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"Word of Mouth" How The Trans+ Community Found Itself


Page from Virginia Prince scrapbook depicting the "Hose and Heels Club" (1960s)

As networks developed, it became increasingly necessary to share information within communities. This first happened through in-person private gatherings like Virginia Prince's "Hose and Heels Club," first initiated in 1961. It became one of the first crossdressers’ support and advocacy organizations of the era.

As time passed, Trans+ activists rose to the occasion by printing their own publications for distribution. Through print media, information could be shared on a far greater scale than ever before. No matter the geographical space between readers, whether in the US or Europe, knowing that there were other readers helped develop a far-reaching community.

Christopher Street Piers in New York City (1985)

Piers Newsletter: a lost piece of history

Despite the difficulties that came with publishing at a time when many printing businesses would refuse items they considered perverted and possibly illegal, there were still a wide range of people who published materials. The Piers Newsletter was one such example. The West Side Piers in New York, shown here with a picture from Efrain John Gonzalez, was an area that was frequented by queer and trans people of colour, especially sex workers. The Piers Newsletter would have been an invaluable resource to the already marginalized community.

The Piers Newsletter is currently lost to time. The only known evidence that it ever existed comes from a photo by Alvin Baltrop that includes a message about the newsletter scrawled across a wall. As you go through this section, ask yourself why these might not have been collected and what might have been lost.

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