Jess T. Dugan documents the complexities of older trans people, GNC


While the growing visibility of the LGBTQIA + community is something to celebrate, older, gender non-conforming transgender people have continued to remain under-represented in this conversation. That said, a duo are now trying to help change that through a new photo exhibition dedicated to shining a light on these community elders, with a particular focus on their histories and the complexity of their intersectional identities.

Double To survive on this shore, the project is the result of Jess T. Dugan’s five-year journey across the country to photograph people from all walks of life. Along with social worker and assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis, Vanessa Fabbre – who facilitated the interviews that accompany these portraits – the collection seeks to document and present the accounts of older, nonconforming transgender adults. gender covering socio-economic class, race, age, ethnicity, sexuality, gender identity and geographic location.

According to Dugan, To survive on this shore aims to address the ‘idea of ​​invisibility versus visibility’ through ‘representations of many different ways of living and aging as a trans person’ in order to create a ‘greater awareness of understanding the issues’ facing this part of the community is facing.

“There are certain struggles that come from someone feeling that their authentic self is not being seen, but there is another type of struggle when their authentic self becomes more visible in society. been very prevalent in many stories, “Dugan said, before adding later that the series arose out of a desire” to record the stories of people who in many cases paved the way for the world in which we are living now “.

“I was worried their stories would be lost or forgotten,” Dugan continued. “And I wanted to save them and preserve them.”

Equally important is the exhibition’s desire to showcase the nuances of the individual experiences of these elders in depicting different facets of aging as trans and gender non-conforming adults, including beauty, struggles and joy they experience. Notably however, To survive on this shore is also obviously concerned with exploring how race and class can sometimes affect them “to a greater degree than their trans identity“. And this is all the more important as Dugan and Fabbre discovered that “socio-economic class has been found to be particularly important” because it has clearly “affected each person’s access to health care, to employment and housing, which impacted people’s lives in a way that was literally life or death, “especially when it comes to survival sex work.

After all, as Dugan added, “When people talk about ‘the trans community‘ as a cohesive group, this characterization overlooks how different each person’s experience can be depending on the other intersecting aspects of their identities. ” All of this means that part of tackling this misperception is showing society as a whole that trans and gender nonconforming adults are individuals with a myriad of life experiences, far more complicated than one. only “struggle”.

To survive on this shore takes place from June 19, 2021 to January 2, 2022 at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, NY. Learn more about the exhibition, here.

Photos courtesy of Jess T. Dugan / Barrett Barrera Projects

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