Records of the International Foundation for Gender Education, 1972-2010
Organizational records, including board of directors minutes, audiovisual material, member and Transgender Tapestry subscriber letters, and annual convention materials of the International Foundation for Gender Education, an organization dedicated to promoting understanding and acceptance of transgender people through advocacy and educational initiatives.
Language of Materials
Materials in English.
Access. Researchers must sign a special permission form to use the collection. The following records access to which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy have been removed and closed until at least January 1, 2040: membership, mailing, and donor lists and convention registration materials which contain names and addresses, including #6.10, 7.2-7.5, 8.18-8.21, FD.1, 9.1, 12.6; #12.1 which contains sensitive personal information; Series II. Membership, Subscription, and General Inquiries, 1972-2010 (#13.1-85.5). An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by the International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE) is held by IFGE. Should IFGE cease to exist, copyright and all extensions and renewals thereof transfer to the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Unrestricted papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
Extent35.03 linear feet ((83 file boxes, 2 half file boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 1 folio+ folder, 161 audiotapes, 26 videotapes, memorabilia, electronic records)
The International Foundation for Gender Education records document the events and initiatives of the organization, as well as the involvement and activities of its membership. The records were in some order when received and have been further arranged by the processor. Where possible, original folder titles have been maintained and appear in quotation marks; remaining titles were created by the processor. IFGE's web site will be captured periodically as part of Harvard University Library's Web Archive Collection (WAX). Audiovisual materials (accession number 2010-M116) were added to the collection in August 2014. These materials are housed in #T-461.1 - T-461.161 and Vt-238.1 - Vt-258.26.
Series I, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, ADMINISTRATIVE, AND EVENTS,1974-2004 (#1.1-12.8, FD.1, F+D.1, E.1), includes board of directors meeting minutes, reports, financial and related budget materials, notes, agendas, by-laws and constitution drafts, proposals, ballots, handouts for meetings, uncataloged photographs and slides, and directories. Of note are the minutes from the Tiffany Club board meeting where IFGE business was discussed (#1.2). IFGE's annual convention materials include correspondence, planning meeting agendas, contracts, program proposals, materials relating to the Virginia Prince award honoring transgender activists, budgets, programs and drafts, and convention newsletters. Interspersed within convention materials is information specific to the transgender community, such as notices regarding locations of appropriate or private bathroom facilities and concerns regarding being photographed at convention. The records in this series also reflect the relationships and connections among various transgender activists organizations, and social and support groups. For instance, there are correspondence and directories relating to the IFGE Congress of Representatives. The congress served in an advisory capacity to the IFGE board of directors. It was comprised of individuals selected by other organizations, such as the social support group Boulton and Park Society (San Antonio, Texas) and the social, educational and support group for crossdressers, Cornbury Society (British Columbia, Canada), to represent the special interests of their organization at the annual IFGE convention. Each representative served as the primary contact between his/her organization and the IFGE national committees, headquarters, and with other organizations. The interconnectedness of various transgender organizations is also represented in the Human Outreach and Achievement Institute (Outreach Institute of Gender Studies) files (#10.1-10.4). IFGE officers were also involved with the Outreach Institute and there is extensive information regarding the early activities of the Outreach Institute, including its annual social and educational event, Fantasia Fair. Mary Brown Parlee research files (#11.2-11.6) contain notes, correspondence, syllabi, articles, flyers, and brochures relating to Professor Parlee's research work on gender and sexuality. At the time, Parlee was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Additional material received as electronic files will be reformatted at some future date for inclusion in this collection. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Series II, MEMBERSHIP, SUBSCRIPTION, AND GENERAL INQUIRIES, 1972-2010 (#13.1-85.5), contains cards, postcards, letters to IFGE or the Tiffany Club from members, subscribers, and others in the broader transgender community. The first 66 boxes consist of subscription/membership files organized by membership identification numbers (#1-7924). There are Tapestry journal subscription/renewal forms; Tiffany club membership forms; letters regarding membership issues, vetting members, conventions and events, in response to requests for submissions, answers to personal advertisements, general information regarding IFGE, dating and friendship, book orders, personal stories, requesting help or support, sex reassignment surgery, donations, inquiring about support groups and therapists, issues related to homosexuality, and requests for pen pals; submissions for the Tapestry magazine; receipts for membership and subscription payments; uncataloged photographs; and a few clippings. Many early letters were addressed personally to Merissa Sherrill Lynn, as head of Tiffany Club and IFGE. Also included are letters from concerned parents, individuals who are attracted to transsexuals, and transgender prisoners; international letters, including from India, France, Israel, Italy, Norway, and England; completed telephone inquiry forms; and IFGE membership mailings. The first 5459 files are arranged by subscription number; followed by files in chronological order.
