Abstract

In 1917 San Francisco Police Chief Jesse Brown Cook pasted a photograph of Garaldine Portica into his personal scrapbook, annotating it as a document of arrest, deportation, and gender transgression. This essay situates that document within the coconstitutive forces of personal and public narrations of embodiment, identity, and nation in the United States in the early twentieth century. While Cook's annotation is concerned with narrating the gender transgression of a body that did not yet exist under the sign of “trans*,” this essay's counterarchival methodology treats that body, or at least the Portica/Cook document, as an object for inclusion in a future trans* archive and as an appropriate object of study for an exploration of trans* archival praxis. It suggests that trans* archival methodologies that seek to recuperate or resignify documents produced in the service of regulatory/judicial/medical archives are engaged with reading the negation animating these artifacts as the very sign of their (now) trans* signification.

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