Let the blogging begin!

It’s been nearly three years since my husband and I first found out 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 wake up one morning and profess to us 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. This decision … to embrace rather than reject our path … would transform our lives. We supported our son’s transition from female to male. Over the years, our family has transitioned along with him.

Many friends, family, and colleagues have been following our journey offline. We have finished writing our book, Allies and Angels: A Memoir of our Family’s Transition, and with the help of our amazing editor, will be publishing early this summer. We plan to formally launch The Ally Project after the book is published.

It seems many of you are as interested in what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, as you are in the product itself (i.e., the book and website). Our experiences, as parents of a transgender youth, have affected us and changed us so profoundly, that we’ve been inspired to do more than write a book and launch a website … we’ve left our jobs to pursue this calling full-time.

Whether we are reckless or fearless remains to be seen! What I know for sure is that it feels authentic and part of a greater plan, which we could either resist or embrace. We choose to embrace.

Fearless is not a word I would ever choose to describe myself. I’m full of fear. It is frightening and uncomfortable to be so vulnerable and share such a personal story. However, many of the fears and difficulties of being transgender (or having a transgender loved one) are compounded by the lack of awareness and acceptance in our society. We have chosen to share our story, despite our fears, to help change that.

As parents, we are getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Transgender people, like our son, have been unjustly uncomfortable for far too long.

As it all comes together, we need to focus our efforts. Rather than continue updating friends and followers offline, via email and other means, we will blog about it. I invite you to follow us.

Some of you may want to learn more about how we came to know, understand, accept, and ultimately embrace our son, supporting his transition from female to male at the age of fifteen.

Some of you may want to know what compelled us to take this huge leap … to use our experience and our life with the hope of raising awareness and creating a world full of allies.

You may want to hear more about how we overcame our fears and limiting beliefs, tuning out the critical voices (including our own) that said we’re crazy to leave our comfortable, successful careers and even more crazy to share our story publicly.

You may also want to follow our adventures as we advocate, educate and entertain at speaking engagements, presentations, workshops, and on the book tour.

You’ll hear about these and many other adventures if you follow our blog. I hope you’ll join us on our journey.

Enter your email address (in the space to the right →) to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Use the buttons below to share with your friends and invite them along too.

No matter who you are or how you identify, our story will challenge you to find a new acceptance for all, a deeper love for your loved ones, and a life without compromise in a world demanding one. I guarantee you’ll look at your life … and all people … differently.

Safer People, Safer Spaces

Earlier this week I attended a terrific program called “Safer People, Safer Spaces.” This 3 hour training, offered by the LGBT Resource Center at Syracuse University, was attended by students, faculty, staff, and community members.

True to the course description, this training was as close to comprehensive as could be provided in that amount of time. The facilitators incorporated many different activities which engaged all of us to better understand and develop our sense of allyship.

spss-stickerI was so moved to see such a diverse group of students, faculty, staff, and community members who were willing to give up 3 hours for this training. Students received no credits; this was not a course or job requirement. Each attendee simply had a desire to give of themselves to better understand others… and become a better ally.

At the conclusion of the training we discussed the “Statement of Allyship” embraced by the Center:

Statement of Allyship
Allyship is a process built through relationships; it requires commitment, understanding, hope, and humility. We believe allyship also requires a dedication to continuous self-awareness and self-exploration. Recognizing and understanding the pervasiveness of privilege and oppression, both across and within identity groups, is integral to ally development. Allies are accountable for the influence and impact of their actions to the broader social world, and our goal is that allies will ultimately join in efforts to achieve liberation.

Given that the training was offered by the LGBT Resource Center, and that most of the learning outcomes and activities centered on becoming a community of allies for people with marginalized genders and sexualities, I took particular interest in noting that the Statement of Allyship does not mention LGBT, gender or sexuality.

You may have noticed that the Mission Statement for the Ally Project also doesn’t mention or restrict being an ally only within the LGBT community.

Granted, we became passionate allies after learning our son is transgender. We were blessed to find countless allies in the LGBT community who guided and supported us through what was, at times, a very difficult and painful journey. Through our experiences we also learned first-hand of the inequities, injustices, and discrimination that still exist in the LGBT community. All of this led to our decision and commitment to help raise awareness and bring about positive change… and we became passionate allies.

It is convenient to become allies to those communities most near and dear, but all too often we, including myself, are guilty of limiting our minds and our good intentions to only those communities.

Finding love and compassion for all is a higher calling for allies, and so at the Ally Project our definition of an ally is purposely much broader and does not unduly restrict application to only the LGBT community. If we can look beyond our differences and consider how we treat all people… and have compassion and openness to all regardless of how we or they identify… we have hope for a world where nobody is marginalized or oppressed.

Kudos to the LGBT Resource Center at Syracuse University and kudos to everyone who attended the Safer People, Safer Spaces training!

Hello World!

Hello world is natural for a software engineer like myself. It’s the first computer program I write when I learn a new language.

So … “Hello.” I have a couple beautiful pictures to share that I took a few years ago on my way home from my parent’s cottage.

Morning Mist

Morning Mist

When I was looking up this picture in my archives I couldn’t remember if it was morning or evening when the picture was taken. It was back in 2008. It’s funny how the mind plays tricks on me. The picture looks like a sunset to me now. It happened that I was stretching my visit as long as I could and driving to work at 6:30 am. I had to look at the image properties to see when I took the photo.

Here is another cool shot I got that morning. I caught two fisherman fishing in the mist. It sounds funny to me . . . I caught them, and they were the ones fishing.

Caught Fishing

Caught Fishing

You are welcome to download the full resolution versions for free. Morning Mist and Caught Fishing are copyright 2012 by Vincent Cook – All Rights Reserved. Morning Mist and Caught Fishing images may be used for public or private display in all media forms. Acknowledgement to TheAllyProject.com is appreciated, but not required. All other uses require written permission.

Morning Mist – Full Res

Caught Fishing – Full Res

If you leave a comment, I can’t promise but I would like to send out free prints as much as I can. It may take a while, but I will contact you when I’m ready. I’ll even sign them for what it’s worth. Comments are moderated.