Dean Spade

Interviewed By Nadia Awad

Dean Spade relates his journey and politicization first through the support of his mother in conservative Virginia, his first tastes of feminism and increasingly his work to provide support and resources through the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, advocating for transgender, intersex and gender non-conforming low income communites and people of color. Spade's story spans from Virginia and back and forth between New York and California. Working at a LGBTQ bookstore by day, promoting queer nightlife and involving himself in New York's community activism, Dean pursued law while developing a sharp sense of the limitations of institutional change. He shares both his personal experiences as well as grounding insights regarding the nature of social change, ending with a reflection on the current political climate. (Summary by Kirsten Adorian.)

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Read transcript.

Interview Data

Date of Interview
April 24, 2017
Location of Interview
Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York
Place of birth
San Diego, California
Law Professor
Gender Pronouns
Birth Year
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About This Collection

NYC Trans Oral History Project

NYPL's Community Oral History Project is teaming up with the NYC Trans Oral History Project to collect, preserve, and share oral histories from our city's transgender and gender non-conforming communities. 

We'll be training a community corps of interviewers to collect these largely undocumented oral histories in order to build a lasting and expansive archive on NYC transgender experiences.

About the NYC Trans Oral History Project:

We are a collective, community archive working to document transgender resistance and resilience in New York City. We work to confront the erasure of trans lives and to record diverse histories of gender as intersecting with race and racism, poverty, dis/ability, aging, housing migration, sexism, and the AIDS crisis. 

We are inspired by the public history activism of the ACT UP oral history project to build knowledge as a part of our anti-oppression work. We believe oral history is a powerful part of social justice work, and that building an alternative archive of transgender histories can transform our organizing for transgender liberation. 

You can listen to interviews, search interviews tags (like #genderfluidity #self-knowledge #gentrification and #queerfamily), and soon read transcripts. We hope the interviews and tags will preserve and proliferate new knowledges about trans and gender non-conforming experiences.

Content warning: Many of the interviews here include personal accounts of violence, sexual assault, abuse as children, or trauma.