We approach this paper with a shared investment in historical and contemporary representations of trans and gender non-conforming people, and our individual research in the archives of early US Gender Clinics. Together, we consider what is at stake—or what might be possible—when we connect legacies of photography used as diagnostic tools in gender clinics with snapshots of early, community-based gatherings, and the presence of trans people in contemporary art. From the archives of Robert J. Stoller and photos of Casa Susanna, to the collaborative photography of Zackary Drucker and Amos Mac, and the biometric data art-theory experiments of Zach Blas, we engage a series of image-based projects, which animate underlying questions and socio-political debates about the politics of visuality, and visibility’s impact on trans and gender non-conforming people. Moreover, we argue that rhetorical strategies of proof—from conditions verified in clinics to shared existence through photography—are tethered to, and thus trapped by, the logics and discipline of legibility and re-institutionalization.
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