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Obituary: Alison Laing

| Jan 28, 2019
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Alison Laing

After a long battle with cancer, Alison Laing passed away peacefully on January 22, 2019 at the Elizabethtown Masonic Village in Pennsylvania. She was surrounded by loved ones.

Alison was born on September 25, 1932 in Liberty, Texas and raised in New Braunfels. She earned bachelor and master’s degrees in nuclear chemistry and a master’s degree in organizational dynamics and strategic planning at the University of Pennsylvania.

Alison and Dottie Morgan Laing were wed in 1955 and raised a son and three daughters in Wayne, Pa. They made sure their children experienced the world’s geography, cultures, and history.

Alison served honorably as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, working in intelligence and then doing nuclear research at Los Alamos National Laboratory. While there, she isolated a previously unknown isotope of aluminum.

Alison was employed by a major electronics corporation as a Senior Engineer Manager for Computer Engineering. She worked on design and installation of the ILLIAC IV, then the world’s most powerful computer. After her retirement, she and Dottie relocated to Tiverton, Rhode Island.

Alison and Dottie

Alison and Dottie were potters, specializing in redware. Alison had a lifelong interest in wine, and was a wine educator, public speaker, and judge. She served as President of the American Wine Society and was a member of at least six other wine associations. She produced many wine events.

In the 1980s, Alison was a co-founder of The Renaissance Education Association. She was a long-time board member and for two years Executive Director of the International Foundation for Gender Education, and a long-time board member and for a number of years Director of the long-running transgender conference Fantasia Fair. Alison was involved with the Congress of Transgender Organizations, GenderPAC, Transgender Alliance for Community, Trans Events, and assorted other transgender organizations and events. Dottie supported Alison’s activities in the transgender community, and often worked alongside her.

Alison was the author of the 1989 book Speaking As a Woman, available for many years, but now out of print and selling for high prices. 

Alison was a bridge-builder, working hard and with considerable success to bring the different factions of the then-forming transgender community together. She was always pleasant, always helpful, and always had a smile on her face.

Alison is survived by her children and their spouses, four grandchildren, and extended family members. Her wife Dottie passed away on September 5, 2009.

Photos of Alison and many photos taken by her are available for view at the Digital Transgender Archive; just search for her by name at

There will be a memorial for Alison and Dottie during Fantasia Fair week in Provincetown, Massachusetts, October 20-27, 2019. Attendance is open to all. For information, send email to [email protected] and mention Fantasia Fair.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Alison’s name to Fantasia Fair, which was dear to her heart.

Fantasia Fair
P.O. Box 293
East Bridgewater, MA 02333

Read Dallas’ Remembrance of Alison.

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Category: Obituary, Transgender History

Dallas Denny

About the Author ()

Much of Dallas' work is available on her website. Dallas Denny is a writer, activist, and educator. She holds a M.A. and was licensed to practice psychology for many years. She retired her license after relocating to Georgia. Dallas founded and was for eight years Executive Director of the American Educational Gender Education Service. She started the Atlanta Gender Explorations support group in 1990. She was part of the group that started the Southern Comfort conference and did programming for the conference. She has long been involved with Fantasia Fair, where she was Director for six years. Dallas was editor of the journal "Chrysalis" from 1990-1998 and "Transgender Tapestry" from 2000-2006. She has three published three books and many book chapters and journal and magazine articles. Dallas holds a number of honors, including IFGE’s Trinity and Virginia Prince Lifetime Achievement Awards and Real Life Experience’s Transgender Pioneer Award.

Comments (3)

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  1. dina dina says:

    So sorry to hear of Alison’s passing. She was a smart, good-humored person and, like all of the founders of Renaissance I met when I was starting out, put a lot of personal effort into making the group so successful.

  2. jan brown jan brown says:

    I met Alison and Dottie on several occasions including IFGE and Fantasia Fair. I remember Alison regaling everyone with stories of her adventures and boldly going where ever she wanted. I have missed her recently as she was in a assisted living facility. I have a few pictures of her presenting at Fantasia Fair. She was a leader in the best sense of the word and I was an avid follower. She was one of a kind and a special person and friend. Rest In Peace Alison, Huggs, Jan

  3. Linda Jensen Linda Jensen says:

    So sad to hear about her passing but it seems Alison had a life well lived.
    I met Alison on several occasions while attending JoAnn Roberts 1980s ‘Paradise in the Poconos’ events. Alison was one of ‘the life of the party’ girls who had time for everybody including this newbie/ debutante. Her vocal training advice has served me pretty well over the years but what I remember most is a story on herself that she told several of us. It seems that on at least two occasions she had been at a social occasion as her male self when her transgender radar picked up strong clues that another man in the group was also actually a crossdresser. I’m not sure what the clues were but it could have been the way the other stood or voice or what seemed like a trace of makeup on his face. So Alison would start a conversation with the other and bring the conversation around to something like “so how long have you been dressing?”
    “Dressing? What the hell do you mean?” was the typical reply. Alison said she had to do a lot of backtracking to get out of those situations. But she seemed to be so comfortable in her femme identity that she was willing to assume that others would be as comfortable, too.
    I will always remember Alison with fondness. R.I.P.

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