Sunday, 17 February 2013

Interview with Allison Lenore Annalora

Monika: Today I have invited a special guest. Allison Lenore Annalora is an American cabaret singer and hairstylist. She was born in Alderwood Manor, Washington, as Larry Duane Miller, and then given up for adoption at birth in May of 1955. Alison is working on a biography to be published in 2016. She lives in Arizona. Hello Allison! It is a pleasure to interview such a remarkable woman as yourself.
Allison: Thank you!
Monika: What do you do for a living these days?
Allison: I work full time as a hairstylist in a Spa at a large resort/casino in Rancho Mirage’, California, and sing in a Cabaret Show once a month at a local restaurant.
Monika: Where did you grow up?
Allison: Seattle, Washington.

As Marilyn in a show in 1978.

Monika: Could you describe your childhood? When did you feel for the first time that you should not be a boy or man?
Allison: My childhood was horrible. From the age of 3 years old, I believed I was a girl. My adoptive parents were not very understanding or tolerant.
Monika: For most transgender girls, the most traumatic time is the time spent at school, college, or university when they had to face lots of discrimination. Was it the same in your case?
Allison: Absolutely. I was the kid everybody picked on. However, I’m going to my class 40th class reunion this summer, everybody knows, everybody is supportive and they asked me to sing at the reunion event!
Monika: At what age did you transition into a woman? Was it a difficult process? Did you have any support from your family or friends? Did it have any impact on your job situation?
Allison: The first time I attempted it, was at age of nineteen, but in 1974 I had no support, so I de-transitioned. I successfully started at the age of 54 and completed my transition in one year at the age of 55. My friends, family, and co-workers were so supportive that I still feel like the luckiest woman in the world!!! No problems, no regrets. This is how much things have changed in 40 years!

Another show in Seattle, Washington, 1978.

Monika: Many transgender ladies go to Thailand for their gender reassignment surgeries. You had your own operation performed by Dr. Marci Bowers. Were you satisfied with the operation?
Allison: I was very satisfied! My local gynecologist has complimented Dr. Bowers on her surgery!
Monika: Did you have any problems with passing as a woman? Did you undergo any cosmetic surgeries?
Allison: I don’t have much trouble passing at all. I had facial surgery years before in my early thirties, I then had trouble passing as a man!
I’m glad I had the surgeries before. It helped my friends and biological family accepting my transition. They all say Allison is a ”better fit”.
Monika: At that time of your transition did you have any transgender role models that you could follow? What was your knowledge about transgenderism?
Allison: I found out about Christine Jorgensen, Bambi, Coccinelle, and April Ashley at 10 years old in a “Police Gazette“ tabloid. They were my role models. After that, I read every book and magazine I could get my hands on. I came out to my adoptive parents as transsexual at age 14. That was 1969. However, that did not go well.

First try at transitioning, 1975.

Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Allison: Having the courage to be myself… fully.
Monika: For many years you used to live as a gay man living in a relationship with your male partner. What was his reaction when you told him about your transition into a woman?
Allison: He was very upset, I had expressed my desire to transition to him many times over the years. However, in the end, we broke off our twenty-year relationship, but we are now the best of friends!!!! He helps me shop for clothes.
Monika: What did you feel when you were finally a woman?
Allison: Relief and pure joy!!!
Monika: What do you enjoy most in being a woman?
Allison: Small things, like talking with genetic women about girl things, shopping… looking in the mirror, and knowing I’m my true self. Loving my very heterosexual boyfriend.
Monika: Are you a feminist?
Allison: Yes, but not radical. I still love a good Beauty Pageant.
Monika: What is your general view on the present situation of transgender women in American society?
Allison: We have a long way to go, but so encouraged that transwomen are running for political offices and two transwomen have been allowed in Pageants for Miss Universe (Miss Canada and Miss California 2013).

As Bette Midler, 1980.

Monika: We are witnessing more and more transgender ladies coming out. Unlike in the previous years, some of them have the status of celebrities or are really well-known, just to mention Lana Wachowski in film-directing, Jenna Talackova in modeling, Kate Bornstein in academic life, Laura Jane Grace in music or Candis Cayne in acting. Do you think we will have more and more such women?
Allison: Yes! Of course! The more transwomen come out, the more women will have the courage to.
Monika: At the same time sometimes we get horrible news about transgender women being killed or beaten just as in the infamous case of Chrissy Polis that was beaten by two teenagers in Macdonald’s because she used the ladies’ toilet. How can we prevent it?
Allison: My answer to that is: First, as a community, we need to be more open and honest about who we are. Educating the public is a big plus in this regard. However, there will always be haters in the world, no matter what we do. I have no answers about the bathroom situation. I’ve never faced that situation as Allison, but I never go to places I feel unsafe. I learned that lesson early, as a feminine gay man. I had a lot of trouble back then… constant harassment. Thank God, I pass now.
A lot of girls have gotten killed because they go stealth, then enter into a relationship with a straight man and not tell them. That’s when the trouble starts. People always find out somehow. I’ve told every man I’ve dated, on the first date or phone conversation.
I have never had any trouble and now in a long-term relationship with a very straight, macho guy, who took a year to decide to commit, because of concerns over how his friends and family react to my “news“. They didn’t have a problem at all because we were honest. I’m very close to his family. 
2011 Cabaret Show.
Monika: Do you think that in our lifetime we could live to the day when a transgender lady could become the President of the USA?
Allison: I PRAY SO! Let’s get a genetic woman elected first, then we’re next!
Monika: You are interested in astrology. How do you pursue this hobby?
Allison: I’ve been a professional for thirty years. However, my singing career has taken most of my free time now. Now, it’s more of a hobby.
Monika: You are a singer. What kind of songs do you sing? How did you develop your career as a professional singer?
Allison: My biological family (I was adopted and found my family in 1992) are all singers, so I come by it naturally. I had been singing as a gay man in my current Cabaret Troupe, so I took a year off, practiced, and recorded myself singing in a higher key, more female.
When I was ready, I entered a talent contest in a “straight” theater venue and was chosen as one of 25 finalists, out of 100. Practice makes perfect! I sing mostly 1960’s Pop, Standards, and a little Broadway.
Monika: You also work as a hairstylist and make-up artist. Do you have many clients? Which hairstyles and make-ups are popular this year?
Allison: Yes, I’m very busy. The trends the public follows are what the stars in Hollywood wear. They are the public’s role models.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Allison: I have, but having trouble getting them published… maybe one day!

Talent contest, 2012.

Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Allison: I love clothes, I’m either casual or very dressed up for my shows… not much in between!! Black is my “go-to" color. I tend toward tailored, but feminine.
I try to stay as current as possible… always reading fashion magazines!! I have an image to maintain!!! I go up and down in my weight since the surgery… more curves!!!!
Monika: Are you involved in the life of your local LGBT community?
Allison: I am little. I’m out in the community at large, but live a very modest lifestyle with my boyfriend. Palm Springs has a large LGBT community. I sing at the Pride Festival every year.
Monika: Could you say that you are a happy woman now?
Allison: I’ve NEVER been happier!
Monika: Allison, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Allison: Thank you!!!!!


All the photos: courtesy of Allison Lenore Annalora.
© 2013 - Monika Kowalska

Songs of Allison Lenore Annalora:









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