Joanna Clark (Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark)

Joanna Clark at Her AEGIS System.jpg

Joanna Clark photographed at her AEGIS computer system, courtesy of Transas City via the Digital Transgender Archive.


Joanna (Sister Mary Elizabeth) Clark is a transgender and HIV/AIDS activist who founded AIDS Education and Global Information System (AEGIS), a database of AIDS information and research. Clark's activist career began in 1977, when she successfully fought her dishonorable discharge from the Navy Reserves for being transgender. She continued to advocate for changes in California law for transgender individuals, and operated the transgender clearinghouse J2CP Information Services with Jude Patton throughout the 1980s.

In 1988, Clark took religious vows and the name Sister Mary Elizabeth. Following her encounters with several People With AIDS (PWAs) while working in a rural Missouri community, in 1991 she was inspired to found AEGIS. For her work Clark received the Award of Courage from the American Foundation for AIDS Research, the Jonathan Mann Award for Health and Human Rights from the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, the Joan of Arc award from the Orange County Community Foundation, and the Crystal Heart award from the San Diego GLBT Center.

Clark stepped down from the leadership of AEGIS in 2004 and now works as an environmental activist.



Advertisement for J2CP Information Services, originally run in the June 1990 issue of Twenty Minutes, the newsletter of The XX Club.

1986: J2CP Information Services founded.

J2CP emerged as a successor to the Janus Information Facility, an organization headed by psychologist Paul Walker. Janus had itself taken over many of the Erickson Education Foundation's functions following the closure of its offices in 1977. J2CP was named for Clark and its other founder, Jude Patton, whom Clark had previously worked with at Renaissance: Gender Identity Services

J2CP remained an important source of information into the early 1990s, when the Atlanta-based American Educational Gender Information Service (AEGIS), led by activist Dallas Denny, took over publishing and distribution of its materials.


Screenshot of, the first incarnation of AEGIS online (archived December 10, 1997)

1997: AEGIS moves to the World Wide Web.

As access to the World Wide Web increased throughout the mid-1990s, AEGIS shifted from a BBS to a fully fledged website. AEGIS would move to in 2000, in recognition of its non-profit status. The site would be honored throughout its tenure, including a 1999 nomination for inclusion in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme, which aims to preserve valuable holdings in archives and libraries around the world.

2013: AEGIS closes its doors and donates database.

Though AEGIS had been successfully grant-funded for many years, by 2013 the organization was struggling to find new funders and officially closed its doors. Though still involved, Clark had previously stepped down as director of operations for AEGIS in 2004. Following AEGIS's closure, Sister Mary Elizabeth donated AEGIS's substantial archive to several organizations, including the National Institutes for Health (NIH) and i-Base in the UK.

Further Resources

Archival Documents

Interviews, Secondary Material, and Other Works