Interview of Octavia Kohner

Octavia Leona Kohner was active in the successful unionization campaign at Babeland, a NYC sex toy shop. Here, she recounts her upbringing in a working-class family in Staten Island, and describes social isolation, friendships, and sexual encounters during adolescence. She relates her experience coming out as a trans woman while attending Hunter College, and her struggle with depression. She also discusses her own political journey, participating in advocacy and activism during high school and college, listening and learning at Occupy Wall Street, and her affiliation with anarchism. She shares stories of organizing at Babeland, recounting workplace grievances, anti-union efforts by management, the bargaining process, and details of their first contract. She places the victory by Babeland workers in the context of the broader labor movement.

Date of Interview:

March 17, 2017

Location of Interview:

NYU Department of Sociology

Place of birth:

Canarsie, Brooklyn, New York


She / Her, They / Them

Interviewed by

Michelle Esther O’Brien

Summary by

Justine Ambrose