Naomi Clark

Interviewed By Michelle Esther O'Brien

Naomi Clark describes her work with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the on-line trans and queer community Strap-On.org, and her career in video game design. She begins her oral history with her childhood. Topics of her childhood include her first memories of Seattle, parents' marital tensions, family move to Japan, return to the United States during high school and racial justice activism there. She then discusses her career as a coder for Lego and her process of coming out during that time. In the end of the oral history, Clark tells about her life after coming out, the community support she found in the forum Strap-On, and the growing presence of trans women in video game design. (Summary by Murielle O'Brien.)

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Michelle O'Brien (00:01)
Naomi Clark (00:03)
NYC Trans Oral History Project (00:07)
March 3, 2017 (00:20)
NYU Metrotech (00:24)
Childhood (00:35)
Family history (00:38)
Academic family - immunology and social work (00:52)
Seattle upbringing (00:57)
Gay neighborhood (01:23)
Used bookstore (02:41)
Japanese heritage (04:01)
Immigration (04:17)
Gendered expectations (04:36)
Motherhood / wifehood (05:00)
Parents fighting (05:02)
Culture clash (05:55)
HIV (06:18)
AZT (06:45)
Domestic labor / career sacrifices (08:10)
Japanese retirement home (08:35)
Burden of childcare (08:46)
International move (09:28)
Language barrier (09:50)
Alienation (10:14)
Isolation (10:16)
Anime (11:33)
Japanese comic books (12:09)
Trans representations in literature (13:28)
Trans representations in reference books (13:46)
Magical Taluluto (15:20)
Magic (16:26)
Gender swapping (17:49)
Racial segregation (18:15)
Social justice education (19:44)
Police brutality (20:48)
Gay discrimination (22:22)
Homophobia (22:34)
Iraq war I (23:07)
Lego (30:40)
misery (30:53)
queer coworkers (31:02)
drinking (32:42)
"I guess I have to do this" (37:14)
misery (37:17)
cost of transition (37:25)
fears (37:39)
worst that happen (38:40)
"it's not really a choice" (39:12)
job prospects (40:24)
changing attitudes (40:53)
trans network (41:09)
restroom politics (41:32)
Silvia Rivera (45:15)
queering transgender expression (46:10)
law (46:39)
name change (46:50)
strapon.org (47:44)
community finding (48:19)
activism (49:49)
toilet training (50:33)
coming out at work (51:23)
message boards (52:37)
queer core punk scene (52:48)
"assimilationist perspective on queerness and gender" (53:58)
radical politics (55:21)
board monitor (57:44)
sub forums (01:00:29)
sexual preferences and opression (01:03:30)
gender politics (01:03:52)
beauty standards (01:04:06)
Judith Butler (01:11:34)
Lambda Legal (01:12:42)
queer dance parties (01:14:07)
The Hole (01:14:16)
fundraising (01:16:11)
dating (01:18:04)
Black Lives Matter (01:18:05)
Black Lives Matter (01:25:21)
finding a job (01:29:32)
Working for game start-ups (01:31:12)
trans women in game design (01:31:33)
Gamergate (01:40:41)
4chan (01:40:43)

Transcript

Read transcript.

Interview Data

Date of Interview
March 3, 2017
Location of Interview
NYU Metrotech
Place of birth
Santa Monica, California
Occupations
Arts Professor
Gender Pronouns
She/Her
Birth Year
1975
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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.