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Join the fight to protect transgender New Yorkers and end conversion efforts!

Empire State Pride Agenda

Jan 13, 2015 — As the mother of a transgender child, the tragic death of Leelah Alcorn has really shaken me. I am haunted by her suicide note. Leelah’s hopelessness and despair bring back frightening memories of my own child’s torment.

After beginning his transition (with our full support and unconditional love), my son still found himself despondent and questioning whether he would ever be happy. He discovered that our society was not as accepting as our family. He questioned whether others would ever see him as the young man he knew himself to be. He wondered who would ever love him. He doubted if he’d ever complete his transition and be able to just get on with living the day-to-day life of a teenager. All of these struggles were conveyed in Leelah’s suicide note … and they have been voiced by countless youth that I’ve worked with over the years.

So I really, really get the fear and the hopelessness and the belief that it will never get better. Whether or not they have parental support, trans kids know that for them, the world is going to be full of challenges, discrimination, even pain that few others can or will understand. The difference between the experience of a child from a family like Leelah’s, and one like our own is that our son had us promising him that we would always be there and he could get through this – and asking him to trust us and not give up.

We kept our promise and were always there, and he kept his and didn’t give up. Now he’s happy and healthy and fully living his life as the young man he should have always been.

Today, my husband and I are advocates for change. We advocate not only for our own child, but for the entire transgender community, demanding access to healthcare, education, economic security and the freedom to move about this world without fear of state-sanctioned discrimination and violence. More than that, we also advocate for dignity, respect, justice, and love. I hope that hearing about parents who are #DoingItRight might give others reason to rethink their actions and give them courage to try another, more supportive way. And I hope that for transgender youth hearing about parents’ #DoingItRight might give them hope.

I want every young person out there to know — even if your parents are not ready or capable of giving you the kind of love and support you deserve — there are others who care about you and see who you really are. You have a whole community, a whole family out here waiting for you. I want to ask you to keep reaching out to find another person who can help you hold on until you’re able to take control of your own life. Doing this without parental support may seem impossible, but through my experience with my own son, I have met so many amazing young trans people who have accomplished incredible things against all the odds, and I want you to know – you can do it. We are all out here, waiting to meet you, cheering you on.

Let’s rise up together and call on Governor Cuomo, State Senate Leader Dean Skelos and the entire New York State Legislature to make 2015 the year we protect our youth from conversion efforts and pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) to protect transgender New Yorkers from discrimination.

Terri Cook
Empire State Pride Agenda Board Member and Mom of two sons, one who is transgender
Western New York

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