In September, GLAAD spoke with Marsha Aizumi regarding her upcoming memoir Two Spirits, One Heart, written with her son Aiden. The memoir explores Marsha’s journey to embracing her transgender son and becoming an advocate and ally for LGBT youth. Recently, GLAAD caught up with Marsha and Aiden, discussing their respective work in advocacy, particularly for LGBT youth, and their experience as a family that has grown closer together through change.
As an advocate for LGBT youth, Marsha is involved with a number of organizations and projects. In June, she retired from her job to devote herself more fully to advocacy work and was recently elected to the national board of Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). One of her greatest concerns is making schools safe for LGBT youth through education about acceptance and ending bullying. Marsha notes that many parents of LGBT children confront their own feelings of shame, but she tries to offer a mother’s perspective, helping parents deal with these feelings and realize they may be missing out on an important time in their children’s lives.
Aiden is also involved in a number of projects, all while attending college in Southern California. He visits schools in various districts with Marsha to speak about the importance of acceptance and the damage caused by bullying, co-facilitates an LGBT youth group and middle school group, and serves on the board of the Pasadena chapter PFLAG. Previously, Aiden worked with The Trevor Project, and he continues to assist with training help-line counselors to address issues around gender identity and expression. His latest position is with the Children’s Hospital LA, working with their HIV/AIDS coalition.
Speaking about their journey through Aiden’s transition as a family, Marsha says it has helped her realize how important it is for families to support their children. People have come up to her at events, she says, and thanked her for supporting Aiden. These were moments when it really struck her just how many LGBT youth do not receive the love and support they need from their families, and this has strengthened her commitment to changing that. Not that it wasn’t difficult, she remarks. Aiden’s transition was a transition for the whole family, but Marsha believes they appreciate each other more now than ever before. “I’ve always thought I was a patient mother,” she says, “but I think I became even more patient. This experience has changed our family’s life in such a positive way.” Marsha adds that you must be willing to move into that change to realize how positive it can be.
Admitting that change always comes with some level of fear about how things will turn out, Aiden agrees with Marsha’s sentiments around family. “Transition shifted dynamics,” he says. “It strengthened the way our family fits together now.” He asserts that even before transition, family was high up on his list of priorities, and he is happy to say it remains there today. Aiden says his father recently shared that while it did take him some time adjusting to the correct pronoun and name for Aiden, he “can’t really remember there being a difference. It just feels really natural.”
GLAAD thanks Marsha and Aiden for taking the time to speak with us and applauds them for their commitment to LGBT youth advocacy. By sharing their story, Marsha and Aiden are showing the incredible difference that loving and supportive families can make by embracing their children for who they are.