Thursday 23 March 2023

Interview with Basilia Loren

Monika: The sunny state of California is our next destination today where I am meeting a lovely guest. Basilia Loren is an American transgender activist and the author of "Secret Tear - Beginning stage of life" (2020). Hello Basilia! Thank you for accepting my invitation!
Basilia: You are very welcome Monika! It surely is a pleasure, thank you for having me.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Basilia: I'm more than happy to say a few words about myself, Monika. My name is Basilia Loren aka Silia Loren. I consider myself a strong and proud Transwoman, a spiritual being who strongly believes in the power of prayers! I was born in Stockton, California on July 4th, 1957. That said, makes me 65 years of age.
As far as my journey as a transwoman, I officially transitioned on June 20, 1983, and became post-op in September 1993. In those days keeping stealth was keeping safe. So I kept stealth until 2003 when I was introduced to the transgender community by Angela Burgess, unfortunately, she crossed the rainbow a few years back. This is when I heard the word, “Transgender” and other terms within the LGBTQ+ community that I was completely unaware of its existence.
My parents gave me my birth name, Albert Lopez Basilio. I'm multi-racial (Filipino, Mexican, Italian, Indian (Aztec), Spanish and Chinese) a Mestisa or Mestiza, in other words, an all-American Mutt. Basilia Loren is my chosen name.
Monika: Did you always know that you are a woman?
Basilia: As far as I can remember, I knew I was female. It was my body that made me feel different. It was my family and mainstream society who perceived me differently. Back in the day, I was a member of the Afro-Haitian dance troop and a male model. I won the title, “1976 Male Model of the Year” and “1977 Best Dressed Model”.
Albert Lopez Basilio -
born on 4 July 1957.
Most of my jobs were office jobs, like Secretary, Administrative assistant, Bank teller, Merchant teller, etc. At the present moment, I am an OTR (Over-the-road) Professional Commercial Truck Driver, aka a trucker. I have been driving trucks over the road for about 15 years and I really enjoy being a professional truck driver, but I will be retiring soon.
Monika: You mentioned you were a male model. How did you start modeling?
Basilia: Well, It all started when I was a senior in high school at Edison Sr. high, in Stockton, California during the 1974-75 school year. I was walking through ‘Toll Hall’ when my friend Richard came to me, who was my best friend at the time, told me that our school was looking for models for a fashion show and auditions will be held at the auditorium after school. So, Richard and I went to the auditions and we both were selected to participate in the fashion show.
During rehearsals, I met one gorgeous female model named Laveda, who was always flirting and ended up being my high school girlfriend, my cover-up rather. We never did anything sexual because I don’t bump purses (not saying that there is anything wrong with it). When we French-kissed, I imagined kissing a guy. She’s the one that introduced me to modeling outside of school events.
We modeled in fashion shows in different cities around the valley, the California state fair and compete in the ‘MODEL OF THE YEAR’ competition. I didn’t win the ‘Model of the Year’ award. I won the ‘Male Model of the Year’ award and Laveda won the ‘Female Model of the Year’ award.
Monika: And how did you become a dancer?
Basilia: Monika, I became a dancer during my first year of college while attending, San Joaquin Delta College in 1975. My friend at the time, Thomas, and I enrolled in the Afro-Haitian dance class. Oh my goodness, I was stiff as a board when we first started that class, but as time went by, this class and the dancing we were doing taught me to move my body in ways I never thought my body could ever move!
Your body had to be extremely flexible to perform Afro-Haitian dancing. My dance teacher, Linda Tregle, decided to organize an Afro-Haitian dance troop, so she picked out her best dance students. My friend Tommy (ex-friend because we had a fall-out, long story) and I made the cut! That’s how I became a dancer.
Monika: A nice story! What inspired you to write “Secret Tear”?
Basilia: Well, I suppose I can say I was inspired to write “Secret Tear” when I made a promise. It was back in the late 70s while under the influence and grieving because I truly had my doubts as far as believing in a power greater than my own! But, after my personal experience that night, early morning I surely have no doubt when it comes to my higher power. I will do everything possible to do what is expected of me with the Lord's guidance.
I have been asking myself for years and years, “If I will be capable of having the courage to succeed with my promise? But as long as I know that my higher power is with me, my fear will be obliterated!” I have a tendency to crumble if I get in front of a crowd to speak publicly, it’s due to an embarrassing moment when I was in elementary school. But, when it’s the right time, I will know, because I’ll feel it throughout my body and soul, a feeling that I cannot explain. But there is one thing I do know, the time is near because I am beginning to feel the vibes, slowly but surely.

My Mama and me!

