An Attempted Shake up in North Carolina

| Feb 9, 2015
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It took a serious run by a transgender woman in an election for Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party to shake things up within and move the Party to finally honor its commitment to add transgender inclusive language to its non discrimination and inclusion statement.

Janice Covington Allison, of Charlotte, entered the race as the first transgender candidate to run for the statewide party position. She has a long history in Democratic politics, including an unsuccessful bid for the Cabarrus County Commission in the 1980s before her full transition. Allison became the first transgender person to be elected a delegate from North Carolina to a Democratic National Convention in 2012. She also helped to form Mecklenburg County’s LGBT Democrats caucus, and has served as the state LGBT caucus’ 12th Congressional District chair.

Allison cited several reasons for her candidacy, saying the Republican Party has “taken our state into a danger zone of changes against the people.”

“They have taken away the right of the people to vote, they have taken away the right for a woman to have an abortion,” Allison’s statement reads. “Our Governor has dismissed Duke Power and their liability of coal ash disposal, causing the taxpayers of the Tar Heel State to foot the bill; they have destroyed our education system, among many other changes that I do not agree with.”

Elections for the state party chair were held on Feb. 7 in Raleigh where party’s current first vice chairwoman and heavy favorite, former state Rep. Patsy Keever of Asheville did win handily, but the race was not without controversy because of troubling remarks, transphobic, about Ms. Allison that she made at a candidate’s forum.

Trans activist Ms Allison was listing the groups she had represented at the Democratic National Convention – disabled veterans, women, senior citizens and LGBT people – but could not remember the fifth group. Ms Keever suggested “man.”

Ms Allison immediately hit back: “Honey, there ain’t no man left in here.”

In a later interview Allison said, “I was shocked when I heard what she said. I would compare it to someone using a bigoted slur against me.

“I am a proud transgender woman and for me to be violated in this way at a public forum by a leader of the party was completely out of line.”

Ms Keever had at least the sense to later apologize to Allison

In her apology, Ms Keever said: “During the candidates’ forum in Gaston County, I referred to you using an incorrect gender pronoun. That was inaccurate and offensive, and not the way that I would conduct myself as chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party.”

Ms Allison said she had accepted the apology but “it’s bigger than me” and that she had encouraged Ms Keever to apologize to the wider trans community as well.

What is troubling to most transpeople is that the LGB Democrats of North Carolina said they were supportive of Ms Keever despite her comments. President Ryan Butler said: “I have known Patsy for more than 5 years. As many people already know, I have already personally endorsed Patsy Keever for Chair and I remain as committed to that endorsement as I was when I first made it.

“I’m enthusiastic about her commitment to work together on LGBT issues.”

I personally doubt that those issues included the “T,” but by Janice Covington Allison stepping up, that same day, the state party overwhelmingly passed a provision to add the term “gender identity” to the state party plan of organization’s preamble. The document already contained an extensive list of other enumerated categories, including sexual orientation. I’m told that the state party was supposed to have added the transgender-inclusive language last year. I supposed they needed a push.

I met Janice in 2012 when I became aware that she wanted to be a delegate to the DNC Convention in Charlotte. I encouraged her and she worked the system to be elected in spite of not having the support of the lesbian and gays in the NC party infrastructure. I applauded her for getting it done then and although she gave a quixotic attempt at the Chairmanship, she did move them to add the trans inclusive language.

Thank you, Janice, another positive step forward… nothing ventured, nothing gained!

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Category: Transgender Politics


About the Author ()

Babs at 76 passed away in 2019. She was a member of the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee, Deputy Vice Chair of the NJ Democratic State Committee and Political Director of the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of NJ. She served on the Executive Committee of Trans United 4 Obama. She has served as Vice Chair of the DNC Eastern Caucus, was President of NJ Stonewall Democrats, Co-Chair of National Stonewall Democrats Federal PAC Board, Vice-Chair of Garden State Equality, Executive Board member of National Stonewall Democrats as Chair of the DNC Relations Committee and a member of the NJ Civil Unions Review Commission.

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