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Interview with Brandy Pollard

Oral History interview withBrandy Pollard (0h 56mm 40ss), conducted by Misha Falk in 2019.

Brandy Pollard (she/her) begins the interview by discussing her early childhood and adolescence. Pollard reflects on being bullied in school leading to her quitting in grade ten despite having good marks. Pollard moves on to discuss her difficult marriage, struggle with her identity, and suicide attempt. She discusses seeking counselling and coming out to her sister, which leads to her coming out to her wife and children. Pollard talks about her transition and coming out at work which leads to an increasingly hostile work environment. Pollard moves on to talk about her identity and her relationship with other trans persons and the broader LGBTQ+ community. She discusses negative experiences engaging in the healthcare system as a trans person. Pollard ends the conversation talking about her poetry and art.

Sans titre

Interview with Ben Baader

Oral History interview with Ben Baader (01h 00mmm 57ss), conducted by Misha Falk in 2019.

Ben Baader (he/him) states that he had done a previous life story interview in 2015 with Oriol Poveda. Baader talks about coming to Winnipeg and getting a job at the University of Manitoba. Baader describes his experience of being trans as being “in-between” or “not-settled” but also “rich.” He describes his experience of being Jewish from Germany and his father surviving the Shoah as also contributing to this feeling of, “not being fully at home.” Baader describes how his ideas of identity and the gender spectrum have changed over time. He describes himself as “genderqueer,” but is comfortable not to categorize himself. Baader talks about the challenges of connecting with the trans community in Winnipeg as an older adult and his connections with the Orthodox Jewish trans community, as well as “Eshel,” an Orthodox LGBTQ+ organization. Baader references his experiences with transgender groups in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Indianapolis, as well as a German-Jewish lesbian group in Berlin. Baader talks about transphobia in the lesbian community. Baader talks about his experience with the health care system. Baader talks about trying to mentor the younger trans community and how things have changed for the newer generation.

Sans titre

Interview with Lara Rae

Oral History interview with Lara Rae (02h 13mmm 13ss), conducted by Misha Falk in 2019.

Lara Rae (she/her) begins the interview discussing her family and childhood. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Rae’s family moved to Toronto, Canada in 1972. Rae talks about hiding her identity from her parents and their attitudes towards transgender persons. Rae discusses her early days in comedy and her involvement with the Winnipeg Comedy Festival. Rae speaks at length about her struggle with gender dysphoria; although she was aware she was transgender at an early age she was apprehensive about transitioning. Rae came out as transgender in 2016 and began transitioning at a late age. Rae talks about only feeling comfortable with dating men following her transition and surgery. She describes previously having anxiety about gay men stemming from the trauma experienced from a sexual assault when she was nineteen. Rae talks about her time as a comedian in the 1980s and her departure from the comedy scene. Rae talks about her trans rights activism and talks at length about the financial, organizational and emotional challenges of transitioning. Rae discusses the complexities of navigating the gender spectrum. Rae talks about her relationship with younger trans people and the broader LGBTQ+ community. Rae discusses her experiences with the Manitoba healthcare system. Rae also talks about art that was important to her in relation to her transition.

Sans titre

Interview with Jarvis Brownlie

Oral History interview with Jarvis Brownlie (02h 08mmm 10ss), conducted by Misha Falk in 2019.

Jarvis Brownlie (he/him) begins the interview by stating that he identifies as a queer man who is “fully transitioned.” He discusses his childhood, growing up, and his family at length, including how his mother is still in denial of his transition. Brownlie discusses coming out as a lesbian in 1984, the nineties, and different terminology concerning LGBTQ+ identity and gender roles. Brownlie discusses his long-term relationship and the support he received from his partner when he came out as trans in the late-nineties as being rather rare amongst lesbian relationships. Brownlie discusses his own experiences with homophobia. He talks about his work experience in academia and living in Winnipeg. Brownlie discusses his frustration with taking testosterone, navigating the medical system, and critiques the gender binary system. Brownlie discusses at length what trans means to him and discusses trans activism, literature, organizations, workshops, and more. Brownlie talks about LGBTQ+ spaces in Winnipeg, Pride, and the drag community. He also discusses the AIDS crisis and government policy towards trans persons.

Sans titre

Interview with Mateo Llanillos

Oral History interview with Mateo Llanillos (02h 00mmm 49ss), conducted by Misha Falk in 2019.

Mateo Llanillos (he/him) begins the interview with a conversation about his birth in Masaya, Nicaragua and subsequent immigration to Winnipeg, Canada. He talks about his family and their relationship as well as his childhood. Throughout the interview Llanillos discusses many topics including: gender identity, gender dysphoria, gendered privilege, gender-based violence, and restrictions to transitioning. He talks about coming out to his family, the death of his father, and the relationship with his mother. Llanillos converses at length about what trans means to him. Llanillos also discusses his interactions with Rainbow Resource Centre, the wider LGBTQ+ community, and the importance of having older trans members mentor trans youth. Llanillos talks about his experiences with the healthcare system as a trans person. Towards the end of the interview Llanillos discusses trans authors, art, literature, and a Winnipeg-based trans zine.

Sans titre

Transgender Oral History

  • Collection
  • 2019-2020

This collection contains 5 interviews in total (8hh19mm49ss), conducted by Misha Falk in 2019.

