Newport Beach physician to ride on Rose Parade float for Kaiser Permanente to boost trans visibility

Dr. Alison Taur tests out an early version of Kaiser Permanente's float.
Dr. Alison Taur tests out an early version of Kaiser Permanente’s float for the Rose Parade this year. Taur said she was asked in late November if she wanted to participate.
(Courtesy of Alison Taur)
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Dr. Alison Taur isn’t one for much attention.

Taur, who asks her friends call her Allie, is thoughtful and humble when she considers answers to questions from a reporter. She introduces her long career with Kaiser Permanente as one that started in Fontana in 2005 but waits until much later in the conversation to mention that she is the regional coordinating chair of nuclear medicine for Kaiser Permanente in Southern California and a clinical assistant professor for the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine.

Taur jokes she’s the biggest nerd that you’ll meet in a hospital and adds she doesn’t really have any aspirations to be on television.

But when she thinks of her community — the transgender and gender-diverse community — it’s enough to propel her onto the Kaiser Permanente Rose Parade float.


“I don’t want to think about how many people are watching,” she said, laughing.

The 2024 Rose Parade on Jan. 1 is themed “Celebrating a World of Music: The Universal Language.” In keeping with the spirit of the theme, Kaiser Permanente’s float is called “Symphony of You.” The healthcare company said it will represent the ways its many branches come together to care for its patients. It will feature a number of its care teams, including Taur, and members.

Taur is one of two trans people who will ride on the float, with Joshua Irving Gershick being the other. Gershick is a member of the Kaiser Permanente Trans Cultural Competency Team and is a playwright, filmmaker and author who works to highlight those in the queer community he believes were erased from history.

Taur, who lives in Newport Beach but works in San Bernardino County, said she first was asked to ride the parade float at the end of November.

“They said, ‘Hey, would you be interested in this?’ and I said, ‘Well, tell me more.’ I think, based on my own predilections, I’d rather hang out with my family most of the time,” Taur said. “I’ve never really had a desire to be on TV or anything like that, but my wife, Joyce, who’s also a physician [at Kaiser Permanente Riverside], said, ‘Allie, you’ve got to do this. This is once in a lifetime.’

“But what convinced me was that she said it would mean a lot to the transgender and gender-diverse community,” Taur continued. “She was the one who reminded me how important it was. When she said that, I felt like it was all I needed to hear.”

Dr. Alison Taur of Newport Beach poses in front of an early version of Kaiser Permanente's Rose Parade float.
Dr. Alison Taur, a Newport Beach resident, poses in front of an early version of Kaiser Permanente’s Rose Parade float, “Symphony of You,” last weekend. Taur will be riding on the float with nine others on New Year’s Day.
(Courtesy of Alison Taur)

Taur, who transitioned in 2014, said she felt it was important to be visibly trans because of recent efforts across the country, including in North Carolina, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and other states, to restrict or remove gender-affirming care for minors.

“What it feels like is a coordinated attack on the gender diverse-community. The aim of it is erasure. It’s essentially to make us disappear ... and I’ve felt it myself. It just feels like you’re more vulnerable than ever,” Taur said. “Last year, I did a lot of stuff within Kaiser and … did an interview, but wouldn’t you know it? As soon as that came out, I immediately got trolled.

“People were saying some really horrible things. I said, ‘This is the price,’ but the fact is that I feel like I’m in a safe place. I recognize my privilege and the fact is this: If we back down from public spaces, what message is that sending and are we letting them win? More now than ever, it’s about making space, taking space and not yielding the space that this community deserves.”

Taur said the denial of gender-affirming care for minors is “wanton cruelty,” as studies have shown that having medical intervention is associated with lower odds of depression and suicidality in trans adolescents.

“Wow, we’re a country of bullies punching down, making [trans teens] a wedge issue. The whole point as a parent, as a human being — isn’t the whole point why we’re here is to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves? It’s breaking my heart on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “The fact is this: I want, especially to the parents of trans kids, to let them know there’s hope. You can be trans.

Dr. Alison Taur practices her wave for the Rose Parade on an early version of Kaiser Permanente's float.
Dr. Alison Taur practices her wave for the Rose Parade on an early version of Kaiser Permanente’s float, “Symphony of You.”
(Courtesy of Alison Taur)

“Every dream they’ve had can come true. I’ve had the family I’ve always wanted. The marriage, the career … the chosen family I’ve always wanted. I want to basically let, especially teens, know that it’s going to be OK. I’m fighting for you. I am here. I see you and I want to make it better.”

Taur has asked that the trans flag be stitched onto the lapels of her white coat for the float, saying that she did not want it to be subtle. As the date approaches, she said she’s filled with anxious anticipation but that there is an eagerness at the same time.

She said some of her friends plan on planting themselves along the Rose Parade route for her to wave to them. A bass player herself, she said she felt this year’s float theme was wholly representative of what she felt diversity and inclusion looked like.

“I don’t know if anyone knew I was a musician when they asked me, but … this resonates deeply with me in many ways. I see our lives weaving together like little melodies. Instruments that come in for a section but are gone the next. There’s the moments we all play at the same time and the moment where one instrument plays solo. I love that. I think that’s kind of how it is our entire lives.

“Medical practice, patients’ lives being woven into that … a little musical phrase, a passage. I love that and the beautiful part about it is they all come back at the very end at the last movement [of a symphony]. It’s beautiful that way. It felt like it was meant to be. If there was any year [to be on a float], this would be the one. In many ways, I think of life as being a musical journey.”

A rendering of Kaiser Permanente's float for this year's Rose Parade, "Symphony of You."
(Courtesy of Kaiser Permanente)