Alison Davison Oral History Interview
The coordinator of the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance (SAGA) at the time of the interview, Davison identifies as a transsexual lesbian woman and began her transition in the late 1990s. Much detail is offered on her journey, from serving in a free clinic in Seattle during the Vietnam War to moving to Tucson. Work at the clinic later led to a counselor position in the community mental health field, and a business merger brought her to the Old Pueblo.
Some of the emotional difficulties and challenges involved in revealing her true self are discussed, including the intense fear involved in coming out to her friends and family members. The social aspects of expressing her gender the way she has are also conveyed. Transparency surrounding who and what she is has been a priority to her, for Davison believes she spent too many years hiding those aspects of herself.
Davison touches on some important and still highly relevant topics, such as the importance of mental/behavioral health workers’ understanding of the more distinctive needs of patients who are transsexual or part of the broader LGBTQ community. She also recognizes the tension that has existed between the older lesbian and transsexual communities in Tucson. For her, the process of transitioning to a woman has been much less terrifying than she thought it would be, although it did unfortunately put a significant strain on her relationship with her late parents.
Davison’s personal testimony attests to the social struggles trans people encounter, but also their historical issues for official recognition. She mentions how this group is still working for acceptance, perhaps more so than the other groups under the wider LGBTQ umbrella. Her story ties into Wingspan, which she references several times. The interview itself was conducted in a Wingspan location, as well.
Despite the difficulties she elaborated on, Davison has experienced little pushback in Tucson itself and credits many individuals for the social acceptance of trans individuals. The fact that trans people themselves are willing to put themselves in the public sphere and raise awareness, she remarked, likewise contributed to this acceptance.
To learn more about Davison and the organizations she has been part of, please visit the following websites: