We’re Terri and Vince Cook from Central NY. We’ve written a book about a life changing experience. We hope by sharing our story we might help change a lot of other lives too.
It’s been nearly five years since we learned that the child we thought was our daughter is really our son. But it was years before that when a suicide attempt introduced us to a world of struggles, with innumerable sleepless nights, endless fears and lots of tears. Our child did not just wake up one morning and profess that he was a boy, not a girl. Rather, he endured depression, anxiety, bullying, and torment before he could put words to his inner struggle and understood that his gender identity was the source of his pain.
We confided in few people at first, then slowly surrendered our insecurities to instead arm ourselves with knowledge. The decision to embrace, rather than reject, our path transformed our lives. We supported our teenage son’s transition from female to male. Over the years, our family has transitioned along with him.
Our son’s struggle to understand, accept, and simply be who he is nearly cost him his life. He had a family that loved and supported him, and yet it has been (and continues to be) a difficult journey. Many of the difficulties and dangers of being transgender (or having a transgender loved one) are compounded by the lack of awareness and acceptance in our society. For this reason, we decided to share our story … with the hope of increasing awareness and bringing about change. We’ve come to understand that most people (like us at one time) have no idea what it means to be transgender or the challenges faced by transgender individuals.
This book is more than “a walk in our shoes” because our son is transgender. It’s a story of how a young family (perhaps much like your own) discovered how much they didn’t know. Our ignorance translated into fear, desperation, and pain. With a lot of help from others we learned the truth. We think everyone will benefit from the allies and angels in our life.
The poet Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.”
We hope our story will help people to know better. We do believe in humanity and we have no doubt that people will do better when they know better—regarding transgender people and all other marginalized populations.
Vince is a software engineer with a B.A. in Physics and a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering. Terri is a retired project engineer with a B.A. in Mathematics and a M.S. in Management Systems. After rewarding careers with Lockheed Martin, both left the company to pursue their passion for compassion, advocacy, and helping create a world full of allies. Terri is now a full-time advocate, speaker and educator – sharing their story in workplaces, schools, healthcare settings and conferences across the country. Terri and Vince live in Western NY with their two sons and their beloved border collie.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of every book will go to support The Q Center, a safe space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth and their allies. We credit the Q Center with helping to save our son’s life, and we want to ensure that “the Q”, and other centers like it, remain open to continue serving our youth.
Terri and Vince are co-founders of The Ally Project. The Ally Project is dedicated to finding practical ways to grow acceptance, compassion, and love while protecting the peaceful expression of personal identity, preferences, and rights. By providing a fun, welcoming community rich with resources, support, and personal stories, The Ally Project strives to create a world where every person is valued and respected, moving beyond tolerance toward understanding, appreciation and celebration of our differences. The Ally Project will serve as a resource for Allies while raising overall awareness of perceived and actual discrimination and inequality in our world. Here you’ll find tools to bring about change in yourself and the world. We believe real change comes about when we can see each other as real people … no more or less important than ourselves. Through sharing stories, partnerships with other organizations, and the power of social media, we advocate for cultural change and equality.