“I never lost a fight. Intrepid LGBTQ activist Janice Allison has died in Charlotte

NEWTON, NC (The Charlotte Observer) – In her typically fearless and provocative way, Charlotte resident Janice Covington Allison once told a reporter, “I’ve never lost a fight.”

“And standing at 6ft 2in and wearing 4in heels is not trying to blend in,” she said.

When she made the remarks to a reporter from Charlotte Observer, Allison had just been escorted by police to the women’s toilet at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center in 2015.

Allison, a transgender woman, deliberately visited the washroom, amid a controversial Charlotte City Council debate over whether Charlotte should expand non-discrimination laws to include lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

For Allison, the debate was real.

She had been a soldier, volunteer fire chief, owner of a construction company, and the first transgender woman elected to delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

She was not going to tolerate being excluded from the bathroom. On behalf of not only herself but other transgender people, she was taking yet another fairly public position.

Janice Covington Allison, 74, died in a Charlotte hospital on Friday after a long illness.

Allison was “a wonderful soul, who worked tirelessly for her country and her community,” her friend September McCrady from Statesville said on a Go Fund Me page she set up to raise money for Allison’s funeral expenses. .

McCrady confirmed Allison’s death in an update on the page.

PRAISE OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY NC

In a statement released Saturday, the North Carolina Democratic Party said Alison was “a fearless advocate for LGBTQ + and champion of the transgender community.”

“We must honor his legacy as we continue the fight for full equality and justice,” the statement said.

LGBTQ advocates compared her visit to the restroom to blacks who sat at all-white lunch counters in the 1960s. Opponents said she was a violator.

Allison?

She expected to anger both sides, including part of the lesbian and gay community who berated her on social media for doing “negative” publicity for their cause, the Observer reported to the time.

Allison said she had considered suicide, “but I can’t give in and give them what they want,” referring to criticism from the transgender community.

A native of Wilmington, Delaware, Allison first realized she was different when she was 11, she told the Observer in 2015. A nurse examining children interested in sports noted that Allison was “not developing physically exactly the way a boy should.”

DAD’S WRATH

A doctor suggested weekly injections of testosterone for two years, she said, but after the first month her father began to abuse her verbally and physically, she said, “because I was growing. as a girl and not as the boy he wanted “.

“The pain was unbearable, both physically and mentally. … After several trips to the basement, my mother could no longer bear my cries. She went down to the basement with a butcher’s knife and told him that if he touched me again she would kill him.

At 16, Allison said, she kept a box of women’s clothing padlocked in her bedroom. She wore the clothes while visiting another transgender person.

Her dad broke into the club one day, but at that point, she said, she was too fat to beat.

ARMY DURING VIETNAM

She enlisted in the military at the age of 17 in 1964 and served in Vietnam and Korea as a combat engineer. “I did it out of patriotism but also because I was pretty much alone in the world,” she told the Observer.

His first job outside of the military was as a room attendant at the historic St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. She said she was expecting Ronald and Nancy Reagan, actor Gene Autry and 1960s vocal group The Supremes.

She was also arrested a few times, she said, when San Francisco police raided gay nightclubs.

For years she lived privately as a woman but dressed as a man for work.

She met his future wife, originally from North Carolina, in 1971. They soon married and had the first of two children.

DOUBLE LIFE

They moved to the Charlotte area in the 1970s. Dressed as a man, she was the Volunteer Fire Chief in Cabarrus County.

“I lived two lives, screaming for men to climb a ladder and put out a fire during the day, and go to clubs at night as Janice… wearing a miniskirt and heels,” she said. declared.

She finally stopped pretending in 2005, she said. “It was just the right time,” she said.

In 2012, North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District elected her the first transgender woman to represent the state at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte that year.

In 2013, she was elected the first transgender member of the Mecklenburg County Women’s Democratic Association and a voting member of the state’s Democratic Women’s Association.

They moved to the Charlotte area in the 1970s. Dressed as a man, she was the Volunteer Fire Chief in Cabarrus County.

“I lived two lives, screaming for men to climb a ladder and put out a fire during the day, and go to clubs at night as Janice… wearing a miniskirt and heels,” she said. declared.

She finally stopped pretending in 2005, she said. “It was just the right time,” she said.

In 2012, North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District elected her the first transgender woman to represent the state at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte that year.

In 2013, she was elected the first transgender member of the Mecklenburg County Women’s Democratic Association and a voting member of the state’s Democratic Women’s Association.

She unsuccessfully ran for president of the North Carolina Democratic Party at the time, but remained the party chair for diversity and outreach.

“THE MOST COURAGEOUS PERSON EVERYDAY”

After Allison entered the toilet at the Convention Center and was kicked out by police, O’Neale Atkinson of gay rights group Time Out Youth called it the bravest person he has ever known.

Calling her friend “a tremendous advocate for LGBTQ people,” September McCrady told Go Fund Me that Allison “could light up a room with her smile and fight like hell for justice when she feels the need to.

“She has shared her interesting stories with me over the years of a life well lived, and I cherish them and am so grateful that I had her as a friend,” McCrady said.

Copyright 2021 The Charlotte Observer. All rights reserved.

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