutally honest view of a truly revolutionary time in US History. While a work of fiction, Stone Butch Blues holds a mirror up to the US’s despicable underbelly. Some readers refuse to believe that the history shared in Stone Butch Blues ever happened, while others read it and think “Oh, look how far we have come,” without recognizing how far we still have…

I came out in Northampton, Massachusetts, dubbed the “Strange Town Where Men Aren’t Wanted” by The National Enquirer, where being straight was the minority. Though grappling with my own internalized homophobia, I was immediately embraced by the vibrant, dynamic, and supportive lesbian community there. I had it easy compared to Jess, the protagonist in this semi-biographical work. This haunting and heartbreaking narrative, as well as the tragic stories of far too many of my friends, opened my eyes to the emotional toll of homophobia that continues to plague so much of the world today. Stone Butch Blues…

This semi-autobiographical novel by a transgender activist gave me a whole new understanding about gender nonconformity. I thought realizing and coming out as a lesbian was difficult, but it was a piece of cake compared to what this individual, who didn't fit in with society as we know it, went through.

This powerful and intense novel is based on Leslie Feinberg’s life, growing up butch, lesbian, working-class, and Jewish in small-town New York in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, and later coming out as both transgender and a communist revolutionary. This book is an intimate look at gender, race, and class from someone who lived on the front lines of these struggles.

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