Celebrating the Launch of Trans Pathfinder

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[Nick stands in front of a CLGA banner speaking to the crowd"

Nicholas Matte speaks to the crowd

On Sunday September 20th the LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives hosted an exciting and groundbreaking event: Trans* Histories at the CLGA.  This was a dual celebration launching the Rupert Raj Collection and the Trans Pathfinder document, both of which have been years in the making. Check out more about Rupert Raj and his wonderful collection at clga.ca

The Trans Pathfinder was produced as part of the Collaboratory’s commitment to making trans historical materials more widely accessible and is a guide to the trans-/* materials that can be found at the CLGA. This guide, created by Dr. Nicholas Matte with assistance from Haley O’Shaughnessy, Al Stanton-Hagan, Alan Miller and K.J. Rawson is a preliminary efforts to make the approximately 1500 archival items related to trans history at the CLGA accessible to researchers. It is the first time that systematic attempt has been made to identify and record these documents in the archive and to provide interested researchers with a starting point.

The event, coordinated by CLGA Volunteer Coordinator Jade Pichette, was a huge success with over 70 people in attendance. The wonderfully diverse crowd included members of multiple communities, and included trans activist Susan Gapka and Queen’s University Professor Dr. Trish Salah, both of whom have produced historically-significant work featured in the collections. We also took time to recognize those who were not able to join us, especially Kyle Scanlon, Xanthra Phillippa Mackay, and all those trans people who have died in the course of their activism and lives. Dr. Elspeth Brown, Primary Investigator of the Collaboratory research project, welcomed the crowd and spoke about her work producing the finding aid for Rupert’s collection. Both Rupert and Nick spoke to the gathered crowd about the importance of the materials that could be found in the archives and of preserving trans* histories more broadly. Both also pointed towards the ongoing efforts at the CLGA to overcome the ciscentrisim, transphobia and other forms of marginalization that have had such a broad effect on the preservation of trans historical records and on trans people and communities, and looked forward to more being done.

Copies of the Trans Pathfinder document and the finding guide for the Rupert Raj collection were publicly available for attendees to peruse for the first time, alongside a display case of trans archival materials (assemble by Jade Pichette), and video stations where attendees could watch and listen to two trans-themes films in the CLGA’s collections, Rupert Remembers (Xanthra Mckay, 2000) and Latin Queens: the Unfinished Story of Our Lives (Anton Wagner, 1999).