On March 6, Tumblr account @wellesleytransarchive made their debut with a welcome post introducing the account. Described as a “student-run project with the goal of creating institutional memory of trans student experience & visibility for trans students on campus,” the Trans Archive aims to amplify the rich history of trans, nonbinary and gender non-conforming lives on Wellesley’s campus.
Ahona Mukherjee ’25, one of the volunteer archivists, said, “[The Trans Archive] is a platform and a form of keeping track of memory of the school and, specifically, trans students [and] trans experiences and to just kind of note that we are here on this campus and have always been here on this campus. It is not supposed to be a log of fiction work, but rather something to document lived experiences of trans people, spam of events that have occurred, generally non-fiction work.”
Currently a five-person student project headed by Juno Appel ’25, the Trans Archive debuted in early March, shortly after an email sent out by President Paula Johnson in opposition to the gender inclusivity ballot initiative. While the timing of its founding may appear to be a direct response to that email, the Archive had been in the works for a large portion of the academic year. Mukherjee noted that the group had been “quietly working on it in the background and waiting for an opportune time” to unveil the project.
Alongside their inaugural Tumblr post, the Archive posted on Instagram with suggestions of what types of content to submit, from photos to poetry to tweets. They started with more contemporary submissions, such as spam and statements relating to Johnson’s email, then moved to the recent past with pictures from the Rocky Horror Picture Show production in 2022 and posters advertising events hosted by the Office of LGBTQ+ Programs and Services. Throughout the entire Archive so far, photos of trans joy can be found alongside older content such as the New York Times article about Wellesley men and the Times article about the 2015 decision to accept trans women at the College, including media of the student advocacy work that helped lead to that decision. While the Archive has a variety of content, Mukherjee notes some of their favorite submissions.
“Something that I really appreciated seeing was people uploading pictures of their friends and specifically trans joy on campus. I think a lot of people think that the documentation of trans experience has to be very serious and has to be like, ‘Oh, I’m at this historically women’s space, and I just feel out of place here,’” they said. “That’s not always going to be the case, and it’s nice to show that trans people have always had a space here and have communities here, and that is very much present in the Archive.”
Alongside the broad idea of trans joy, the Archive stands as a place for anyone to post practically anything they would like to, even to the point of being able to treat it like a personal diary or journal. Because the Archive uses a system that allows for anonymity, Mukherjee noted that the contents are simultaneously intimate and dissociated. Furthermore, Mukherjee emphasized the need for intersectional experiences to be shared and added to the Archive.
“I think a lot of the trans experience that has been documented … is often a very white experience, and, as someone who is a leader of a queer affinity group on-campus, specifically QTSAC [Queer and Trans South Asian Collective], I want to make sure that yes, people feel visible in terms of seeing trans people on campus, but [also in terms of] seeing the diversity of trans people … POC experiences, neurodiverse experiences, disabled experiences …” Mukherjee said. “The list could go on, but there’s so many people here that I know personally whose experiences could just enlighten so many other people and make people feel enriched and feel in community with others, because they don’t see themselves otherwise, and I want people to know that people like them belong here.”