Trans Activism Oral History Project

This is an oral history project begun in academic year 2019-2020. The lead interviewer has been Dr. Evan Taylor, and the main collaborators have been the Transgender Archives (Dr. Aaron Devor, Director) and The ArQuives Canada’s LGBTQ2+ Archive, Toronto. Eli Holliday, MI student at the iSchool, University of Toronto, has been the Project RA. In March, 2020 we have been joined by co-applicant Dr. Chase Joynt, filmmaker. We donated the oral histories to The ArQuives and the the Transgender Archives in 2020.

We are currently in the process of archiving the interviews at The ArQuives and at the Transgender Archives, and providing access to the interviews and to short clips that focus on specific aspects.

Interviewees: Aaron Devor, barbara findlay, Ben Murray, Ben Power Alwin, Dale Altrows, Dallas Denny, David Harrison, Deirdre McCloskey, Diana LaMonte, Rev. Moonhawk “Hawk” River Stone, Jamison Green, Joanna Clark, Jude Patton, Kimberly Nixon, Lin Fraser, Lynn Conway, Marsha Botzer, Max Valerio, Miqqi Alicia Gilbert/Michael A. Gilbert, Nicki Ward, Yvonne Cook-Riley. Of our 22 narrators, 14 have agreed to have their interviews available online. We have uploaded 3 of these interviews to Vimeo in full, which you can access via the links below. Of these 14 narrators who have agreed to share their stories on line, we’ve made 6 short clips, which we share with you below.

Marsha Botzer – February 19th, 2020

Marsha Botzer lives in Seattle, WA, USA. At the age of 73, Botzer has served the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and progressive communities for over 41 years, including her work with the Ingersoll Gender Centre, as a founding member of Equality Washington, and on boards of Pride Foundation, Safe Schools, Lambert House, Seattle Counseling Service and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

Joanna Clark – December 30th, 2019

Joanna Clark (USA), formerly Sister Mary Elizabeth, is an “81 and a half” year-old trans woman and military veteran. She successfully advocated for the right to change her birth certificate gender in the legislature of the United States in the 1970s. She has since worked in various arenas of LGBTQ activism, including starting the HIV educational website AEGIS in the 1980s, co-founding the Janus Information Facility, and performing legal advocacy work for incarcerated trans people with the ACLU.

Lynn Conway – February 4th, 2020

Lynn Conway (USA) is a groundbreaking computer scientist, electrical engineer, inventor, Professor Emeritus and former Associate Dean of Engineering at the University of Michigan. Her innovations during the 1960s and 70’s at IBM (from which she was wrongfully terminated for her transition) and the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) have impacted chip design worldwide, and she is an author of the landmark textbook on microchip engineering. In 1998, her website became a beacon of hope for transgender people world-wide. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering by the University of Victoria in 2016.

Lin Fraser – February 7th, 2020

Watch the full interview: Part 1 & Part 2

Dr. Lin Fraser is a cisgender psychotherapist living and practicing in San Francisco, CA, USA, where she has been working with trans clients for over 35 years. In addition to her clinical practice, she has an international reputation as a leading expert in transgender health. She has recently served as the President of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) and is on the editorial board of the International Journal of Transgenderism.

Jude Patton – December 19, 2019

Jude Patton LMHC, LMFT, PA-C, is a 79-year-old out and proud trans man who currently works as a Physician’s Assistant. Patton has provided medical and counseling services for LGBTI folks in southern California and in northwestern Washington state for the past 41 years. As a trailblazer in advocacy and education on trans health, Patton started the newsletter Renaissance (later Renaissance News & Views) and the organization J2CP with Joanna Clark.

Ben Power Alwin – February 18th, 2020

Ben Power Alwin is the President, Founder, and Executive Director of the Sexual Minorities Educational Foundation, Inc. For 40 years, he has been Curator of the Sexual Minorities Archives, a 45-year-old national collection of LGBTQ literature, history, and art in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Alwin founded the East Coast FTM Group in 1992, the first-ever support group for trans men in the New England region. He has lectured on transgender issues at the Five Colleges in western Massachusetts; and at Syracuse University, University of Connecticut, Western New England University, and Yale University, among others.

Kimberly Nixon – June 29th, 2020

Kimberly Nixon is a 62-year-old pilot born on unceded Coast Salish territories in New Westminster, BC. She has worked as a pilot since the age of 15, flying for government and commercial airlines. In 1995, Nixon filed a Human Rights Complaint against Vancouver Rape Relief – an organization that denied her desire to volunteer based on her status as a trans woman. Her case established in law that discrimination on the basis of being trans is protected under the Human Rights Code, long before Canadian laws were changed to reflect this.