Leslie Feinberg, who identified as an anti-racist white, working-class, secular Jewish, transgender, lesbian, female, revolutionary communist, died on Nov. 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, N.Y., with her partner and spouse of 22 years, Minnie Bruce Pratt, at her side. Her last words were: “Hasten the revolution! Remember me as a revolutionary communist.” From the obituary written by Minnie Bruce Pratt from the paper of the Worker’s World Party
At this time, we’re reminded of Lenin’s words about the appropriation and distortion of revolutionaries and of their legacies after death: “During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander. After their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say, and to hallow their names to a certain extent for the “consolation” of the oppressed classes and with the object of duping the latter, while at the same time robbing the revolutionary theory of its substance, blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgarizing it.”
On December 11th, members of the Proletarian Revolutionary Action Committee and the Proletarian Feminist Front- Toronto participated in a tribute event to the life of Leslie Feinberg. We read the following statement to reassert the revolutionary legacy of such an important proletarian leader, as well as to begin to chart a course for building revolutionary communism and trans liberation in Canada.
We are trans revolutionaries from the Proletarian Feminist Front Toronto. The Proletarian Feminist Front is a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist collective that believes that gender liberation is meaningless without the abolition of Capitalism. Likewise, we believe there can be no communism without liberation for women and trans people. To this end, we aim to recruit and train women and trans people as revolutionaries to take up leadership within mass organizations of the working class and within a revolutionary party.
We send you all revolutionary greetings on this occasion, and thank you all for allowing us to speak. We are here tonight because we take seriously comrade Leslie’s dying words, to remember hir as a revolutionary communist. We take this not as mere sentiment but instead as an urgent call to action. In the words of martyered labour hero Joe Hill, we are here not to mourn, we are here to organize.
We remember comrade Leslie’s commitment to the working class by building a united proletarian movement against capitalism. We aim to stand on the frontlines to protect proletarian neighbourhoods from gentrification and displacement. While boutique hotels, gay bars and fancy art gallerys may provide “safe space” for the queer ruling class, there is no safe space for us when we are ripped from our homes and thrown into the streets. As trans revolutionaries, we demand universal access to food, shelter, and trans specific healthcare. Our people by and large are very poor, and this is especially true for trans women and trans people from oppressed nationalities. Transphobia has excluded many of us from the formal job market, pushing us to the sidelines of society and into the reserve army of labour. However, we aren’t naive enough to believe that our poverty will end simply by liberal human rights legislation and employment equity schemes. For what point is there in being equal if it means that we are equally starving? It is only through the struggle for socialism that we believe we can achieve universal emancipation from the chains of exploitation and poverty.
We also remember comrade Leslie’s fierce commitment to international solidarity through hir work with the Cuban people. We aim to unite with LGBTQ people from around the world in the spirit and aims of proletarian internationalism.
We wish to unite with the New Democratic Movement of the Philippines, which has been on the front lines of queer liberation. Since 2005, the Communist Party of the Philippines and The New People’s Army has been performing same sex marriage for comrades in defiance of the reactionary Filipino state, and continues to struggle against cisgender and heterosexist chauvinism within it’s own ranks.. We want to take this opportunity to call for Justice for Jennifer Laude, a trans filipina who was murdered by a US marine, by repeating the call for a end to the US occupation of the Philipines. Occupying armies the world over exist to rape and kill proletarian and colonialized women- both transgender and cisgender. This is why we firmly believe that fighting against imperialism is key to trans liberation.
Likewise, we reject a liberal LGBTQ human rights narrative that attempts to gain support for inter imperialist rivalries. We are cannot unite with proletarian queers in Russia through reactionary patriotism that falsely posits Canada as a “safe humane liberal nation” in opposition to supposed foreign backwardsness. We reassert the Leninist ideals of revolutionary defeatism in the face of on going conflicts, and want to unite proletarians to bring the war home, turning this anger instead into struggle against our own ruling class oppressors.
Lastly, we would be remiss without also acknowledging the Canadian state as one which is settler-colonial. The genocide of indigenous people, and the crushing of two spirit cultural traditions was key to the creation of the Canadian state. We are inspired by the resurgence of two spirit cultural traditions as a powerful aspect of decolonization, however genocide against first nation’s people will continue as long as Canada exists as a capitalist, imperialist, settler-colonial state. Therefore, we stand in solidarity with all efforts for national self determination for indigenous people up to and including succession from the Canadian state. We believe that for trans proletarians and two spirit people, our interests are intertwined, and it’s only through the decimation of the Canadian bourgeois state that we can all be liberated.
We want to thank you all again for having us here tonight, we hope that many of you will choose to join us in the building of our revolutionary movement. As trans proletarians struggling in this oppressive exploitative society, we have nothing to loose but our chains. We have the world to win!