Devor Wilson – Question 4
Aaron Devor & Lara Wilson
4How is an archive’s radicality or radical potential affected by relationships with users, collaborators, communities, and/or other institutions, in your experience?
Professor of Sociology, Founder and Academic Director of the Transgender Archives – University of Victoria
Director of Special Collections and University Archivist – University of Victoria
¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 The Transgender Archives exist to serve trans* communities first and foremost. We rely on community members to provide materials for our collections, and for some of our financial needs. We need community involvement to assist us with interpretations of the materials that we hold in trust for trans* communities. The goodwill of trans* communities is essential to our success. We strive to earn that goodwill by remaining responsive to the needs and interests of trans* communities.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 A radical archives is exquisitely sensitive to the opinions of their constituent communities. Being part of an established mainstream institution means that we are always vulnerable to becoming complacent and losing sight of the realities for most trans* people. It also means that trans* community members have reason to question our commitment to the more radical elements of trans* communities. Will we allow our privileged positions as people with well-paid, secure, and prestigious jobs to co-opt the radical potential in what we do? If we fail to live up to our potential to fairly, accurately, and, eventually, comprehensively represent the realities of trans* people’s experiences, trans* people will withdraw their moral support and we will become a barrier to rather than a support for the preservation of trans* heritage. To keep us on track, we strive to maintain strong and open lines of communications with trans* communities. Founder and Academic Director Aaron Devor is a transman who has been involved with trans* communities for over thirty years. His connections to community are an important conduit.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 One of the ways that we stay in touch with community directions is through our sponsorship of the biennial Moving Trans* History Forward Conferences, which bring together a wide range of interested parties: trans* people of all ages, including a generous sprinkling of trans* elders, trans* community activists, private collectors of trans* materials, people involved with LGBTQ+ archival collections and those who wish to become involved with them, community-based scholars and artists, SOFFAs (Significant Others, Family, Friends, Allies) of trans* people, and faculty and students interested in the history of trans* activism and research. We attempt to make our conferences more accessible by providing scholarships to assist with the costs of registration, travel, accommodation, and food.