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Jess T. Dugan
Vision 2020

September 18, 2020 – April 25, 2021
Perlman Photography Gallery
Free Exhibition

Mia’s yearlong exploration of contemporary photographic portraiture continues with a selection of eight photographs from Jess T. Dugan’s series “To Survive on This Shore: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults,” a project produced in collaboration with Dugan’s partner, Vanessa Fabbre.

Recognizing the dearth of complex, human-centered storytelling about the lives of transgender and gender-expansive older adults, Dugan and Fabbre—a social worker and assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis—traveled the United States to gather stories from individuals whose activism and experiences influenced the course of LGBTQIA2S+ history.

In Dugan’s own words, “The resulting portraits and narratives provide a nuanced view into the struggles and joys of growing older as a transgender person and offer a poignant reflection on what it means to live authentically despite seemingly insurmountable odds.”

Listen to the Artist Speak About the Work

Explore the Exhibition


“I was not necessarily activated around LGBT issues until they became even more personal.”

See the full portrait and read Andrea’s narrative

Dee Dee Ngozi

“This coming into my real, real fullness of knowing why I was different is because I was expressing my spirit to this world.”

See the full portrait and read Dee Dee Ngozi’s narrative

Duchess Milan

“None of us gets it all. Okay? But what we do have, we can polish. We can polish it, honey, till it blinds them.”

See the full portrait and read Duchess Milan’s narrative

Hank and Samm

“I always say, ‘I’m just Hank. I’m not he, I’m not she, I’m just Hank. I’m who I’ve always been.’” (Hank)

“She was different from anybody I have ever met in my whole life and I knew that she would be in my life for the rest of my life.”(Samm)

See the full portrait and read Hank and Samm’s narrative


“The advantage to being isolated, it gives you permission to really be who you are.”

See the full portrait and read Helena’s narrative

Sky and Mike

“Life really begins when you step out of fear.” (Sky)

“Sky’s the first person I met who I could see growing old with, and that’s one of the reasons we’ve stayed together.” (Mike)

See the full portrait and read Sky and Mike’s narrative


“I have never been a case of being in the closet. I’ve always been wide open.”

See the full portrait and read Tasha’s narrative


“Family has been my worst enemy. Everybody else has embraced me.”

See the full portrait and read Vanessa’s narrative

Jess T. Dugan. American, born 1986. Hank, 76, and Samm, 67, Little Rock, AR, 2015. 40 x 32" pigment print. Ed. #2/5. L2019.158.6.