It seems an unlikely weapon to wage a war with, but Alison Stokes is armed with a fairy godmother’s wand and the determination to make a difference.
She wants to break down barriers for transgender men and women, and she’s come up with a light-hearted way of doing it.
Alison – who has been living as a woman for the past 12 years – has set up Juke Box Entertainment, putting on shows around Merseyside in which she wants to entertain and to change perceptions.
“When you are transgender you do face attacks and abuse, I’ve had it myself because of who I am, but I’ve found it’s easier for people to accept when there’s humour involved,” she says.
“I don’t see why I should hide the fact that I’m transgender. I want people to meet me, see how open and relaxed I am about it, and then it might make it less difficult when they meet another transgender person.
“If I can do what I do and promote the positives then it can only be a good thing, and hopefully people might go away and think twice and it might just lessen the number of attacks.”
In fact, so keen is Alison to make her message fun, she’s even adopted a stage name for her wand-waving alter ego: Fanny La Tranny.
“I was going to go for Le, but then I thought La was more like the old Scouse word,” she smiles.
“It is supposed to make people laugh when they hear it, but there’s a serious reason for it too. I get the word tranny thrown at me all the time as an insult and what I wanted to do was take it back. By me using it, it takes that hate crime word away from them so it’s actually quite empowering.”
Alison, 36, is accustomed to living with daily comments and looks. She is currently having hormone treatment and is on the waiting list for a gender reassignment operation, but says she has known she was different since the age of five.
“It was a nightmare for me living as a boy, an absolute nightmare,” she says. “I am a full-time carer for my mum now and she has been very supportive, she says she always knew, but I didn’t come out in one day. For me it was slowly, slowly and I did it in secret at first which I didn’t like doing.
“I really only told her because my brother caught me wearing my mum’s bra when I was about 13 and he kept threatening to tell on me. One day I just thought, I’ve had enough of this, so I said to her ‘I wore your bra’ and that was it. There was nothing to hide anymore, that was how I handled it.”
Although it wasn’t easy at first Alison, who lives in St Helens , says she’s learned to deal with people’s negative responses in her own way.
She does a lot of voluntary work for the council and the NHS , with schools, hate crime focus groups and with Liverpool city council in training door security men and women.
And personally, she says, she’s built up a repertoire of comebacks to tackle the abuse head-on.
“I don’t shy away from it, but you’ve got to be prepared to take things on the chin,” she says. “People make comments but I have lots of jokes ready and I’ve learned to raise myself above it. If it wasn’t me then these people would be picking on someone with a learning disability or somebody elderly.
“There are certain people in society who have nothing better to do than attack other people and they always look for the weakest. I just choose to stand up to them and turn it on its head.”
With Juke Box Entertainment, Alison aims to share her attitude with a wider audience as well as raising money for charities and community projects. She’s already been offered one venue – the Old Mill in Prescot – to put on her Partner & Partner gameshow, an equality version of the old Mr & Mrs TV show.
She hopes to find a stage in Liverpool too, and everyone will be welcome.
“I want a mix of people, I don’t mind at all if they come out of curiosity as long as they come,” says Alison.
Source: The Liverpool Echo – http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/lifestyle/entertainer-hoping-turn-prejudice-head-6847351
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