Ottawa Trans Library

Digital Archive

Notes from the Underground (NFTU)

NFTU was the newsletter of Gender Mosaic, Ottawa’s long running trans social and support group. It was published from December 1988 to December 2004. I previously uploaded six issues only, but have now put up the complete set of issues my friend so kindly scanned for me.

NFTU1990v3n2Gender Mosaic was originally named New Ottawa Women (NOW) and was a chapter of the California heterosexual crossdresser organization Society for the Second Self (Tri-Ess), although they disregarded Tri-Ess’s narrowly defined membership criteria from the outset and welcomed all trans folks.

NFTU provides not only a running history of Gender Mosaic, but also an interesting historical perspective on the evolution of the trans community and shifts in trans thinking. See the NFTU page for issues uploaded so far.


Triple Echo

Triple Echo is the ‘zine I published from 1999 to 2004 and, incidentally, the original name for this web site. Here are two of my favourite issues. I hope to put up the entire run in due time.

Triple Echo v3 no2

TrEcho3no2This issue is what I hoped the ‘zine would be, but which I achieved only rarely. It has a mix of reporting, history, personal stories and commentary.

Contents include Micheline Montreuil’s battle with Quebec’s Registrar of Civil Status to get her name changed, a piece on Ed Wood, and an opinion piece on trans fantasy fiction, “the erotica of our people”.

Triple Echo v3 no4

TrEcho3no4My friend Rachel Steen had a big impact on the look of Triple Echo through the collages she put together for me. Some of these illustrated articles, but mostly I just let her do her thing. The cover of this issue is one of my favourites, but the black and white reproduction didn’t do justice to her art. (Here is some of her work in colour.)

There are good stories in this issue too, including one on gay and lesbian history and what trans folks could learn from it. Also, did you know Ernest Hemingway’s born son was trans? Unfortunately, and perhaps not surprisingly considering the times she lived in and whose daughter she was, hers is not a very happy story.

I’ll create a separate page for Triple Echo after I upload more issues.


Drag Queen: A Study of the Life Style of the Drag Queen

DragQueen1Drag queen in its current definition implies performer, but historically it was used in a very different way. In 1972, when this booklet was published, a drag queen was a trans woman living within a gay milieu and generally surviving through prostitution. The author of this “study” regards the drag queen as male, which was typical of the time, despite her living as a woman. (She probably identified that way also.)

Superficially this is a fairly straight forward publication, but the passage of time leaves it open to many layers of interpretation. For example, are the drag queens living this way freely or is it simply because they have no choice?

This booklet was published by Seattle’s Empathy Press, which was a prolific trans publisher during the 1970s.




Transvestism1There is no publisher nor date to this booklet, but my guess is that it was published in the early 70s also. This publication has the requisite educational component that seeks to explain the causes of transvestism, but it also has a number of case histories, which are always fun to read despite being pilfered from other sources.

The educational aspect to the publications of this era is problematic. While it’s laudatory that trans folks, who are clearly the intended readership, would wish to understand themselves, inherent in this wish to understand is an acceptance of the transphobic notion of the time that trans folks are strange and need to be explained. That these publications regurgitate the psycho babble of the time was probably not helpful.