Morgan M Page

The Feministing Five: Morgan M Page

For this week’s Feministing Five, we spoke with Morgan M Page, the creator of One From The Vaults! As Jos covered last week, One From The Vaults is a new trans history podcast that is delightful, entertaining, and informative. 


Morgan M Page

Morgan M Page is a multiple award-winning performance and video artist, writer, activist, and Santera who is based in Canada. Her work focuses on trans, sex work, and HIV issues. She also is an organizer and social services provider, having worked with individuals and organizations across Canada and the United States.

Her podcast, One From The Vaults, tells the stories from trans history in a fun, conversational way, or as Morgan describes, “all the dirt, gossip, and glamour from trans history!” Take a listen to the first episode here, and for those who are anxiously awaiting the next releases, the second episode will be available on January 15th and the third on February 1st!

And now without further ado, the Feministing Five with Morgan M Page!

Suzanna Bobadilla: Thank you so much for speaking with us today. Could you share with us the inspiration behind your podcast, One From The Vaults?

Morgan M Page: I’ve been interested in trans history for a long time. When I first transitioned, I was a young teenager, and I thought that my life choices had shrunk drastically. I didn’t think there were a lot of options for me. I thought there were only a few potential careers that I could go into.

It was through learning about trans history online and in the very few books that existed then that I began to be able to imagine a different life for myself – one that gave me a lot more control over what my options would be.

Later, I ran a trans youth group in Toronto for almost five years. In my work with young trans people, one of the things that I noticed was that they didn’t have a lot of access to their history. If I would mention someone like Sylvia Rivera, their ears would perk up, “Who is that?” Explaining who these people were and what they did in their lives really blew people’s minds.

I’ve been thinking for a number of years about how to make that information more accessible because so often trans history is locked in archives or in very dense academic text. A lot of people don’t find it an easy way to access that information. After several attempts of trying to put trans history on Tumblr or on Twitter, eventually I came to the idea that one really simple way of getting it across to people would be to put it in a podcast form. The response has been pretty incredible, it’s great.

SB: On that note of making history more accessible to folks, I loved how you characterized history as a type of gossip in some ways. The tone of the podcast is very relatable and fun to listen. Why did you choose to give the podcast that type of vibe? 

MMP: People often think that history is incredibly dry. It can really be taught that way when you learn it in school, especially in post-secondary education. It’s such a shame because, to me, history is just a collection of who everyone was sleeping with and all of the weird things they did because of that. History is also about who was screwing over who.

For me, getting people excited about history is showing them that history is very entertaining. It’s a whole bunch of people with a lot of bizarre issues making very strange choices about their lives. Those choices have a very direct impact on how we exist today.

The other part of it is that I come from a performance background, my family are all in the theater and I grew up in the theater, and I’m a performance artist now. Taking on an entertaining tone to things is definitely up my alley for getting my point across. I’m rarely dry in my explanations of anything.

SB: Along with the podcast, you are involved with many different projects, either art, writing, or activism? How do you see One From the Vaults complimenting the rest of your work? 

MMP: I think all of my work as an artist, as an activist, and even as a social worker is about preserving and disseminating trans culture on a variety of levels. Most of my work as an artist is really engaged in a lineage of  other trans artists who have come before me. Many of my works are in direct conversations with the work that inspires me. As an activist, I feel like my work is directly in conversation with a 150 years of people working before me to make it possible for me to do what I do now.

To me, it’s all about pushing an agenda of trans as culture rather than trans as a strictly medical phenomenon.

SB: Could you describe the process of putting together an episode? What are some fun things that you love about putting together this project? 

MMP: Putting together an episode of One From The Vaults takes a couple days. It probably would take a lot more time if I didn’t already know these people’s stories, at least a little bit about them. I spend days pouring over the Internet, trying to find little tidbits. I look in books and in university archive websites, all sort of things.

I am trying to track down not only the outline of people’s stories, which is often easily available, but especially, the gossipy bits which are much harder to come across. The other day I was working on an upcoming episode about a very important trans man from history, who basically singlehandedly changed the face of trans people in the 21st century. When I was making the episode, my two questions were, “What drugs was he taking and who was he sleeping with?” I spent two whole days trying to figure out what was he snorting and who was he having sex with. I did figure it out and it was a very entertaining story!

That’s my approach because those bits are so much more fun! We can talk about things like “Christine Jorgensen had surgery in 1952 and it was this kind of surgery.” But what I’m way more interested in is what were her personal relationships like? How did she get on with the mailman? What was happening in her world at that time?

All the gossip, all the dirt is what gets me excited. I also get excited when I am able to track down photographs of people, especially the early 20th century people. Even more so, I get excited when I find their writing which is very rarely found, aside from memoirs.

Recently I was able to track down a book by a trans man written in the early 20th century which advocates for basically all of the same healthcare reforms that trans people today are demanding right now. Being able to read that book really blew my mind. This is a book from nearly one hundred years ago arguing for all of the same things that we argue for today. It felt very validating in a way, but also it was sort of depressing. We’ve been asking for this for one hundred years and we still don’t have it.

SB: Let’s pretend you’re stranded on a desert island. You can take one drink, one food, and one feminist. What do you pick? 

MMP: I would take chocolate as my food because it’s the only thing I really eat. I have a love affair with chocolate. As for my one drink, I would take water because all of the available water around the desert island would not be drinkable. As for a feminist, I would take Kathy Acker. She would be really entertaining all the time and she was really into working out, so I feel like she could build us a shelter which I would be totally useless at doing.

Images provided by Morgan M Page

San Francisco, CA

Suzanna Bobadilla is a writer, activist, and digital strategist. According to legend, she first publicly proclaimed that she was a feminist at the age of nine in her basketball teammate's mini-van. Things have obviously since escalated. After graduating from Harvard in 2013, she became a founding member of Know Your IX's ED ACT NOW. She is curious about the ways feminists continue to use technology to create social change and now lives in San Francisco. She believes that she has the sweetest gig around – asking bad-ass feminists thoughtful questions for the publication that has taught her so much. Her views, bad jokes and all, are her own. For those wondering, if she was stranded on a desert island and had to bring one food, one drink, and one feminist, she would bring chicken mole, a margarita, and her momma.

Suzanna Bobadilla is a writer, activist, and digital strategist.

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