NYC Trans Oral History Project Panel at CLAGS

September 23, 2017

Kiara St. James, AJ Lewis, Nadia Awad and Michelle Esther O’Brien make up this panel on the participatory NYC Trans Oral History Project hosted at the NYPL. Speakers will discuss the role of story-telling and personal narrative in queer movements and survival, reflect on institutional politics of oral history and trans studies, trans historiography, and the need to change practices in oral history collection.

Speaker Bios

Kiara St. James has been a community organizer for some 20 years. She has been instrumental in changing shelter policies that were discriminatory towards the Trans community. Kiara has spoken on a panel hosted by the United Nations on marginalized communities, and for last 17 years has been meeting with legislators to discuss the importance of passing Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act, a bill that will enrich the lives of all New Yorkers through creating culturally affirming spaces. Kiara is the Founder of the New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG inc), an organization that is Trans-led and intent on creating new opportunities for the Trans community, and is currently the head of NYTAG Downstate. Kiara has contributed her oral history to NYC Trans Oral History Project.

Michelle Esther O’Brien works with the NYC Trans Oral History Project. She is a writing a dissertation at New York University on how changes in capitalism, industry and class politics shaped NYC LGBTQ and AIDS movements. She brings to that work years of organizing with AIDS advocacy, trans rights, and socialist movement struggle.

Nadia Awad is a visual artist and oral history enthusiast. Her work spans collage, painting, and video, and explores the relationship between memory and power. Selected exhibitions include: Iraqi Civilian Memorial Exhibition, Elizabeth Foundation Gallery, works gallery, flux factory and Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery. She has written about Palestinian cinema and video for New Inquiry and Camera Obscura (co-authored with Colleen Jankovic). Nadia Awad received 2015-2016 New York Community Trust Van Lier Fellowship, a BRIC Media Fellowship, and a residency at Smack Mellon Studio Program. Nadia conducts interviews with NYC Trans Oral History Project as a volunteer.

Abram J Lewis is a founder and co-coordinator of the NYC Trans Oral History Project, and a postdoctoral fellow in the Sexualities Project at Northwestern University. AJ’s teaching and research focuses on queer and trans activist history, with an emphasis on the politics of race, disability, capitalism, and religion. Some of his writing has appeared in Radical History Review, the Journal of the History of Sexuality, the Scholar & Feminist Online, and Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility.