The Tretter Transgender Oral History Project

The Tretter Transgender Oral History Project (TTOHP) is committed to collecting, preserving, and making available oral histories of gender transgression, broadly understood through a trans framework.

Phase 1 (2015 to 2018)

The first phase of the Tretter Transgender Oral History Project was led by poet and activist Andrea Jenkins—who became the first Black transgender woman to serve in office in the US after she was elected, in 2017, to the Minneapolis City Council. This phase of the project sought to document the life stories and experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people, with a focus on people living in the upper Midwest as well as those often excluded from the historical record, including trans people of color and trans elders.

Andrea Jenkins

Andrea Jenkins is a writer, performance artist, poet, and transgender activist. She is the first African American openly trans woman to be elected to office in the United States. Jenkins worked as a staff member on the Minneapolis City Council for 12 years before becoming the Oral Historian for the Transgender Oral History Project. Andrea holds a Masters Degree in Community Development from Southern New Hampshire University and MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University. She is a nationally and internationally recognized writer and artist, a 2011 Bush Fellow to advance the work of transgender inclusion, and the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships.

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Phase 2 (2019 to 2021)

The second phase of the Tretter Transgender Oral History Project is led by trans studies scholar Myrl Beam. This phase of work seeks to document histories of trans activist movements and politics in the US, and is grounded in the belief that trans movements for justice are about more than rights: they are about survival, and about creating a new, more fabulous, more livable, and more expansive world––one not structured by racialized gender norms. The oral histories collected during this phase document the transformative power of trans movements, and the stories of trans activists who are building them.

Myrl Beam

Myrl Beam is an Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, currently serving as the Fellow in Oral History at the Tretter Transgender Oral History Project. His work focuses on queer and trans social movement, racialized projects of inclusion and normativity, and the affective economies of neoliberal capitalism. Beam received his PhD in American Studies from the University of Minnesota in 2014. He is the author of Gay, Inc.: The Nonprofitization of Queer Politics (University of Minnesota Press, 2018). In addition to his scholarly work, Beam is active in queer and trans leftist movements, specifically around issues of prison abolition, homelessness, and supporting the leadership of trans youth in movements for justice.

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The Transgender Oral History Project is funded in large part by a grant from Tawani Foundation. The project has also received support from a Headwaters Foundation for Justice Community Innovation Grant, from the Humanities Innovation Lab at the Minnesota Humanities Center, and from individual donors.

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