From Andrea Blanch’s interview with Jess T. Dugan for Musée Magazine:

I’ve always struggled with how much information to give about someone’s specific identity versus how much ambiguity to leave. My work is about something larger than just the trans identity. It’s definitely about something larger than just the body. I’ve always been interested in talking about someone’s internal and psychological identity. I never wanted to reduce my portraits to figuring out who is this and who is that. With the trans work, I’ve always only listed the work by people’s first names. I often leave enough clues or signifiers to understand some things about their gender or their body, but I’ve always heavily resisted pinning too specific an identity on any portrait. It’s too complicated and kind of impossible. Many people I photograph, their identities are shifting or are at an earlier point in their transition. How they think about their identity changes. It’s a slippery slope, to try to start labeling everyone. Also, more conceptually, I want viewers first and foremost to engage with them as a human, and for all of the layers about gender and identity to come as a second wave of thought. I’ve had people ask me why I didn’t photograph more surgeries. For a long time in my work, I really pushed back against this more mainstream idea that a trans identity is all about the body and the physicality. I wanted to make a portrait that went beyond the surface and the specific gender, but also included that element.

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Browse all of Jess T. Dugan’s work at CLAMP.