Melissa Sklarz

Interviewed By Ric Tennenbaum

Melissa Sklarz was the first transgender elected official in New York, having been a judicial delegate since the 1990s. She has served on many trans rights legislative committees, including the Stonewall Democrats and Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats, and was a delegate for the DNC in 2016. Yet her life before politics was marred by homelessness and substance abuse while struggling through life in New York in the 1970s and 1980s, and slowly coming to terms with her gender identity. Here she discusses her troubled past as well as her vision for a more just, trans-inclusive future. (Summary by Boyda Johnstone.)

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Transcript

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Interview Data

Date of Interview
July 5, 2017
Location of Interview
Manhattan, New York City, New York
Place of birth
New York City
Occupations
Director, Non-Profit
Gender Pronouns
She/Her
Birth Year
1951
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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.