Tanya Asapansa-Johnson Walker

Interviewed By Lorenzo Van Ness

Tanya Asapansa-Johnson Walker is a co-founder of the New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG). Here, she shares her history of LGB and trans activism in New York City. Born on Staten Island, Miss Tanya describes her childhood confronting racism, homophobia, and transphobia along the east coast of the United States before joining the military and relocating to Germany. Upon her return, she moved to New York City, attending college on Staten Island, where she notably led a protest against Staten Island borough president, Guy Molinari, for which she was run off of campus. She also recounts the development of a distinct trans identity, surviving in New York City during the AIDS crisis, the community among homeless, queer and trans people of color in New York City in the 1980s and 90s, and her work as a social service provider and activist. (Summary by Micah Katz.)

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Smell (01:15:49)
Jewelery (01:15:55)
Family Death (01:16:04)
1972 (01:16:05)
Fire Chaplain (01:16:11)
New York City (01:16:13)
Funeral (01:16:30)
Fighting for One's Community (01:17:01)
Community (01:17:05)
Speaking Out (01:17:15)
LGBT Immigrants (01:17:33)
Asylum (01:17:40)
Healthcare (01:17:49)
Education (01:17:51)
Housing (01:17:52)
Resisting (01:18:19)
New York Hustle (01:18:33)
Dancing (01:18:34)
House Music (01:18:35)
Vogueing (01:18:39)
Ballroom Scene (01:18:44)
1990s (01:18:48)
Ball (01:18:49)
Homeless (01:19:08)
Change (01:19:15)
Systems of Oppression (01:19:31)
Staying Alert (01:19:40)
Community (01:19:45)
Current Power (01:19:49)

Transcript

Read transcript.

Interview Data

Date of Interview
April 2, 2017
Location of Interview
Tanya's house
Place of birth
Staten Island, New York
Occupations
Consultant, speaker, visioner, co-founder of NYTAG
Birth Year
1963
Gender Pronouns
She/Her
Rights Statement
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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.