THIS SERIES IS CLOSED UNTIL AT LEAST JANUARY 1, 2040.
Series III. AUDIOVISUAL MATERIAL, 1986-1996 (T-461-1 - T-461.161, Vt-238.1 - Vt-238.26), contains audiocassette and video recordings of conventions, educational workshops, interviews, awards ceremonies, fashion shows, meetings, and other events sponsored by IFGE. Also included in this series are a handful of recordings produced by other transgender organizations not directly related with IFGE such as the American Transsexual Education Center (ATEC). Because the majority of recordings arrived largely unlabeled or mislabeled, titles were created by the archivist after listening to the content. Tape titles in quotation marks were accurately created by IFGE staff. Roughly half of the audiocassettes documents the IFGE Board of Directors meetings which occurred seasonally, usually three to four times per year, and corresponded to large national meetings organized by other organizations for heterosexual cross dressers, transgender, and transsexual individuals. These include the "Be-All" weekend (Chicago, Illinois), Fantasia Fair (Provincetown, MA), "Southern Comfort,"(Atlanta, Georgia) and the "Texas T-Party"(San Antonio, Texas). The tape recordings of board meetings provide a great deal of background about the IFGE's history, structure, and group dynamics as well as providing documentation of planning, budgetary issues, changes to by-laws, and outreach efforts. On some occasions the required quorum of directors was not reached; in those cases, an extended session of the Executive Board was held (and discussions recorded) but voting was postponed. The other half of audiotapes record sessions and workshops held at the IFGE annual convention, as well as radio interviews of cross dressers about their experience in the larger society and interviews with IFGE leaders.
Over half of the videotapes contain interviews conducted by Eve Burchert at the 7th Annual Convention of leaders in IFGE and the transgender community. A number of videos documents awards ceremonies, talent and fashion shows, and "Fantasia Fair"--one of the earliest national gatherings of cross dressers. Held every October in Provincetown, Massachusetts, the Fair began in 1975 as a friendly forum at which primarily heterosexual cross dressers could dress and interact openly in a supportive environment. Over time, the Fair grew into a 10-day event that attracted not only heterosexual cross dressers but male-to-female, female-to-male transsexuals as well as cross dressers who identified as gay or bisexual. Dubbed as "more than a vacation and more than a conference,"Fantasia Fair featured educational workshops (topics ranged from spousal support, to dressing fashionably, to sexual reassignment surgery); counseling sessions; and social events (including the annual luncheon, fashion show, and Fantasy Ball). Video footage documenting the Be-All in this collection refer to the "Be All You Want To Be"weekend event held in Pittsburgh (not Chicago) in 1990. This event grew from the Be-All transgender convention started by Tri-Ess in Chicago in 1982. Following the success of Chicago's Be-All, other cities hosted similar events. The Be-All event encompassed Board of Directors meetings, formal presentations, conference sessions, and also featured a talent show, "Strut Your Stuff,"which featured musical performances, fashion shows, and stand-up comedy. Most Be-All participants remained cross-dressed the entire weekend and recordings in this series reflect that. Also included in the series are videotapes that document the awards ceremonies sponsored by IFGE. These include the Virginia Prince Award and the Trinity Award. The latter was established in 1991 to honor heroes and heroines of the transgender community; recipients were often unacknowledged people who had done something extraordinary. The series is arranged first by format and chronologically thereunder.
