Queer Digital History Project


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Mapping TGNet (1994)


This map plots out the various bulletin board systems, or BBSes, that comprised TGNet, one of the first independent international transgender digital communication networks. Unlike forums on commercial platforms of the time, TGNet was maintained by a transgender-identified sysop who also ran TGNet's host BBS, Feminet. (While TGNet did use Fidonet technology, it wasn't carried on the Fidonet backbone, the coloquial term for Fidonet's main network.)

The map itself is derived from the listing included in William J. Shefski's Free Electronic Networks (1994), which collected listings for a variety of "free" BBS echoes. Each listing in Shefski's book contains a description of the network, a list of conference topics, alongisde a list of member BBSs, phone numbers, and the approximate physical location where the BBSs were based. I've reproducted the description and conference title list below.

Description: TransGenderNet is specifically for persons of transitional gender, and all others having a personal or professional interest in transgender topics.

Conference Topics:

Conference TitleSpecific Topic
DRESS*UP Dressing up
NEW_WOMEN New women
NEW_MEN New men
POLIGEND Politics of gender
D&S_FORUM D&S forum


In mapping this network, I've included all of this information in the relevant geographic map marker; when multiple BBSes were based in one city, I've included a list of the relevant BBS names. Shefski doesn't list boards' Fidonet addresses, which would be used to dial in via Fidonet. While boards could be built on Fidonet technology, not all of them participated in the Fidonet network. Given its relevance, however, I've chosen to include information on the Fidonet Zones and Regions: States/provinces are colored by  Zone, and clicking on a state/province will offer more information about its Region. Though a board's Region number doesn't appear in an individual BBS's address, regions did offer a loose structure for social and administrative organization of the wider network.

And finally, it should be noted that Shefski's TGNet list, like all BBS lists, is only accurate to the moment it was published. Since BBSes were prone to disappear with warning, lists were often unreliable resources. Thus, this map should best be understood as single snapshot of a fluctuating and shifting network.

Click on the screenshot below to proceed to the map.