Trancestors: Challenging the gender binary in the 19th century

McCord Discoveries

Friday, April 8, 2022, at 12 p.m

William Notman, A Gent for Mrs. Austin, 1889, II-90236, McCord Museum

Trancestors: Challenging the gender binary in the 19th century

McCord Discoveries

Although there is a lot of talk today about gender fluidity and identity performance, this talk by Hélène Samson, Outgoing Curator, Photography, looks into the past to spotlight cases of gender change documented in 19th-century photographs. An examination of the Museum’s Photography collection has located at least five such portraits, notably one entitled “Gent for Mrs. Austin”, found in the Notman Photographic Archives.

Researching these extraordinary portraits includes acknowledging the context in which photographs were produced and used. The discovery of such portraits reveals the diversity of representation found in the Photography collection and suggests that the collection be explored for other non-traditional social models.

Lecture in French, followed by questions in French and English.

Hélène Samson

Outgoing Curator, Photography, at the McCord Museum, Hélène Samson earned a PhD in art history from Université de Montréal, receiving a doctoral fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Her academic background in psychology and art history informs her special interest in portrait photography as a means of expressing narrative identity.


Free online activity, in French, presented on Friday, April 8, 2022, at 12 p.m.
The event will take place online on Zoom and be broadcast live on the Museum’s Facebook page.
Register now: Zoom Registration Facebook Event

McCord Discoveries

The McCord Museum presents a virtual lecture series: McCord Discoveries. Museum experts will share their recent discoveries about the collections and archives.
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