Trans Elders Tell Their Stories
Edited by Margot Wilson (she/her)
and Aaron Devor (he/him)
Glimmerings is a compilation of stories told by 15 trans elders. Glimmerings offers stories of trans, non-binary and Two-Spirit champions, innovators, and trailblazers who came of age in the 1930s to the 1980s, before the age of global communication, at a time when the Internet and worldwide connectivity were still visions of the future; when only inflexible, dichotomous categories of male and female existed; when heterosexuality was the only sanctioned form of romantic attraction or sexual conduct; and when any expression of interest outside of these strict prescriptions was severely censured. Growing up in their early ages, life for many was characterized by isolation, secrecy, prejudice, reproach, silence, and shame. Social support networks were virtually non-existent, there was no language to describe their feelings, and there were no legal protections for trans people. Being “out” routinely resulted in loss of respectability and socioeconomic stability. Secrecy, for many, was simply a matter of survival.
It is difficult to overstate the importance of recording and preserving trans elders’ stories. They orient our understanding of the varied paths along which the trans community, its history, and experience have journeyed. These are the stories of those who took significant risks and made personal sacrifices in order to draw attention to and foster understanding of the issues faced by trans people. Change initiated by them has made it possible for young trans people today to more openly experiment with and express their authentic gender identities and individualities, to recognize, articulate and reveal their authentic selves, and to transition in more supportive environments.