Interview with Allison Woolbert - Part 2

Monika: And what has drawn your attention recently?
Allison: One of the more interesting facts of the movement over the past few years is that in the United States, transgender rights have increased even more than sexual orientation rights in many ways. Transgender individuals now have full civil rights protection on the job. As time goes by, most of our rights have been won through courts, not civil rights movements. Policies continue to change quickly here, in that transgender individuals are just now being able to stand on our own with the sexual orientation movement being allies while having our own voice.
Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Allison: I became active in politics when I began working at the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office as the first Transgender Advocate in 2009. That was my first introduction into politics, and subsequently, I began working on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 2010.
Politically it was a very painful time given so many ego’s, with little cooperation, and such unhealthy lateral competition in the advocacy political sphere. It truly was a discouraging time and I found that working within the political organizations amounted at times to being used as a pawn to forward someone else’s agenda unrelated to transgender equality. Politics are critical to the movement. We need individuals who are savvy and able to work within a highly ego-charged environment and come away with a good partnership and outcome.

Allison's gender ceremony.

One of the most powerful political efforts that I felt I was qualified to accomplish was to speak about my life story. Our stories and the journey of transition are one the most powerful tools for changing hearts and minds that exist. For the first several years of transition, I spent the majority of my time telling my story, and then teaching what gender identity is. 
Every person who learned, who listened and understood a little more about gender identity, was able to then go make an impact with their friends, families, and coworkers. The downstream ripple effect is still continuing as others share my story, their own stories, and the quest for our equality.
In my mind, politics doesn’t necessarily mean spending time in the political world or marching in a parade. Politics can simply be teaching others through your story and your life about those who are transgender, and help change their hearts and minds to be more accepting of our lives.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Allison: There was a long time when I was alone after the transition started that I wondered if anyone could ever love a person who was transgender. I spent many dark and tough nights wondering if there are genuine people out there that want to have a deep, intimate honest relationship with transgender women.
I have been very fortunate to have two great individuals who deeply love me in my life. Both of these individuals have held me when my heart has broken, supported me through some very hard decisions, and were there after my surgeries and my extensive time recovering. They are truly some of the people I admire the most in the world, and I am grateful for those relationships.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Allison: Several years ago, I began writing my memoir. I’m in the process of working with an editor and published author to consider what the next steps are. There are several chapters left that I would like to write, and there are many adventures that I can share with the community and the world concerning my life. Each time I think I may be ready, I think of something new that may be a good idea to include. Hopefully in the next year or so, I will come to a point where I can publish my story.

With her friend.

Monika: Are you working on any new projects now?
Allison: The Transgender Violence Tracking Portal has been my core focus since last year. The amount of work and data within the project has substantially taken over most of my time.
Recently, I helped create the TERF Tracker project that will be coming online at soon. We needed a quick registry to track individuals that do harm to our community such as Transgender Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERF) through misgendering, dead naming, slandering, and distorting who transgender people are.
I’ve also become a co-host with the TheBiCast bisexual network weekly podcast program where I speak about bisexual and transsexual issues. You can hear that at website or download our podcasts on iTunes. 
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls struggling with gender dysphoria?
Allison: First and foremost be authentic and true to yourself. Try to not buy into the masks of what you ‘should be’ or as a gender that is portrayed in the media or by friends, family, or the public. We spent years living inside a false mask that hid our true beautiful nature and self. Above all, be true to yourself, even in the face of adversity.
We are a uniquely beautiful and talented group of individuals and even though it may seem that the struggle can overwhelm us, we are some of the strongest people I have ever met. Gender dysphoria is a serious condition and with the right support, treatment, and self-care, you can get through it and become one of the most amazing people who have ever lived. NEVER doubt yourself!
Seek out support wherever you can safely locate it. This journey is one of many people supporting the steps required to gain self-acceptance, self-awareness, and freedom to be who you really are.
Monika: Allison, thank you for the interview!


All the photos: courtesy of Allison Woolbert.
© 2014 - Monika Kowalska

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