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It’s been nearly three years since we 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 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.
Many transgender people and their families went before us sharing their stories and helped us understand what it means to be transgender. Through their courage and insight, we learned how to best support our son and help save his life. Now, we want to give back and share our story.
We're Terri and Vince Cook from Central NY. Our memoir is written, and has been professionally edited. It will be published this summer. We have invested almost $10,000 and over 1,200 hours directly on the book. But we have a big plan and need your help. We want to raise at least $5,000 to finish publishing and promote the book. So, we're reaching out to our strongest supporters to ask for contributions. In exchange, we're offering to include you in our journey to raise awareness. Your contribution will get you a copy of our book and help us share our story.
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 fears and difficulties 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've decided to share our story ... with the hope of increasing awareness and bringing about change. We have come to understand that most people (including 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 just a mile walk in our shoes because our son is transgender. It’s a story about how a young, middle-class family 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 says, “When you know better, you do better.”
We hope that our story, and all of our efforts to publicize it, 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.
"Allies and Angels has an urgent message, but it does not tell you what to think—instead it shows, through the powerful, heart-wrenching narrative of a loving family, what a difference individuals can make in the lives of transgender youth. I hope it becomes the go-to book for the parents of such kids, and that it inspires the same kind of compassion and respect shown by Drew’s family. It should be required reading for all who work with children and young adults of any gender. I’m a little older than Drew, but also grew up in the suburbs of Syracuse, New York and also came out as transgender in my teens. I faced many of the same issues, from big things like bullying and suicidal depression to so-called little things like the pain of school dances and old family photos. Although few struggles compare to being a young man in a female body, there still is little guidance available for these boys or their loved ones. I wish such a book had existed for me and my parents during those difficult years and I hope this helps such families realize they aren’t alone. It will definitely improve, and most likely save, many young people’s lives."
—Elliott DeLine, Author of Refuse
and I Know Very Well How I Got My Name
"As someone who came out only six months ago at the age of 22, and whose parents are in the early stages of understanding and acceptance, this book was very emotional for me. The Cook family’s story is so inspiring and heartfelt. Thank you for making yourself vulnerable and writing this story so that others may find hope and come to better understand the experiences of trans* people and their families. I can only imagine what my life would be like now had I had the strength, courage, and support that Drew had, in particular from his family and the Q Center, to come out at a younger age. A great book for anyone to read – whether you’re trans*, you have family or friends that are, or you just want to learn a little bit more."
—Al Forbes, Syracuse University graduate student
“Live authentically.” “Find your passion.” “We are all connected.” These are familiar concepts to those of us in the self-help, life coach, and spirituality realm. I’ve read a lot about these ideas, but it’s a whole other experience to watch the Cook family live them every day. Now with their new book, Allies and Angels, others can benefit from their enduring story of love and acceptance. This book is a real life example of how living authentically, finding your passion, and realizing that we are all connected can bring more love, joy and compassion into your life. The knowledge and understanding gained by reading this book will make you an angel in someone else’s life. In my mind, there is no greater gift that you could give yourself and the human experience.
—Gloria Ierardi, Life Coach
If you can contribute financially, it is most appreciated. However, our hope is that you will also help share our story. It is just as appreciated when you tell others about our story or recommend our Free eBook Campaign (see below). We’re trying to create awareness and compassion. Here are a few specific ways to help:
- Contribute now and when you get our book, read it and share it. Help raise awareness in your circle of influence.
- Share* this campaign and our story with your family and friends regardless of whether they know someone who is LGBT. Just telling somebody helps to spread awareness of the issue.
- Share* our Free eBook Campaign with your guidance counselor, social worker, therapist, or LGBT organization. We really want to get our book into the hands of people who touch many lives, and we’re willing to give it away to do so. Encourage these people to contact us now, so that we can help them help others. See our Free eBook Campaign for more information.
- Share* this campaign and our story with the human resources department where you work. We have a whole chapter on the precious ways our employer made a huge difference, helping us save our son’s life.
* Share by telling or emailing people you know. You can share via Facebook (or other social media) or simply provide a link to this page or our website. Here are the links …
- Indiegogo Campaign (http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/allies-angels-memoir)
- Allies & Angels Book (http://alliesandangels.com)
- Allies & Angels Free eBook Campaign (http://alliesandangels.com/free-book)
For those that don’t know what Indiegogo is … it’s a means to fund projects by reaching out to the public, called crowdfunding.
Our project seeks funds to pay for publishing and publicizing our book, Allies & Angels. In return for your contribution, you have our sincere appreciation and you can choose from a list of perks. The perks vary from an eBook copy to a signed hardbound copy and beyond.
We were so inspired by the song How to Live that we included it in our video and our book. You visited our campaign and heard our pitch. So, we want you to have this complimentary copy of How to Live.
$10 Gimme an eBook
Get an eBook (pdf, epub, or Kindle) copy of Allies & Angels and a free download of the song, How to Live.
$20 Gimme a Paperback
Get a copy of Allies & Angels paperback including shipping in the US, and the song, How to Live.
$35 Count Me In
Get a signed copy of Allies & Angels paperback including shipping in the US, and the song, How to Live.
$45 Count Me In
Get a signed copy of Allies & Angels hardcover including shipping in the US, and the song, How to Live.
$150 Show My Support
For any contribution of $150 or more, we will acknowledge you in our book—anonymously if you choose. Also get a signed copy of Allies & Angels hardcover including shipping in the US, and the song, How to Live.
$1200 Please Come Talk
Terri will speak at your event anywhere within the US. Presentation can be tailored to your audience and needs. You will receive 10 copies of the book, which you can sell, raffle or give away. Receive group discounts for additional book purchases.
The Q Center is the LGBTQ youth center that helped save our son's life. We love the Q Center and are proud to support it. A dollar or more from every book sold will be donated to the Q Center.