“Transitioning is hard,” said Dyllan Allen. This is somewhat of a cheeky understatement from a 32-year-old guy who has intimate knowledge of just what it takes to make a change from female-bodied, to male. “I just want others to know how hard it can be for some people to transition.” Hard or not, with his Jason Priestley hair, mesmerizing blue eyes, and quiet confidence, Allen is remarkably sexy this far into his transition.

We meet in the dressing area of Play Dance Bar, and converse as he gets ready for the evening show. This is where he makes the transition from co-general manager of Suzy Wong’s House of Yum to the on-stage showstopper known as Jordan Allen. This is where the performer persona is put on with as much care as the stage make-up. This, metaphorically speaking, is where Allen found himself.

It was the discovery and performance of male impersonation that brought to light an unspoken issue that had haunted him for years. “Something never felt right,” he said in regards to his gender identity. “I would avoid mirrors, because what I saw reflected back to me was not how I saw myself.” Being a drag king opened his eyes.

It was then that he knew a transition was in his future. Relatively recently, his mom told Allen that when he was born, they initially did not know his gender. It was ambiguous. After some tests and a conclusion that ovaries were present, a decision was made to raise Allen as a girl. That information was the final puzzle piece confirming the mixed-up feelings he had struggled with throughout his life.

While his efforts throughout his nine-year drag career have been amply rewarded life offstage was a continuous challenge. He speaks matter-of-factly about his parents who have disowned him. He talks with wry humor about the four months he spent living in Monte Carlo—his car, not the opulent city along the French Riviera. He talks about other, similar challenges and for each he found comfort and solace among his “drag family”.

For Allan, his drag family is huge. “Our drag family isn’t about drag,” he said, “it’s about family.” Now, as an older member and one who has been through so much, Allen fills a more paternal position within the family. Every so often during our conversation, a younger guy will walk in with an issue and invariably, their questions begin with, “Hey, Pop, Can you...?” Or, “Hey Pops! What did...?”

Allen takes his role in their lives seriously. Those kings who struggle with being transgender and wrestle with the question of whether and when to transition quickly find the steel in his backbone. His first and foremost rule: Don’t jump into it. “You HAVE to know who you are,” he emphasized, “before you do irreversible things to yourself.” Part of that knowing comes with age, and experience. He is quick to point out that this is just his opinion, as he is well aware of other points of view skewing towards transitioning at younger and younger ages.

As for himself? “I struggle, and it’s hard. But I went from being homeless five and a half years ago, to co-general manager of Suzy Wong’s. And now, I just want to help people.”

It is clear that he has already helped quite a few people as a multitude of performers, “drag children”, and others within the community have come together to throw a bash for the performer to help raise funds for the next step in his transition—top surgery. With very few exceptions, insurance does not cover surgeries for transgender people, including breast removal. It’s a glaring inequity that puts many life-enhancing and incredibly necessary surgeries out of reach for many transgender men and women. For Allen, the thought of living life without breasts makes him surprisingly emotional. “I want to feel my girlfriend against my skin,” he said. “I want to be able to swim, and feel the breeze on my chest.”

“Tops off to Jordan” is a benefit blow-out party happening at Tribe on March 12, and again at Play on April 4. Go-go dancers will gyrate to the insane beats dropped by DJ Lady B. While you work up a sweat, drink specials will help quench your thirst with a portion of the proceeds going to Allen.

A silent auction will feature drop-your-jaw prizes like: Autographed guitars signed by Wynonna, Martina McBride, and Bon Jovi, Preds tickets, dinner for two at Cafe Coco, floral arrangements, and a private show from the Men of Arrow. Yes, a private show from the Men of Arrow. There will also be a bachelor/bachelorette auction featuring bartenders from Tribe and Play, with the owner of Men of Arrow, Jonas, added into the sultry mix.

Additionally, it’s a tangible way to show support for an often underserved and somewhat forgotten part of the GLBT community: the female-to-male transgender population. Part of Allen’s mission is to help bring more awareness and acceptance of our ftm brothers, helping them feel they belong and have a home within the larger confines of the community.

Don’t miss the party.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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