Jim and Sasha Allen’s story: Sasha struggled with coming out as transgender

Jim and Sasha Allen had a bitter-sweet Blind Audition on the voice. On the one hand, they had Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande vying for the duo to join their teams. On the other hand, Sasha revealed his adoration for Blake Shelton, who had no interest in signing him and his father. Sasha even brought a painting of him, Jim, and Blake to the audition. 

Given their genre, the sensible choice for Jim and Sasha was Kelly. After a short deliberation, however, the duo went with Ariana. It seems to be paying off as they garnered the most votes among Ariana’s singers during the first live show. 

Sasha struggled with telling the world that he is transgender

Sasha Allen’s backstory is fraught with challenges but possesses an inspiring end. In the introductory film played before the duo’s Blind Audition performance, Sasha stated that he struggled with his identity growing up: Doctors assigned him female at birth, but he always felt male. 

Via an Instagram post, Sasha stated that he photo-shopped his photos to look more like who he was. Tired of living a lie, Sasha came out as trans and started his transition during his freshman year of high school. 

Bullying and transphobia from teachers and students and encouraged by the school made Sasha’s transition a nightmare. “The people that were supposed to care about bullying and discrimination really didn’t care much at all, and I wasn’t the only one who experienced it,” Sasha told CT Insider.

Thankfully, some understanding teachers aided Sasha and other kids going through similar experiences. He continued:

“Luckily, I also had some truly amazing teachers over the years, teachers who were incredibly supportive of me and every other kid that was going through something similar. They advocated for me, looked out for me, and truly cared about what I was dealing with. I wouldn’t have been able to get through those years without them.”

Music also helped Sasha through that difficult period. He let out his emotions through songwriting; therefore, most of Sasha’s songs written during that time refer to his transition. 

Coming out to the people in his school and hometown was daunting enough, but it couldn’t compare to the prospect of having to come out to the entire world. Sasha thought about keeping his backstory secret, but his life didn’t make sense without the transition. He continued:

“The benefit outweighs the risk. I realized that it could help someone that’s going through the same things I went through. It could even help the friends and family of that person, or simply educate those that have preconceived notions about trans people.”

Sasha’s bravery has already paid off, as responses from people prove that he made the right decision. “I’m really glad that I decided to be open about it,” he said. “You only see so much trans representation in television, and I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to share my truth.”

Jim feels that he sings best with his son alongside

Sasha started playing guitar when he was six. He benefited from having a music teacher as a father. Four years later, the pair started playing music as a duo.

They wowed the people of Newtown, Connecticut, with their flawless voices and prowess with multiple instruments. Sasha told CT Insider that his progression benefited from growing up in a musically-inclined town. “There’s a lot of appreciation in Connecticut for smaller artists,” he said. 

In April 2020, the opportunity to spread beyond Connecticut presented itself: Jim received a notification to mail his audition for the voice. Rather than do it alone, he called Sasha to audition with him. “I’m a better singer singing with Sasha,” Jim told The Newtown Bee.

“That’s what I love about doing this, because it’s with my son.” The enormity of the task ahead initially fazed Sasha, but with encouragement from family and his girlfriend, he went along with it. Sasha told The Newtown Bee

“It is always something I dreamed of and something I always thought about doing. Just starting the whole process of looking into auditioning and submitting things, it was so surreal and amazing. I was like, ‘Why not. Let’s do the video. Let’s submit it.’ Then it was up and up from there. It was shocking to me.”

COVID-19 restrictions forced contestants to record at home and send audition tapes. “It was an amazing experience,” Sasha added. The first song played by Sasha and Jim on The Voice was Leaving on a Jet Plane by John Denver. It symbolized the duo’s unexpected journey into the competition. Jim explained:

“We literally had to fly out to California on a jet plane. I had never been there and neither had Sasha. It’s this awesome adventure that has unfolded kind of unexpectedly and on a level that is just so rewarding and so joyful. I am so grateful to be sharing this with my son.”

Sasha described Kelly Clarkson turning around as the ‘best thing I’ve ever seen.’ It only got better after Ariana pressed the button and turned. Sasha’s surprised reaction to Ariana turning became a viral meme. Sasha talked to The Newtown Bee about his emotions at that moment:

“I didn’t expect Ariana to turn around, because I felt like the genre of the song wasn’t really her lane. I didn’t think that she would really be looking to have an act like us on her team, so when I saw her turn around and realized we got two chairs and it was in the last three seconds of the song, it was so overwhelming.”

Ariana Grande believes that Jim and Sasha could be the first duo to win The Voice

Sasha Allen has already made history by becoming the first openly transgender singer to make it to the live performances rounds of The Voice. He and Jim aim to be the first duo to win The Voice.

The pair defeated Manny Keith in the Knockout Round to seal their progression to the live performances. Jim and Sasha sang Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Sasha explained the song’s connection to his backstory as follows:

“The lyrics bring on another meaning, too; a feeling of home with yourself. I was born female and I transitioned my freshman year of high school. It was a long journey of painful experiences and painful reaction from people. I feel like I have become more comfortable with myself, my identity, and who I am over the course of working with Ariana.”

All judges complimented Sasha and Jim for their performance. John Legend and Kelly Clarkson lauded the pair’s connection, and Blake Shelton praised their authenticity. “You guys continue to shock me,” Blake said. 

After announcing the duo’s win in the Knockout Round, Ariana predicted that the audience would love the pair. “I think everyone is going to fall in love with them,” she said. Ariana’s prediction proved true as, thanks to fan votes, Jim and Sasha made it through the first round of Live Performances. 

Ariana believes that The Voice might finally crown its first duo champions. “They are the best,” Ariana told Entertainment Tonight. “I just think this season is so special and perhaps, perhaps.”