William Way Community Center Opening Trans Philadelphia Exhibit

Defiant Archives will feature a collection of archival and personal items.

william way community center

William Way LGBT Community Center

The William Way LGBT Community Center is opening a first of its kind exhibit that highlights Philadelphia trans activism. The project, called Defiant Archives: Trans Histories of Existence, Resistance, and Brilliance, features dozens of archival items that focus on Philadelphia’s trans culture-making.

“We believe that Philadelphia has one of the strongest and most influential trans communities and histories in the nation—and we’re so honored to provide the space to exhibit that story,” said William Way Executive Director Chris Bartlett. The exhibit, which opens on July 24 and runs through September 20, actively involved “the thoughts, work and voices of trans and gender nonconforming people in every element of the curatorial process,” according to the Center.

This is, indeed, a unique exhibit, and the best parallel can be to the current Speaking Out for Equality collection at the National Constitution Center. Guests will be able to view movie clips from the Trans Oral History Project, as well as video from the documentary Transpass, which tells the story of a group who petitioned (and won) to have Septa remove gendered stickers in 2013.

Sharron Cooks, a member of the curation team for the exhibit, said that the most meaningful part of the process was finding archival materials that were about trans people of color. “It was also wonderful working with other trans-identified individuals in the community to make this exhibition a success,” she said.

The exhibit’s free opening reception is scheduled for Friday, July 24th at 6 pm. More information on the Center can be found by visiting their website. Admission to the exhibit will be free during the Center’s normal operating hours.