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Georgia Transgender Oral History Project: P

Panella, A.C.

Interviewee: A.C. Panella
Interviewer: Ashby Combahee
Date of interview: December 16, 2021

AC Panella (he/him/ they/them) is a doctoral candidate at Union Institute and University. He is in the humanities concentration and is getting certificates in museum studies and educational leadership. As a trans activist and teacher, he has worked on a variety of projects including the Trans Leadership Academy, The LA Trans Health Coalition, and has been an advisor to queer student organizations for 15 years. His research is focused on trans collective memory and history as it’s represented in visual and material culture. When he isn’t nose-deep in research, he is a full-time teacher, pet parent, and truncle (Trans-Uncle) to a super adorable three-year-old. This year, he will defend his dissertation on the role San Francisco’s Compton Cafeteria Uprising has on trans memory.

AC Panella, known to many as Panella, describes growing up in the 1980s-1990s between the California Great Central Valley, the Bay area, and Los Angeles. He discusses his early years living in an Irish-Italian family and navigating gender roles in the Catholic Church. Panella recalls being involved in high school theater and music clubs, which he describes as "the gay-straight alliance" of the time. As an adult, Panella double-majored in music performance and education as Sonoma State before getting into activist work against Prop 22 with Mario Savio. These efforts led to more advocacy, including organizing for environmental justice, urban planning, and anti-military groups. After completing a Master's thesis on the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Panella moved to the Los Angeles area to teach, where he got involved in campaigns through the Trans Leadership Academy. Panella reflects on his experiences with transphobia as a college professor while connecting with gender diverse students as a peer mentor. He makes observations about emerging trans cultures in the 1990s-2000s, including issues around medical access and tensions within the broader queer community. At the time of recording, Panella describes his doctoral program at Union Institute University, which focuses on trans collective memory, and he explains how this focus led him to intern with Georgia State University's Special Collections.

Pope, Nikita A.

Interviewee: Nikita (Storm) A. Pope 
Interviewer: Jonathan Wesley
Date of Interview: April 8, 2020

Nikita (Storm) Pope (she/her) is an alumni of Morehouse College.

Nikita Pope, a graduating senior in Sociology at Morehouse College, introduces herself. She shares that she decided to transfer from West Virginia University to Morehouse in 2017, mentioning her admiration for the college's history. Throughout the interview, Nikita discusses her experience as a trans woman attending a historically all-men's institution. She recalls encountering prejudice and negative treatment from staff and peers while highlighting the support she received from the college's queer community and alumni. To Nikita's knowledge, she is the first institutionally recognized trans woman to graduate from Morehouse College and possibly the first to be the main speaker at a Crown Forum. In response to a 2020 Morehouse policy that would admit trans men while excluding trans women, Nikita points out that women have a long history at Morehouse, referencing over thirty women who graduated from the college in the 1930s and many who have served as faculty and staff. Lastly, Nikita discusses the future of Morehouse, reflecting on how the college can improve the experiences of queer students.

Special Collections and Archives

Special Collections and Archives

Oral Histories at GSU

Gender and Sexuality Collections: Subject Guide

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Atlanta, Georgia 30303-3202

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