The Transgender Oral History Project emerged out of a recognition that there were significant gaps in queer histories of the prairies, one of which being a tendency to overlook transgender experiences. By recording oral interviews with trans people, this project aims to help historians and community members gain a richer understanding of the lives and work of trans individuals in the region. Since labels for understanding diverse experiences of gender such as “transgender” have changed significantly in recent history and will likely continue to do so, these interviews focus heavily on personal understandings of gender identity.

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Roz Usiskin: A Life Lived

A video (31mm 32ss) created by Nolan Reilly (with technical assistance from the OHC) for Roz Usiskin’s memorial service held on October 16, 2023. The video is created using clips of the 7 interview sessions in this collection.

Interview with Roz Usiskin, Session 7

Oral History interview session (51mm 32ss) with Roz Usiskin, conducted by Nolan Reilly, Winnipeg Manitoba, 2018. Interview is indexed and transcribed in full.

Nolan Reilly, the interviewer, outlines the objectives and procedures for the interview with Roseline (Roz) Usiskin. Ms. Usiskin agrees to be recorded. Ms. Usiskin begins with reflections of historical and contemporary anti-Semitism. A recent, deadly attack on a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh prompted this discussion. She expresses concern for her children and grandchildren. Ms. Usiskin also raises her concern with the state of Israeli politics which disturbs her greatly. The subject of history of Zionism and Israeli is a subject raised on several occasions in previous in interview sessions. She next describes teaching at the University of Winnipeg for a number of years after gradation. However, she preferred to work in the community and left academia to become the first Executive Director of the newly created Multi-Cultural Resources Centre of Manitoba. She describes her extensive involvement with this organization that encouraged cooperation among Manitoba’s ethnic and immigrant communities. It was a very active organization under her direction, and she details much of that activity. Ms. Usiskin left this organization to become deeply involved through the Jewish Historical Society in the creation of the Jewish Heritage Centre to be located in the newly founded campus of the Jewish Asper Centre in south Winnipeg. She describes how these decisions reflected significant differences among Jews in Winnipeg about their relationship to the broader community. It also spoke to the different aspirations of many Jews who were moving from the North End neighbourhoods of their immigrant parents to the more affluent areas of south Winnipeg.

Sans titre

Interview with Roz Usiskin, Session 6

Oral History interview session (51mm 32ss) with Roz Usiskin, conducted by Nolan Reilly, Winnipeg Manitoba, 2018. Interview is indexed and transcribed in full.

Nolan Reilly, the interviewer, outlines the objectives and procedures for the interview with Roseline (Roz) Usiskin. Ms. Usiskin agrees to be recorded. Ms. Usiskin begins with a description of personal changes she confronted in the early 1960s with the death of her parents and several other individuals to whom she was close. Her children were more independent by this time and all these changes led her to consider what she might do going forward in her life. She decided to return to school and continue onto university. Mr. Usiskin supported this decision. The small business they owned was doing well, which meant they could afford Ms. Usiskin’s desire to attend university. She describes in detail her experience at university, including the lifelong friends she made there among the students and professors. Ms. Usiskin did exceptionally well in her undergraduate years at the University of Winnipeg. She next describes the completion of her MA degree in Sociology at the University of Manitoba. Her research that she describes here focussed on the history of the political, religious, and cultural diversity of Winnipeg’s Jewish community, a subject she continues to work on to this day. Ms. Usiskin provides a detailed description of being a married woman of thirty-nine with three children attending university with students much younger than herself. The feminist debates of the time led her to reflect on her view of the world. Her generation was politically radical but conventional in their personal lives. Discussions of gender and sexuality, for example, she explains introduced her to new and exciting perspectives. She concludes with a lengthy reflection on the fact that progressive changes are being made on issues of gender and sexuality but they made not be as radical as some think them to be.

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Interview with Roz Usiskin, Session 5

Oral History interview session (01hh 14mm 22ss) with Roz Usiskin, conducted by Nolan Reilly, Winnipeg Manitoba, 2018. Interview is indexed and transcribed in full.

Nolan Reilly, the interviewer, outlines the objectives and procedures for the interview with Roseline (Roz) Usiskin. Ms. Usiskin agrees to be recorded. Ms. Usiskin begins the session with a description of Sid Bagel, her brother in law, being forced to abandon a doctoral programme in the United States during the Cold War, because Ms. Usiskin’s best friend whom he was marrying was associated with the communist movement. They instead moved to Vancouver where he completed a doctoral programme at the University of British Columbia. Ms. Usiskin then provides a detailed description of her marriage to Larry Usiskin. The wedding was small with the ceremony held at the rabbi’s home and the reception at her family home. They initially resided in the home of Ms. Usiskin’s parents but moved at several years to a newer house in West Kildonan. Their son Michael was born in 1951. They would have two others boys in the next few years. Ms. Usiskin’s father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1950 and suffered greatly until his death in 1965. He was a great letter writer and conversationalists who grew increasingly frustrated with his declining ability to do either because of the disease. Ms. Usiskin describes the impact this had upon their family. Her mother died in 1966 from cancer. Ms. Usiskin continues the interview with her recollections of raising three boys in a busy household amidst the expectations of their extended families and the society of that era. She describes how her community activities involved many evening meetings, but Mr. Usiskin happily spent time with the children. The interview session closes with Ms. Usiskin reflecting on their hopes and expectations for their children as they grew to adulthood.

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