The following post comes from Marilyn Abalos, member of HRC’s Board of Governors in the HRC Greater New York Steering Committee
Together with the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, PFLAG NYC, the Empire State Pride Agenda, and the Transgender Women of Color Collective, the HRC Greater New York Steering Committee hosted Terri Cook, co-author of Allies and Angels, on Friday, Sept 19 in New York City to discuss her experiences and her book. As a mother of a transgender son, Terri spoke about their family’s journey in the home of Mrs. Betsy Malcom, long -time volunteer and member of HRC Greater New York Diversity Committee.
As proud parents of two young men, Terri and her husband faced something that wasn’t covered in any of the parenting books they read. For fifteen years, they believed they were raising a daughter. However, their precious younger child, whom they now know is their son, is transgender. Terri shared her family’s journey through fear, uncertainty, and heartbreak … to understanding, acceptance, and joy as she and her husband supported their teenage son’s transition. Terri has been sharing her family’s story with schools and colleges, groups and public officials. She expressed hope that transgender people and their families can be emboldened and encouraged by her family’s story, and that readers of her book can come to learn and begin to understand transgender issues. “It means so much to me to be able to share our story and hopefully make a difference by increasing awareness and compassion,” she said.
Marilyn Abalos, member of HRC’s Board of Governors, cited HRC President Chad Griffin’s speech at the Southern Comfort Conference in Atlanta where he apologized to the transgender community for past mistakes by HRC and reiterated his pledge to fight for transgender rights through legislation, discussion, and action. Marilyn expressed her hope that, in light of Chad’s speech, the coming-together of community partners for the event can be the “start of a new era, new dawn, a new year of engagement.”
Melissa Sklarz, former president of the Stonewall Democrats in NYC, Empire State Pride Agenda Board Member, and HRC Women & Leadership Alum, emphasized how effective Terri is in Albany and New York State in influencing NY Senate and Assembly legislators. A long-time HRC Federal Club member, Terri is on the Board of Pride Agenda as well.
Sheila Sable, Director of Organizing of Empire State Pride Agenda, said, “Very heartened to see members of the Trans Women of Color Collective leading the discussion this evening in partnership with HRC Greater New York. I am very much looking forward to Pride Agenda's participation on the HRC Greater New York Diversity Committee’s Transgender Engagement Team, and hope we can talk about upstate representation, given the statewide need for the passage of GENDA (Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act), and other policy work affecting all trans and gender non-conforming New Yorkers.”