To Survive On This Shore is a book that has impacted a number of people in my life very deeply, a book full of wisdom and humanity. It shares from the experiences of older transgender adults across the United States, told in their own words and with vivid full-page portraits that draw you into each person's narrative.
Representations of older transgender people are nearly absent from our culture and those that do exist are often one-dimensional. For over five years, photographer Jess T. Dugan and social worker Vanessa Fabbre traveled throughout the United States creating To Survive on this Shore: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Older Adults. Seeking subjects whose lived experiences exist within the complex intersections of gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, sexuality, socioeconomic class, and geographic location, they traveled from coast to coast, to big cities and small towns, documenting the life stories of this important but largely underrepresented group of older adults. The featured individuals have a wide variety of life narratives spanning the last ninety years, offering an important historical record of transgender experience and activism in the United States. The resulting monograph provides a nuanced view into the struggles and joys of growing older as a transgender person and offers a poignant reflection on what it means to live authentically despite seemingly insurmountable odds.
About the Author
Jess T. Dugan is an artist whose work explores issues of gender, sexuality, identity, and community. For the past decade, Jess has photographed people within queer and transgender communities, focusing on the complexities of identity, gender, and sexuality. Jess earned a BFA in Photography from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, a Master of Liberal Arts in Museum Studies from Harvard University, and an MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago. Dugan has exhibited at venues including the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, the Aperture Foundation, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College, the Catherine Edelman Gallery, the Griffin Museum of Photography, and at many colleges and universities throughout the United States. She has work in several museum collections. Dugan's first monograph Every Breath We Drew was published in 2015 by Daylight Books and coincided with a solo exhibition at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. In 2015, Dugan founded the Strange Fire Artist Collective to highlight work made by women, people of color, and LGBTQ artists. She is represented by the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago, IL. www.jessdugan.com Vanessa Fabbre, PhD, LCSW, is an Assistant Professor at the Brown School of Social Work and Affiliate Faculty in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Vanessa's research explores the conditions under which LGBTQ people age well, and what this means in the context of structural forces such as heteronormativity, heterosexism, and transphobia. Her research has been published in the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, Social Work, The Gerontologist, the Journal of Gerontological Social Work, and the Journal of Urban Health. Karen Irvine is Chief Curator and Deputy Director of the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago. She has organized over fifty exhibitions of contemporary photography at the MoCP and other venues including the Hyde Park Art Center, the Rockford Art Museum, the Lishui International Photography Festival, China, the Daegu Photography Biennale, South Korea, and the New York Photo Festival. Irvine has contributed texts to many publications including FOAM, Art on Paper, and Contemporary magazines and monographs including ), Paula McCartney: Non-flights of Fancy (Princeton Architectural Press), Barbara Probst: Exposures (Steidl), Christian Patterson: Redheaded Peckerwood (MACK).