Transgender project funded for phase 2

Transgender Oral History Project has completed 190 interviews

The Libraries has received $266,000 from Tawani Foundation to fund Phase 2 of the Tretter Transgender Oral History Project (TTOHP) — a project intended to empower transgender individuals to tell their story, while providing students, historians, and the public with a richer foundation of primary source material about the Transgender community.

TTOHP materials are housed in the Tretter Collection at the University of Minnesota’s Elmer L. Andersen Library. Tawani Foundation also provided the major funding for Phase 1 of TTOHP.

Thirty months into the three-year project, Oral Historian Andrea Jenkins has completed 190 interviews, on the way to completing the goal of 200, finish transcription, and produce an online exhibit.

According to Lisa Vecoli, Curator of the Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies, the home of the TTOHP, Phase 1 was targeted to the Upper Midwest and focused on identity. 

“How do you define yourself? When did you know? Who did you tell? What does that mean?” said Vecoli at an October 19 event where she announced the grant. “While there are always more stories to tell, we now have a solid base for Phase 1.”

Vecoli added that she and Jenkins are working on an online exhibit that will include 10-12 short, edited videos, as well as other supporting material to provide context to the personal narratives. Many of these shorter videos are included in the current exhibit at Elmer L. Andersen Library, In Their Own Words: The Tretter Transgender Oral History Project

Phase 2 to focus on community, political organizing

“Phase 2 will begin in 2018 and turn attention to community and political organizing on a national level,” Vecoli said, adding that one of the goals for Phase 2 is to add 100 interviews over two years from organizers and thought leaders across the country. “In this moment of tremendous attention and challenge — who is setting the agenda? Who is at the table? Who is missing? Where are the allies? What are the challenges and opportunities?”

Additional support for Phase 1 of the Tretter Transgender Oral History Project comes from Headwaters, Schochet Center, individual donors and community support and in-kind from support from the University of Minnesota. Vecoli said additional funds will be sought for Phase 2.

Venus DeMars performed at October 19 event

The official announcement of the Phase 2 grant was made at an October 19 event celebrating the near completion of Phase 1 and the opening of a new exhibit, In Their Own Words: The Tretter Transgender Oral History Project, at Andersen Library. The event featured vignettes from the project, artifacts, books, and documents from the Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies — and entertainment from community member and international recording artist Venus DeMars.

Watch a video of the entire program, including three songs by DeMars, by clicking on the video below. 

Diversity of Phase 1 Participants

      • Military Service: 15 participants
      • White: 66
      • African American: 39
      • Asian Pacific Islander: 9
      • Latinix: 20
      • Native American: 8
      • Bi-racial: 17
      • Age: 18-25 (22)
      • Age: 45 and up (65)
      • Youngest participant (18 years old)
      • Oldest participant (90 years old)

About Tawani Foundation

Tawani Foundation’s vision is to make a sustained and measurable difference for organizations and educational programs that highlight the role of the military in society, enrich knowledge, improve health and wellness, and promote scientific understanding – all with a common goal of making a positive, long-term impact on individuals, communities and the culture itself.

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