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Shay Olmstead

Portrait of Shay Ryan OlmsteadPhD Candidate (ABD)

Fields: Gender and Sexuality History; Modern U.S. History with a focus on Gender, Labor, and Capitalism; Inter-American Indigenous History with a focus on economic self-determination
Faculty: Julio Capo, Jr.
solmstead@umass.edu

Shay Olmstead (they/them) is a doctoral candidate studying the history of queer and (trans)gender policies in the mid-twentieth Century United States.  Their dissertation, provisionally titled “Refuse to Run Away”: Employment Discrimination Lawsuits as Transsexual Activism, 1970-1990, uses newspaper articles, archival materials, court documents, and oral histories to examine employment-discrimination lawsuits brought by transsexual plaintiffs.  It argues that these lawsuits constituted a heretofore unexplored type of activism in which a small, often disconnected contingent of transsexual workers attempted to utilize institutions of power—namely the courts and the mass media—to improve the lives of transsexuals nationwide. 

Shay received their bachelor’s degree in American Indian Studies from Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota and went on to receive both a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Teaching from Fitchburg State University and a M.A. in History from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  They have comprehensive training in the fields of Modern US Gender and Labor history, the History of Sexuality and Gender, the History of Capitalism, and Native American History and Economic Self-Determination.  

When they are not teaching, writing, or thinking about queer history, Shay can be found riding horses, hiking with their dog, Scout, baking, sewing, or otherwise enjoying life in the Pioneer Valley.