Study of transgender activism aims to create safe, more just world

Despite the presence of trans* models in major glossy magazines and new school policies on gender identity, not enough is known about the history of early advocates. From March 21-23, an international gathering of people working to retrieve and preserve the stories and records of trans* pioneers of the early 1960s and beyond will take place at the University of Victoria.

UVic is home to the largest Transgender Archives in the world. The material represents 17 countries and a century of activism and research. If it were lined up cover to cover along one long shelf, this material would stretch the length of a football field.

“The pioneers of the transgender rights movement are rapidly coming to the ends of their careers,” says UVic sociologist Dr. Aaron Devor, founder and academic director of this archival collection. “We need to better understand this history and build on it to create a safer and more just world.” Trans* people make up 0.5 to one per cent of the population yet remain among the most discriminated-against people in the world. They are four times more likely to live in poverty and more than 40 per cent have attempted suicide.

Moving Trans* History Forward is a three-day symposium on transgender research and activism. It includes keynote speakers, panel presentations and workshops, a film screening of TRANS: The Movie and art exhibitions, and will bring together scholars, activists, allies, educators and community members including:

  • Colonel Jennifer Pritzker, a US philanthropist, for the opening address, "Why a Private Museum/Library?" at the Friday night reception at UVic’s downtown art gallery – March 21;
  • Dr. Viviane Namaste of Concordia University on "Oral History, Archives, and Invisible Labour of Trans* Women in Montréal" – March 22;
  • Dr. Susan Stryker of the University of Arizona on "Trans* Activism and Archiving in the US: History, Objects, Methods” – March 22; and
  • Community activist Dallas Denny on "Preserving Trans* History: A Short History and Suggestions for the Future" – March 23.

Moving Trans* History Forward is funded in part by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and presented in partnership with UVic Libraries. Registration is open.

For more information or to register, please visit:

Follow on Twitter: @transarchives #MTHF14
On Facebook: /UvicTransArchives

*For the definition of trans* by GATE-Global Action for Trans* Equality, go to the above website.

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Media contacts

Susan Henderson (UVic Libraries Communications) at 250-853-3612 or

Tara Sharpe (University Communications + Marketing) at 250-721-6248 or

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Keywords: transgender, human rights, gender

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