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Check out this new trans history podcast on Rachel, Lou Reed’s transsexual girlfriend

Last week Morgan M. Page released the first episode of One From The Vaults, her new trans history podcast. And it’s a must listen.

The episode focuses on Rachel, Lou Reed’s transsexual girlfriend. As with a lot of trans history – and history of marginalized people in general – there are questions left open, gaps to be filled in, and conflicting stories. Often we only have what cis people have said about trans people, and while that might ring false in familiar ways we don’t have the alternate narrative. Page delivers very well researched information in a gossipy, conspiratorial voice, which is perfect for this sort of historical record and makes listening feel more like friendly chat about our ancestors then a dry history text.

A lack of knowledge about our own past is dangerous and all too common for trans folks, as our history has been violently suppressed and erased (quite literally – one famous WWII photo shows the burning of books from Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute for Sexual Research). This can contribute to intergenerational conflicts among trans folks when younger people don’t know about the language, understandings, and experiences of our elders. And it obviously contributes to the massive ignorance of cis people, who are able to repeatedly pretend the latest trans celebrity is somehow revealing the existence of an unknown population, even though we’ve been through this trans celebrity cycle many times before. Which might be why I know so many queers who are passionate about the archive (it could also be cause I’m a queer archive nerd myself).

In this context, pop historical projects like One From The Vaults are fucking necessary. Thankfully, the first episode of the podcast also happens to be a ridiculously fun dive into the mystery of Rachel. Page said about her goals for the project:

My vision for OFTV is to bring trans history out of academia and into an accessible format. I’ve been talking about trans history for years and people are so hungry for it, but I think a lot of people don’t find reading academic articles or sifting through archives fun or easy to do. In an essay on her blog, Reina Gossett, who’s done an incredible amount of work making documents related to Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P Johnson widely available, even mentions how going to an archive can end up exposing us to transphobic, racist, and hostile situations. With OFTV, you don’t have to worry about that – you can get all the juicy gossip from our trans ancestors, and learn about their incredible accomplishments, but without being accosted by security at some stuffy University library.

Page has lots of plans for future episodes of One From The Vaults and I cannot wait to listen to them – and that’s coming from someone who’s never really gotten into the whole podcast thing.

Check out Episode 1 of One From The Vaults on Soundcloud or iTunes.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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