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Trans Stories, Spaces, and Cultural Production: Oral Histories

Below are links to several organizations currently running trans oral history recording projects. These oral histories are trans people in their own words and with their own voices. Because oral histories are often volunteer-driven, grassroots endeavors, they are powerful tools to combat trans erasure.

These are just a few of the many trans oral history projects under way today. Many of the younger and smaller projects don't have a central web page, but are based for the time being within social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram - if you are interested in contributing your time or stories, be sure to use these platforms as well as the resources here to seek out the activists and historians making these recordings! 

Image: Interviewees for the NYC Trans Oral History Project. Creative Commons, from the New York Public Library.

Image: Interviewees for the NYC Trans Oral History Project. Creative Commons, from the New York Public Library.

Online Oral History Resources

Image: Still from interview with Dee Dee Chamblee. Photo by Andrea Jenkins, February 2017.Tretter Transgender Oral History Project: Led by writer and trans activist Andrea Jenkins, the Transgender Oral History Project of the Upper Midwest has collected more than 100 hours of oral histories from 50 trans people so far, and it is still ongoing as of 2018. The project is a part of the Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies.

Image: Still from interview with Dee Dee Chamblee. Photo by Andrea Jenkins, February 2017.

Illustration of two people holding a sign that reads "Gender self-determination"Trans Oral History ProjectA community archive devoted to the collection, preservation and sharing of trans histories, organized collectively by New York City trans and gender-nonconforming people in collaboration with the New York Public Library. The project posts public, recorded interviews with trans New Yorkers, and also welcomes new contributions from anyone who identifies as trans / gender-nonconforming and as a sometime resident of New York City. All interviews are accessible to the public and part of the Creative Commons license for free and open use.  The collective operates in partnership with the New York Public Library community oral history project.

Image: "Queers Demand Gender Self-Determination. Boucher, T. 2017.

Image: Country Queers Founder Rachel Gerringer and her goose Melba. Rachel Gerringer, 2017.Country Queers: A multimedia oral history project documenting the diverse experiences of rural and small town LGBTQ+ folks in the U.S.A. Created by West Virginian Rachel Gerringer, this project documents the stories and lives of rural, small town, and country LGBTQ+ folks in the U.S. – across intersecting layers of identity such as race, class, age, ability, gender identity, and religion.

There is no tag specifically for transgender people in this archive, but it's still worth perusing, since many of the twenty queer people interviewed identify as trans or gender non-conforming. 

Image: Country Queers Founder Rachel Gerringer and her goose Melba. Rachel Gerringer, 2017.

U.S. Transgender Survey: This 2015 survey was conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality. While not directly comprised of oral histories, it takes almost 28,000 trans peoples' stories and compiles and compares aspects of their lives and experiences in the form of statistical reports. Data from the survey is available upon request.

Oral Histories Hub

Image: "Digital Collaboratory tape collection." Black-and-white photo of the spines of audiotapes. From Digital Collaboratory website. 2016.LGBTQ Digital Collaboratory's Queer Oral History HubThis meta-resource is a repository where you can find links to the growing number of smaller queer and trans oral history projects ongoing around the world. Based at the University of Toronto, it is run in collaboration with both the Digital Transgender Archive and the Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria. 

Image: "Digital Collaboratory tape collection." From Digital Collaboratory website. 2016.

Trans oral history practice: Background works