Monika: Haha, you must be an angel!
Basilia: Let me be clear, I have done some crazy and foolish things in the past, and present and will continue to do crazy and foolish things because I'm a human being. I am very aware that I’m not an Angel, or the Holy Mary, far from it.
Another thing, being a temperamental person with a mouth that curses like a drill sergeant will make it extremely difficult to enlighten mainstream society without showing any signs of animosity. But lately, I have been feeling the vibes, which have been humbling me. Like I'm being guided and feeling the power of freedom. Anyway, I will know when it’s the right time to enlighten mainstream society 'without anger' (A extremely difficult task), of my experiences alone involving my existence and to enlighten others who are or will be going through their journey of true-self.
Monika: The book covers only a fraction of your experiences.
Basilia: Writing my book is my first step towards fulfilling my promise by sharing my first stage of being Albert. “Secret tear - Beginning stage of life” is the first book in my “Trilogy called Three stages of life!” But dismal and difficult circumstances during these past few years caused me to have writer’s block.
I am proud to say that my personal experiences involving Jesus Christ, my higher power, strongly inspired me. Most importantly, I intend to keep writing, I’m just on pause for now, until it’s time to continue my promise of being one of his messengers by openly sharing my experiences of my life’s journey while being my authentic nature.
Monika: “Secret Tear” is also full of references to Faith.
Basilia: Indeed! Faith means everything to me, it keeps me grounded per se. Faith gives me the confidence I need to endure and overpower the arrogance of ignorance, the malicious acts of stupefied behavior, and the acts of human nature’s unexpected and sarcastic way of questioning. Along with everything else that has crossed my path while experiencing my journey of transitioning as a pre-op, and beyond (as a post-op as well).
I truly believe that having confidence by believing in yourself is a blessing. But don’t get being confident mixed up with being overconfident! Being overconfident may lead you towards arrogance, and that might get you into a situation you might not get yourself out of, like being set up towards unpleasant experiences of public humiliation, being brutally beaten, or finding yourself in a position that could be life-threatening.
I believe without faith, I have nothing, with faith all my endeavors of impossible tasks can become possible. I definitely went through my fair share of life-threatening situations while going through my transition. Furthermore, I truly believe it’s the mystical power of faith that relates to my higher power that continues to protect me from harm. This is why my book is full of references to faith.
When I first got hired as an
Administrator with United Insurance
Company of America - 1980s
Monika: Does religion help to tackle gender dysphoria?
Basilia: To be honest Monika, I really didn’t know too much about gender dysphoria when I began my transition. Don’t get me wrong, I was given the pamphlet with the information describing gender dysphoria, during my medical evaluation with Dr. Laub at Stanford University in California. I just looked through it not realizing its importance. I was too busy being on cloud 9! I was completely overwhelmed with joy and curiosity that I was actually taking the first step towards my journey.
Not only that but I spent years trying to find the information I needed to get to this point. It was extremely difficult back in the 70s and 80s because the topic of being a transsexual was, Hush! Hush! Especially when you don't want anyone to know about you being a transsexual. My faith kept me in check per se, giving me the strength to be able to compose myself during the most difficult time of my life, and continues to do so.
I can recall going through a series of mood issues, such as feeling depressed while wondering if I can earn enough money to cover my surgery and having a paranoid feeling like time is running out! Being scared of being clocked! Feeling paranoid in public like everyone is watching your every move! Being impatient and wondering if I will find a man that will love me for me! Thoughts of that nature, just to name a few. But, going through gender dysphoria was the last thing that crossed my mind, since I didn’t know anything about gender dysphoria.
Monika: Why is God so merciless towards transgender people, placing their minds in the opposite gender bodies?
Basilia: Wow! Excellent question! Why is God so merciless towards transgender people, placing their minds in the opposite gender bodies you ask? To be quite frank with you Monika, only the Lord can answer that question with pure honesty! All anyone can do as a human being is speculate. Let me be clear, I am not here to proselytize but to speak from the heart.
As far as my thoughts of reckoning are concerned, all human beings are brought into this earth to serve the Lord’s (or higher power) purpose and we as human beings need to establish the reasoning behind that purpose, that’s why faith and spirituality are highly related to religion. I usually say the “Lord” because the Lord is my God and I put no other God before my Lord! Anything can be a God, even the Devil or idols are gods to some people.
I believe our Lord will work through us as transgender people or anyone who sees themselves differently, to enlighten the ignorance of society and the true nature of our existence and purpose. We as transgender people are human beings like everyone else in this world and should not be ashamed of our existence! We as transgender people are diverse in every sense of the word and capable of doing great things in this world without a doubt.
Monika: So no mercy?
Basilia: This is why I feel the Lord is so merciless towards transgender people to prepare transgender people to become warriors per se, so we can be victorious when it comes to defeating all challenges and obstacles relating to the vicious acts of criminal behavior that mainstream society has exposed transgender people throughout history.
Like all human beings, we especially must be strong and united in order to remain invincible in order to overpower and overcome all acts of ignorance and be immune to those that are merciless towards us within mainstream society. As you know Monika, we as transgender people go through a great deal of pain and sorrow, mentally, verbally, emotionally, and physically while questioning ourselves why are we born this way. The Lord doesn’t make mistakes, the Lord provides a purpose, and it’s us as transgender people to find and execute the reasoning behind that purpose.
