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Marlene Somers Collection

Identifier: Tretter-356

Scope and Content

The Marlene Somers Collection (1950-2010) is representative of the publications that were accessible to a person of relative affluence and mobility in the United States from the mid-twentieth century up until the early 2000s. There is very little of Somers herself represented within the collection, save for a few annotations in books and magazines, lipstick prints, and five sheets of personal writing that include a diary entry. The material includes transploitation pornographic magazines and forced feminization serials as well as scientific articles concerning the topic of transsexualism and periodicals generated by and for transgender communities.

Tapestry, Transgender Community News, International Trans Script, UTTS(United Transvestite and Transsexual Publication), Transvestia, TV World Directory, International Way Out World Tranny Guide, and Drag Magazineare examples of publications that were generated by and for transgender communities. The content of these publications ranges from opinion pieces by trans* columnists, resources for changing identity documents, resources for accessing gender affirmation services, listings of transgender organizations, reprints of mainstream reporting on trans*-related issues/events, and personal ads.

While many of the assorted TV (Transvestite) magazines and tabloids such as Shemaleor TV/TS Chronicle, were certainly consumed by transgender people, the target audience of many of these publications was arguably people that fetishize TV and TS (Transsexual) bodies, which is why they have been described as ‘transploitation.’ The pulp novels are geared towards a similar audience.

The pocket-sized Forced Femininity, Exotique, and Thrills and Frills, are fantasy serials dominated by ‘forced feminization’ narratives that frequently involve powerful cisgender women, bondage, and humiliation.

The books in this collection such as Transgender Historyby Susan Stryker and Gender Outlawby Kate Bornstein are representative of a body of literature by trans* people that challenge (among other things) the dominant two-gender system, heteronormativity, and transphobia.


  • Creation: 1950-2010


Language of Materials

Collection material in English

Restrictions on Access

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.

Restrictions on Use

Please contact staff regarding copyright status of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under fair use provisions of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code).

Biographical Sketch

This collection was donated by Marlene Somers, a closeted trans* woman from the Minneapolis area. Marlene has lived her daily life as a married family man, keeping her female self in a storage locker, only able to emerge on special occasions. Marlene has collected materials about transgender issues since the 1950s and has donated them to the Tretter Collection in the hope they may help others struggling to find their true selves


7 boxes (8.75 linear feet)


The Marlene Somers Collection includes magazines, tabloids, pulps, and books that contain subject matter related to transgender, transvestite, and transsexual identity categories.

Source of acquisition

The collection was donated by Marlene Somers in 2014.

Processing Information

The Marlene Somers Collection was processed by Emily Atchison in 2015 as part of a project funded by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society.

Marlene Somers Collection, 1950-2010
Emily Atchison, Amanda Wick
February 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Jean Nickolaus Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies Collecting Area