Library opens transgendered collection

BY ASHLEY DINGES
Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 26, 2004

At age 13, Dallas Denny went to the library in her Southern
hometown and looked up the words “transvestite” and
“transsexual” in the library card catalogue. She found
two results.

Yesterday, Dallas was present at the Harlan Hatcher Graduate
Library, where her personal collection of more than 1,500 titles
related to transgender issues —the National Transgender
Library and Archive — was officially unveiled as part of the
University’s Labadie Collection.

Denny, founder of the American Educational Gender Information
Service, spoke at the ceremony. She is also the editor in chief of
Transgender Tapestry, one of few publications to deal specifically
with transgender issues.

“What was expected for me was to disappear into society.
Now, someone can be questioning their identity and come to the
library,” Denny said.

Several groups were vying for the collection, including the Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Center in San Francisco, Calif.
Finally, it was decided that the University would receive the
collection, and the GLBT would receive duplicates of any items in
the library.

“We had to think — is it going to be there 50 years
from now, or will it always be scraggling for money?” Denny
said.

The archive includes items ranging from books to two pairs of
shoes worn by Virginia Prince, a transgender activist, more than 50
years ago. Other items include buttons, pins, photographs,
playbills and flyers.

The first item, a book titled The Man-Maid Doll, was purchased
in the late 1970s. All items in the collection were either
purchased by Denny or donated by others, and can be found by
searching MIRLYN, the library’s electronic card
catalogue.

Julie Herrada, curator of the Labadie Collections, oversaw the
transfer of the collection from Atlanta to Ann Arbor in 2000, and
helped to catalogue all of the items over the last four years.

“We are still collecting contemporary materials related to
social protest. You can imagine the work we have cut out for us
because the struggle never really ends,” Herrada said of the
Labadie Collection. Certain items, such as personal letters to
Denny, cannot be accessed by the general public unless identifying
information is removed.

“I’m glad that (the University) has that
sensitivity. A lot of the people writing were pouring their hearts
out for help,” Denny said.

Other speakers at the event included University Provost Paul
Courant and State Sen. Liz Brater.

“I think that it’s just so wonderful that now, in
2004, we talk about GLBT and people are starting to understand what
that means. We’re so proud to have (the collection)
here,” Brater said.

Also speaking at the event was Prof. Bruce Frier, who serves as
chair of the University’s Provost Task Force on TBLG
Concerns. The task force recently made alterations in the
nondiscrimination policy to include gender discrimination.