Thirty Something.
I truly believe there is no such thing as “normal!” Only what society has created to what humanity has come accustomed to! Survival is the key to our existence and we as transgender people must survive to keep the path open for the stronger, prouder, and more courageous transgender people of future generations, like those who kept the path open before us!
Monika: Why did you choose Basilia for your name?
Basilia: I’m glad you asked that question, Monika! My reasoning behind choosing my name is very personal it’s giving my parents the respect of gratitude towards my upbringing. The way I see it is when it comes to choosing a name for ourselves, it’s a name we will be establishing as we transition. A great deal of thought, feelings, and decision-making comes to mind.
At first, I thought of two names before choosing Basilia. First I thought I should name myself, Jocelyn Jimenez. Then I came up with a second name, Candice Cortez, Candi for short. Suddenly I remembered someone’s driver’s license, his first name was Basilio. So I thought to myself, maybe I can name myself Basilia! All I have to do is change the last alphabet of my last name from an ‘o’ to an ‘a’ that simple! In other words, I can keep my last name by making it my first name, Silia for short. Because if I get married, I’ll always have my last name.
Now I had to figure out what my last name should be. Then I remembered how my sister and I thought that Sophia Loren was such a gorgeous Italian actress. Besides, I do have Italian in me anyway. So when I wrote it down, Basilia Loren or Silia Loren, it just felt right! It’s my way of keeping in touch with my family roots and that’s how and why I came up with my chosen name!
Monika: We all pay the highest price for the fulfillment of our dreams to be ourselves. As a result, we lose our families, friends, jobs, and social positions. Did you pay such a high price as well? What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Basilia: As far as friends, yes I lost a few, especially the ones that turned their backs on me. That’s when I realized that they were never my true friends, to begin with. I was blessed when it came to finding a job, it wasn’t too difficult, especially when you have a childhood friend who happens to be a Pharmacist. Someone who can back you up when it came to work experience on your resume.
But, there were times when I did have to walk away from a job due to someone knowing me before my transition or when a relative says something to one of my co-workers about my transition. Sometimes relatives can put you in difficult situations without them realizing it! As far as social positions, I had to re-establish that as Basilia. I paid my fair share of drama, but that didn’t stop me from moving on, it didn’t weaken me, instead, it made me stronger and more determined to continue, and that’s when my faith strongly kicked in.
Monika: Was your family surprised by your transition?
Basilia: Yes, my family members were surprised, they were completely surprised! But, I knew what I was getting myself into when I started my transition. I knew it was going to be difficult not for just me because I’m not the only one who will be transitioning, it’s everyone else involved in my life that will be transitioning as well.
It was my brother who gave me some good advice before going back to my hometown. I told my brother that I was going to go back to Stockton, California dressed as Basilia and ask Mama if I can transition at home. He told me not to go back dressed as Basilia because - "You don’t want to shock them! That wouldn’t be fair to them! The best way to break the ice is to go back home as Albert and tell Mama and the rest of our family what I’m planning to do. You got to give them benefit of the doubt first! Then come back to San Jose, so you can give them time to soak everything in before going back dressed as Basilia."
My wedding picture with John D.
4 May 1996
I was and still am extremely grateful for the advice he gave me and that’s exactly what I did, I gave my family the benefit of the doubt, and it helped me tremendously.
Monika: It was a good piece of advice. I did the same with my parents. How about your mother? Were you able to establish the daughter-mother relationship?
Basilia: Yes, I did get on well with my mother after my transition. When she first saw me as my true self, she smiled at me because she finally understood and realized right at that moment why her doctor had given her a strange look, after he looked at my genitalia, when I was born. That strange look baffled my mother for years and years.
She noticed the glow of fulfillment and my smile of contentment was written on my face. She told me she has never seen me so happy. But again she has always believed in me. To answer your second question, Yes indeed! Our mother-and-daughter relationship became stronger than ever. She made me realize that she loved me just as much as she did since I was born! Her love and support have carried me through the worst of times and the best of times.
This is why I made sure I took special care of her when the rest of my siblings suggested a nursing home when she became mentally and physically ill. I told one of my siblings while on the phone, when he was trying to convince me about putting Mama into a nursing home, I told him, "I know!" But after I hung up, I said to myself, "We're just going to give up on Mama when Mama needs us the most? Over my dead body! If she's put in a nursing home, she's just going to give up on herself!" I gave mama the same love and support she has given me till the day she crossed the rainbow! I truly miss her tremendously!


All photos: courtesy of Basilia Loren.
© 2023 - Monika Kowalska


  1. She is quite a treasure to our community and to her friends. I am proud to count her as one of mine. Her book is truly inspiring.

    1. Thank you my beautiful sister for your kind words! Love you always! ❤️

  2. She seems very kind. I drove a Big Truck for over a year, but I feel I relate to more of a deeper sense of her being than her present work and our shated elder years, (I am going to be 70 in October) I hope I can chat with her one day in depth. Although my experiences transitioning the last 6 1/2 years has left me a guarded person, I feel She has much I can learn from in a comforting manner! I Too wish to live the rest of life in faith daily with Christ God...

    1. Thank you for comment Aarica! I would be more than happy to chat with you. If I dont reply rapidly, it's only because I'm driving, you know what I mean. Send me a friend request and we can go from there! Respectfully!


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