Today is the first day of Transgender Awareness week, and today we at the AHC remember Shannon Moffat.
Shannon, known professionally as S. J. Moffat, transitioned later in life, and had a long and storied career in her 82 years. Born in 1927 in a small suburb of Pittsburgh, Shannon graduated high school in 1945, and enlisted in the US Navy, where she trained as an electronics technician and served for two years.
She then attended Amherst College, graduating in 1950, and was the assistant science editor for Henry Holt and Company, publishers in New York City, until 1952. From 1952 to 1954 she served in the U.S. Coast Guard, and in 1955 she moved to Palo Alto, California, and worked as a reporter for the Palo Alto Times.
From 1959 to 1966 she was an information officer at Stanford Medical Center, and from 1966 to 1981 she wrote freelance as a technical writer and science writer for general audiences. One report she authored in 1974 was entitled “”A Comprehensive Medical Education System for Wyoming: The Governor’s Steering Committee on Medical Education Development.”
From 1981 to 1989 she worked as a technical writer at Stanford University, and from 1989 to 1997 she worked as a medical writer for Syntex Laboratories. From 1997 to 2006 she was an assistant to Dr. Carl Djerassi, a chemist and Professor Emeritus at Stanford.
Moffat passed away in Palo Alto in 2009. She donated her papers to the American Heritage Center over a period of years, initially in 1983, with a large amount in 2002, and again in 2008.
The collection, totaling 86 boxes, contains her research and publications as a reporter, medical writer, and science and technical writer, as well as personal diaries from the 1950s and 1960s.
Also included in the collection are her research subject files, pamphlets, and diaries before and during her transition, which provide a unique look at how gender transition was discussed and presented in the 1970s and 1980s.
The S. J. Moffat papers are part of “Out West in the Rockies,” the American Heritage Center’s new collecting initiative to preserve and highlight narratives of LGBT people and communities in the Rocky Mountain west. More LGBT collections at the AHC can be found at ahc.uwyo.edu/outwest.