The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Allison making NC history as first trans* party chair candidate

Janice Covington Allison is making history as the first transgender candidate for the North Carolina Democratic Party chair, but the journey is not without roadblocks.

Allison made waves in 2012 when she became the first transgender delegate to attend the Democratic National Convention. By announcing her candidacy for the party chair position on Jan. 5, she is yet again leading the charge for the transgender community. Elections will be held on Saturday, Feb. 7, in Raleigh. If elected, one of Allison’s main goals is to negotiate a statewide employment nondiscrimination act that is inclusive of the whole LGBTQA community.

Nondiscrimination laws are important because, even in progressive circles, members of the trans* community still face discrimination.

At a candidate forum on Jan. 20, Allison’s opposition, former Rep. Patsy Keever, was captured on an audio recording calling Allison a man, according to QNotes, an LGBT news source based in Charlotte. The comment was made during Allison’s forum address, in which she spoke of the identities she claimed during the 2012 DNC delegate elections.

“I ran as a senior citizen … I ran as a disabled vet … I ran as a woman … I ran as LGBT. And what did I leave out? There’s one more,” Allison said during the address. Keever then responded “a man.”

Regarding the incident, Allison told The Guilfordian, “I don’t know whether she meant it or whether it was a slip, or whether it was just ignorance. I don’t know.”

Allison and Keever have since made amends. “Water under the bridge,” said Allison. “That’s the way I thought and that’s why I hugged (Keever) at the forum last weekend. I’m not excusing her for doing it, but I just kind of felt sorry because people were beating up on her.”

Many North Carolina LGBTQA leaders continue to endorse Keever. Allison said, “Well, you know, it’s their privilege to support anybody they desire. That’s what democracy is about. But I do feel kind of hurt.”

She added that many gay people, men in particular, do not support trans* people.

“They think of us as gay men who dress like women, and that’s not what we’re about,” said Allison. “You know, hey, if we’re going to be with you and part of the acronym, we’ve got to be accepted by all.”

Despite the controversial nature of Allison’s candidacy, a win for her would be important for many people.

“I think it is very important to include trans individuals within leadership and political positions,” said junior Cara Messina. “Visibility is important and it is necessary to start larger conversations about inclusivity and acceptance.”

This view is echoed by other Guilford College students.

“(A trans* party chair) would honestly be the greatest thing to actually happen,” said sophomore Taylor Brown, who describes himself as transmasculine and gender-fluid.

“It would be a big change for our state’s history but not only the state’s history but for the LGBT community as well,” said Brown. “It would also show, within our LGBT community, that trans* people can also make a difference and not just lesbians or gay members,”

For Brown and other young members of the trans* community, Allison has some advice.

“Don’t be afraid of the world,” said Allison. “Go out there and just grab it by the tail and shake it and find out what falls out. Just be you. Don’t be afraid. I used to walk in the shadows on the sidewalks and hide. It’s not like that anymore … things are changing for the good”.

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