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Transgender Studies: Literature in an Evolving Field (March 2022): Digital Resources

By Robert Ridinger

Digital Resources

Some of the archival collections and libraries created and maintained by the LGBT community include titles on trans subjects in their holdings, but trans-specific gender materials have been recognized as significant by established research archives dealing with gender and sexuality, such as the Kinsey Institute and the Labadie collection at the University of Michigan. The history of the various archives and organizations now available online is complicated, not least because they have morphed, intertwined, and overlapped over the last several decades. For example, the Kinsey Institute library holds the papers of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA), which was founded in 1978 to promote communication among health professionals who were involved in researching and treating gender identity disorders. HBIGDA issued the first Standards of Care for Gender Identity Disorders, and that entity has now changed its name to Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People, now in its seventh version. In 1997 HBIGDA inaugurated the International Journal of Transgenderism, which has now become International Journal of Transgender Health. And in 2006 HBIGDA changed its name to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) to eliminate the clinical term “gender dysphoria” and shift its emphasis from illness to health and wellness. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Accordingly the final section of this essay cites with only minimal edification the key resources (starting with those cited immediately above) available online. With the exception of the first, Transgender Archive, they are presented alphabetically below. Suffice to say, all are active at this writing and all are rich sources for information on transgender.

Transgender Archives: This website brings together the often-scattered primary sources on the transgender community and makes them available for global research. The largest such collection in the world, Transgender Archives was founded in 2007 at the University of Victoria library by Aaron Devor, who was introduced early on in this essay.1 Its statement of purpose is worth quoting: “We believe that the history of pioneering trans, nonbinary, Two-spirit, and other gender-diverse activists and the work they have done on behalf of their communities must be preserved. The Transgender Archives is actively acquiring documents, rare publications, and memorabilia of persons and organizations that have worked for the betterment of trans, nonbinary, Two-spirit, and other gender-diverse people.”

American Educational Gender Information Service (AEGIS): Available through Digital Transgender Archive (see below), AEGIS is a nonprofit organization focused on providing information on gender dysphoria. Providing referrals to physicians, support groups, attorneys, members of the clergy, and gender clinics is integral to the organization.

Digital Transgender Archive (DTA): Created to enable researchers to gain access to the widely scattered primary resources in the field of transgender studies, DTA works with sixty-nine international archival collections, libraries, and trans oral history and community projects in the United States, Canada, Spain, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, Germany, and Norway. It serves as a finding aid to both physical and online resources. The collection numbers more than 8,500 items.

FORGE: This national transgender antiviolence organization provides advocacy for aging transgender people as well as programming for survivors of violence and therapeutic professionals working with them.  With grant funding from the Office on Violence against Women, between 2011 and 2020 FORGE developed an online archive of technical assistance publications and webinars to help victim service providers better serve transgender and non-binary survivors of violence and assault.

FTM International: The female-to-male trans community was one of the first to take on the new online technology. The FTM website went live in 1986, and it remains active as of this writing.

National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE): Based in Washington, DC, NCTA was created in 2003 by trans activists to meet the need for an advocacy group in Washington.  In 2011 the NCTE joined with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to publish Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. It was the largest such study done to date, with more than 6,400 interviews forming its data set. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey has changed its name to the U.S. Trans Survey, and the 2022 survey is now available online at http://ustranssurvey.org/.

National Transgender Library and Archive (NTL&A): NTL&A started life as the personal files of early trans activist and organizer Dallas Denny. The archive tripled in size between 1990 and 1998, becoming so large that it was transferred to the University of Michigan. The NTL&A comprises books, periodicals, videotapes and film, artwork and photographs, personal papers and correspondence, and ephemera relating to all aspects of trans history. Many of the items in the NTL&A collection have cataloging records accessible via the University of Michigan online catalogue but have not been digitally processed as full text.

Transgender Community of Police and Sheriffs (TCOPS). Evolving from a Yahoo discussion group for transgender people working in all areas of law, TCOPS was created in 2002 and provides peer support. Among the resources offered on the website is “Community Q and A,” a valuable list of questions transgender persons frequently ask police on topics ranging from driver’s license gender to being arrested and advice for trans people on how to respond to police contact.

Transgender Law Center (TLC). Founded as a project of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and incorporated separately in 2004, TLC has developed into the largest national trans-led organization working for legal change and social justice. Its website provides access to reviews of selected cases on nine issues—family law, public accommodations, housing, youth, employment, immigration, prisons and policing, identity documents, and health—and to survey reports on anti-trans violence in three states—New York, Texas, and Louisiana—and in Puerto Rico.

Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLD&E): TLD&E focuses on legal assistance and advocates for change in the areas of employment, health care, education, and public accommodations. 


1.    In 2014, the chair in transgender studies at the University of Victoria and the University of Victoria Libraries jointly published The Transgender Archives: Foundations for the Future, by Aaron Devor, accessible at https://www.uvic.ca/transgenderarchives/collections/book/index.php