Avery Dame-GriffSep 17, 2023
The Two Revolutions
A History of the Transgender Internet
New York University Press 2023
Avery Dame-Griff's The Two Revolutions: A History of the Transgender Internet (NYU Press, 2023) explores how the rise of the internet shaped transgender identity and activism from the 1980s to the present. Through extensive archival research and media archeology, Avery Dame-Griff reconstructs the manifold digital networks of transgender activists, cross-dressing computer hobbyists, and others interested in gender nonconformity who incited the second revolution of the title: the ascendance of “transgender” as an umbrella identity in the mid-1990s.
Dame-Griff argues that digital communications sparked significant momentum within what would become the transgender movement, but also further cemented existing power structures. Covering both a historical period that is largely neglected within the history of computing, and the poorly understood role of technology in queer and trans social movements, The Two Revolutions offers a new understanding of both revolutions—the internet’s early development and the structures of communication that would take us to today’s tipping point of trans visibility politics. Through a history of how trans people online exploited different digital infrastructures in the early days of the internet to build a community, The Two Revolutions tells a crucial part of trans history itself.
Scholars and Works Mentioned in the Episode
- Queer Digital History Project
- Alladi Venkatesh, Computers and Other Interactive Technologies for the Home (pdf)
- Charlton D. McIlwain, Black Software: The Internet & Racial Justice, from the AfroNet to Black Lives Matter
- Megan Sapnar Ankerson
- Avery Dame-Griff, Mapping the Territory: Archiving the Trans Website in an Age of Search
Hallel Yadin is an archivist and special projects manager at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.