Trans Oral History Project
A City-Campus Partnership between the Center for Research in Feminist, Queer, and Transgender Studies, the William Way LGBT Center, and the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania
The Trans Oral History Project (TOHP) is a community engagement initiative that preserves and makes publicly accessible the stories of trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people. The project will begin by interviewing those who have meaningful connections to the city of Philadelphia. The project places an emphasis on stories that have traditionally not been heard, and it especially welcomes the contributions of trans elders. The goal of the TOHP is to conduct oral history interviews and make them widely available online through digital recordings and searchable transcripts.
The TOHP also seeks to honor the wide diversity of trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming lives. The project is invested in redressing how histories of gender expansion have been medicalized, commodified, and erased. To this end, no one will be told they are not trans enough to participate.
Interviewees, students, and other Penn community interviewers will work together to produce a co-owned archive of audio and/or video recordings that share gender-expansive experiences. The TOHP will also host listening sessions for participants who wish to share with their community but do not want their interview recorded and/or made publicly available.
Through a collaborative interview process, the TOHP will maintain and make accessible this archive of trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming stories. The project aims to foster lasting intergenerational bonds and community healing.
If you are interested in participating, please fill out this TOHP interest form.
Project Philosophies & Values
Community Connection & Empowerment
We aim to empower trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming individuals through the interviewing process and the preservation of their stories. We hope to foster intergenerational bonds as well as intercommunity dialogue.
We prioritize the preservation of history from those at the highest risk of erasure and exclusion in narratives about trans experience. We center the most marginalized within the trans and GNC community: elders, people of the global majority or BIPOC, disabled people, sex workers, and those who live in poverty. To create an accurate representation of trans history, the TOHP embraces the ever-changing language of trans and queer communities.
All interviewers participate in anti-violence training that will prepare them for the intimate and potentially triggering information shared in interviews. This includes conversations about positionality, trans history, trauma, and anti-racism.
Creative freedom is given to all participants regarding how and if the interview will be recorded and what topics are discussed.