Fainan Lakha

Interviewed By Elliott Maya

Fainan Lakha is a student at Columbia majoring in Comparative Literature and Society. She grew up in a Shia Imami Ismaili Muslim community in Seattle and became involved in the Oneness University associated with Tony Robbins before coming to New York and discovering philosophical materialism and Marxism. She is heavily active in current social movements and, in this interview, describes her vision of a trans politics that reaches beyond visibility. (summary by Boyda Johnstone.)

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Columbia University (01:06)
undergraduate (01:19)
Seattle (01:21)
high school (01:34)
sense of self (02:02)
parental pressure (02:12)
religious (02:27)
mysticism (02:32)
The Ismaili community (02:36)
Ali cousin of Muhammed (02:45)
Imam (02:55)
Islam (03:07)
King of Iran (03:27)
Muslim League (03:45)
Muslim modernism (04:13)
19th-century English rationalism (04:26)
Protestantism (04:42)
Aid work (04:58)
liberal multiculturalism (05:18)
Ismāʿīlism (05:46)
conformity (06:03)
Sufism (06:51)
daily meditation (07:21)
Indian Godman (08:04)
religious guru (08:19)
Vishnu (08:38)
Tony Robbins (08:51)
selfhelp (08:56)
ideology (09:14)
intensive seminars (10:00)
professionalism (10:13)
Oneness University (10:45)
relativism (11:52)
Oneness Movement (12:40)
corporatism (12:45)
blessing (13:34)
divine energy (13:41)
Vancouver (14:59)
parents fighting (16:24)
childhood sexual abuse (16:36)
manic state (16:58)
avoidance (17:19)
female identification (17:37)
trans awareness (17:54)
desire to live female (18:14)
friends with girls (19:12)
sports (19:28)
football (19:43)
snowboarding (20:04)
lacrosse (20:11)
defensive sports (20:38)
knee injury (21:01)
psychoanalysis (22:17)
Freud (22:30)
latent trauma (22:39)
weed (23:11)
quitting school (23:38)
therapy (23:58)
Columbia Psychoanalytic Institute (24:07)
narrativization (24:34)
destabilization (25:47)
Comparative literature and society (26:01)
social philosophy (26:10)
Deleuze and Guattari (26:12)
Marxism (26:17)
unified multiplicity (26:30)
totalizing narratives (27:48)
transitioning (28:46)
students of color (29:16)
dating (30:17)
toxic friendship (30:34)
nonbinarism (30:53)
lesbian (30:57)
misgendering (31:23)
philosophical materialism (33:43)
astrology (33:52)
birth chart (35:06)
intuition (35:55)
Aquarius (36:31)
Scorpion moon (36:32)
Aries rising (36:33)
outgoing personality (37:05)
problem-solving (38:14)
materialism (38:42)
Amnesty International (39:00)
activism (39:53)
National Board of Directors (40:10)
lobbying (40:18)
middle-aged white voters (40:45)
studying religion (41:38)
affective mysticism (42:12)
external stimulation (43:23)
prison divestment (43:43)
anti-gentrification (43:49)
International Socialist Organization (44:18)
ISO (44:19)
challenges to organizing (44:36)
becoming Marxist (44:55)
parental occupations (45:40)
studying philosophy (46:03)
tracking thought patterns (47:03)
causality (47:23)
materialism (48:29)
capitalism (48:51)
systems of production (49:27)
exploitation (49:33)
class struggle (49:39)
Spinoza (51:11)
monism (51:39)
against dualism (51:48)
unity of reality (52:19)
Buddhism (52:27)
politics (52:54)
leftist Revolution (53:11)
building a left (53:18)
organizing (54:33)
Socialism (55:18)
antiracism (55:26)
antiunionism (57:23)
Austerity politics (57:35)
Soviet Union (57:44)
Seattle (58:26)
WTO (58:39)
9/11 (58:56)
Black Lives Matter (59:01)
Occupy Wall Street (59:02)
Gay marriage (59:06)
Bernie Sanders (59:29)
Jeremy Corbyn (59:33)
Standing Rock (59:41)
Indigenous Rights (59:50)
environmentalism (01:00:03)
resistance (01:00:25)
social movements (01:00:31)
Trump (01:00:34)
women's march (01:00:36)
immigration ban (01:00:45)
power (01:01:23)
Democratic Socialists of America (01:02:02)
Democratic party (01:02:21)
feminist organizing (01:03:22)
antidiscrimination acts (01:04:58)
trans inclusion (01:05:14)
alternative polls (01:07:02)
visibility (01:07:52)
trans oppression (01:08:28)
police violence (01:08:34)
documentation (01:08:38)
housing (01:08:59)
trans politics (01:09:12)
gender (01:09:18)
fragmentation (01:11:06)
regression since the 60s (01:11:12)
employment (01:11:39)
Caitlyn Jenner (01:12:17)
Laverne Cox (01:12:37)
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (01:12:42)
trans people of color (01:13:37)
militant trans movement (01:15:22)
STAR (01:16:08)
drugs (01:17:28)
sophomore year (01:18:00)
smoking weed (01:19:02)
Lexapro (01:19:07)
legalization of marijuana (01:20:22)
video games (01:21:12)
transitioning (01:22:00)
dissociation (01:24:09)
emotions (01:27:08)
euphoria (01:28:04)
bipolarism (01:28:36)
depression (01:29:04)
Portland (01:31:43)
death of parent (01:31:55)
trans friend (01:33:04)
pronouns (01:34:01)
nonbinarism (01:34:16)
dating lesbians (01:34:36)
hostile home (01:35:35)
coming out (01:35:56)
cousin (01:36:10)
hairstyle (01:37:04)
facial hair (01:37:28)
tactile knowledge (01:38:38)
external transitioning (01:38:56)
femme (01:39:13)
voice (01:39:52)
Silicon Valley (01:42:07)
mindfulness (01:42:12)
dogmatism (01:43:11)
guitar (01:43:55)
jazz (01:44:01)
bands (01:45:28)
music (01:45:32)
preppy clothing (01:45:46)
computer music (01:46:31)
instrumentalizing (01:46:57)
formlessness (01:47:45)
writing (01:48:29)
political writing (01:48:36)

Transcript

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Interview Data

Date of Interview
July 13, 2017
Location of Interview
Kent Hall (Columbia University)
Place of birth
Kirkland, Washington
Occupations
Student
Gender Pronouns
She/her/hers
Birth Year
1995
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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.