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Trans Trans

Friday, May 27, 2016 to Friday, June 10, 2016

Trans Trans: Transgender Histories Between Germany and the United States, 1882-1966

Trans Trans explores a network of individuals in Germany and the United States from the turn of the twentieth century into the 1950s who profoundly shaped transgender histories and identities. Exchanging letters and photographs among themselves, these individuals created new communities in private, but they also sought to educate doctors and the public by submitting their photographs and stories for publication in medical journals and popular magazines. The exhibition retraces the connections between these private individuals, the medical and scientific authorities with whom they entered into dialogue, and the ways in which these dialogues became public or remained hidden away within archives.

Turning traditional medical-scientific history on its head, the exhibition documents the driving role that trans individuals played in the development of medical concepts and treatments. The show exhibits extremely rare images from the world’s first popular magazine to focus on trans identity, The Third Sex, which was published in Berlin from 1930-1932, and it tracks connections between this earlier German history and the work of Dr. Harry Benjamin, whose 1966 book The Transsexual Phenomenon drew from his years of training in Germany and work with trans patients to make a plea for acceptance and supportive medical treatment to an American audience.
Trans Trans is produced in co-operation with Michele Hardy, Curator, Nickle Galleries; the Magnus-Hirschfeld-Gesellschaft in Berlin; the Institute for History and Ethics in Medicine of the Charité Clinic, Berlin; and the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction in Bloomington, Indiana.

Exhibition Production: Annette F. Timm

Curated by: Rainer Herrn, Michael Thomas Taylor, Annette F. Timm

Opening Reception: 
Wednesday, June 1, 2016 -
12:30pm to 2:00pm

Join us for the Trans Trans exhibition opening reception and the dance performance, Big Head/Small Neck by Melanie Kloetzel/kloetzel&co.

Performances will be held at 12:30 and 1:30pm.

Big Head/Small Neck will be performed as part of the opening of the Trans Trans exhibit, which builds upon the SSHRC-funded research of Annette Timm and Michael Thomas Taylor and explores the migration of ideas about transsexuality from Germany to the United States in the 1920s and 1950s. Big Head/Small Neck was created in collaboration with Scottish writer Rose Ruane and examines gender stereotyping through movement, characterization, and text, with a particular emphasis on the body’s role in questioning, reinforcing, and subverting such stereotyping. To deepen the dialogue around gender, sexuality, and politics, the piece will work in partnership with the exhibit, teasing out through physicality and live text how these subjects intersect with our daily lives.


Exhibition Events: 
Thursday, June 2, 2016 -
1:00pm to 4:00pm
Aaron Devor, (Chair of Transgender Studies, Founder and Director, Transgender Archives, University of Victoria)
Rainer Herrn (Institute for the History and Ethics of Medicine, Berlin, Germany)
Michael Thomas Taylor (Reed College, Portland, Oregon)
Annette Timm (Department of History, University of Calgary)
& members of the trans community in Calgary, TBA

Archivist Talk

Dr. Aaron Devor will begin our session with a talk about the Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria. These archives are the world’s largest repository of original materials documenting more than 50 years of trans activism and over 100 years of research by and about gender variant people. The collections, from 17 countries on five continents, if on a single shelf would stretch the length of a football field. Come hear about some of the history held in the Transgender Archives.

Curators' Roundtable

Following a short break, the curators of Trans Trans will respond to comments on the exhibition from Dr. Devor and will open up a discussion with an invited group of representatives from the trans community in Calgary and Alberta. We will discuss the themes of the exhibition and challenges of presenting this material to the public.



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Upcoming Events

The Writing on the Wall: Works of Dr. Joane Cardinal-Schubert, RCA
Date & Time:
September 21, 2017 - 5:00 pm to September 21, 2017 - 8:00 pm