The International Foundation for Gender Education is a non-profit membership organization founded in November 1986 by Merissa Sherill Lynn. The mission of the organization is to promote understanding and acceptance of transgender people through advocacy and educational initiatives. Since its founding the IFGE has operated as a communications medium, and an outreach and educational tool for transgender people, professional communities, and the general public. IFGE is managed by a board of directors elected from the transgender community-at-large. Each member of the board serves as an officer/coordinator on a board committee. The IFGE publishes Transgender Tapestry, which was originally titled The TV-TS Tapestry until 1995. They provide a speakers bureau, a library of publications on transgender issues, and, since 1987, they have held an annual "coming together" convention.
The IFGE developed out of an earlier organization, the Tiffany Club, a social and support organization for the transgender community. Merissa Sherrill Lynn, Patricia West, Dee Dee Watson, and others, founded the Tiffany Club in 1978. On November 26, 1978, the first Tiffany Club meeting was held at Merissa Sherrill Lynn's home in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, and there the organization's constitution and by-laws were drafted. In October 1979, the Tiffany Club moved to a facility in Weston, Massachusetts, and eventually to Wayland, Massachusetts. In October 1981 at Fantasia Fair, an annual transgender gathering in Provincetown, Massachusetts, Betty Ann Lind, a support group leader from Virginia, organized a meeting of the transgender community leaders; the result was the emergence of the The TV-TS Tapestry newsletter as the primary publication for the cross-dressing/transsexual community. An important section of The TV-TS Tapestry newsletter was the correspondence section, where members were encouraged to contact one another. The newsletter was distributed to other organizations and was also sold in adult bookstores. In 1981, the periodical changed from a Xeroxed newsletter to a glossy covered magazine.
In November 1986, Merissa Sherrill Lynn ventured to form an organization that would be devoted to the needs of transgender people throughout the world and which would be dedicated to educating society about transgender issues. Working with the Chicago Gender Society, she organized the first International Foundation for Gender Education convention in Chicago, Illinois, in March 1987. The Tiffany Club board of directors, along with other interested club members, met there to create the organizational structure and write the by-laws for IFGE. IFGE took over publication of The TV-TS Tapestry magazine and the Tiffany Club officially changed its name to the Tiffany Club of New England (TCNE), narrowing its focus to being a local support group.
At the first Chicago convention, the IFGE Board of Directors hired Merissa Sherrill Lynn to become its first executive director. In February 1988, in order to deal with the overwhelming demand for services and information, Yvonne Cook was hired to become the IFGE's Director of Operations. In April 1988, IFGE acquired its first headquarters at 6 Cushing Street, in Waltham, Massachusetts. In 1992, they moved to 123 Moody Street, Waltham, Massachusetts, due to a need for more office space. In 2002, Denise Leclair, who had held several key positions within IFGE since 1998, was named executive director. In 2011, the office moved to Washington, D.C.
The collection is arranged in two series:
- Series I. Board of Directors, Administrative, and Events, 1974-2004 (#1.1-12.8, FD.1, F+D.1, E.1)
- Series II. Membership, Subscription, and General Inquiries, 1972-2010 (#13.1-85.5)
- Series III. Audiovisual material, 1986-1996 (T-461.1 - T-461.161, Vt-238.1 - Vt-258.26)
Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Accession numbers: 2010-M97, 2010-M116
The records of the International Foundation for Gender Education were given to the Schlesinger Library by IFGE Executive Director Denise Leclair in 2010.
Processed: July 2013
By: Laura Peimer with assistance from Samuel Bauer.
Updated: August 2014
By: Marilyn Morgan
- International Foundation for Gender Education. Records of the International Foundation for Gender Education, 1972-2010: A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
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