Beyond Leisure Studies: A Labour History of Male to Female Transsexual and Transvestite Artists in Montréal, 1955-1985

  • Viviane Namaste Concordia University
Keywords: Transsexuals, Artists-CAnada, Sex roles, Work environment,


This paper presents the results of an oral history project on transsexual and transvestite artists in the Canadian city of Montréal, 1955-1985. Through interviews and archival research, I examine the working conditions of these artists in the city's post-war cabarets and nightlife. Theoretically and methodologically, this research parts ways with current studies of transsexuality, as well as lesbian/gay oral history projects. My research illustrates the centrality of work to an adequate historical understanding of the emergence of transsexuality in Québec. As such, I argue for the integration of a labour analysis in both historical and contemporary considerations of transsexual lives.

Author Biography

Viviane Namaste, Concordia University
Viviane Namaste is an assistant professor of Women's Studies at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Concordia University, Montréal, Québec. She is the author of Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People (Chicago:University of Chicago Press, 2000). This article has been adapted from a book to appear under the title, «C'était duspectacle! » L’histoire des artistes travestis et transsexuelles à Montréal, 1955-1985 by McGill-Queen's University Pressin 2005.