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2016 Cast: Introducing Terri Cook

by monicagebell on April 22, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 11.58.51 AMTerri, and her husband Vince, have been married 27 years and live in Chautauqua County with their beloved border collie, Missy. They’re the proud parents of two young men who are 20 and 24.  However, they didn’t always know they had two sons. For 15 years they believed they were raising a daughter. Their younger child, who they now know is their son, is transgender.
Co-author of the book, “Allies & Angels: A Memoir of Our Family’s Transition,” Terri is dedicated to opening hearts and minds by sharing her family’s life-changing journey. She speaks at conferences, corporations, colleges and community organizations across the country.  As she shares her family’s experience supporting their son’s transition, Terri offers best practices for schools, medical professionals and workplaces — and helps audiences understand transgender identities.
For several years Terri co-facilitated a support group for the parents of transgender and gender-questioning youth. She continues to educate and advocate, hoping to change society and our laws. Before becoming an author and advocate, Terri spent most of her career at Lockheed Martin, where she was a project engineer and Pride ERG Lead.

 

What first brought you to LTYM, why are you drawn to it or what inspired you to audition?

Last year, one of my favorite bloggers invited readers to check out her Listen to Your Mother Chicago 2015 video.  Not only was I moved by her video, but I ended up watching back-to-back LTYM videos for nearly three hours that day!

I listened to each of their stories of motherhood and children, dreams and despair, holding on and letting go. I sobbed, laughed and celebrated with each of them.  Their stories and life lessons were so similar to my own, despite our different situations.  I felt their vulnerability and their love and their desire to share their experience so that others may be touched in some way.
I’ve always believed that personal stories can bring people together and change the world.  I was inspired to make the long trip to Rochester, and be part of the LTYM family, because I hope my story can uplift, inspire, or heal someone who – like me – finds themself watching back-to-back LTYM videos one day!

 

What do you do for work? What do you love to do when you’re not working?

I spent most of my career in software engineering and leadership positions at GE and Lockheed Martin. However, I left Lockheed Martin a few years ago to become a full-time advocate, author, speaker and educator.
Our family has been through quite a journey, and I am now on a new journey … sharing our story via our book and speaking engagements.  We have had a life-changing experience, and I hope by sharing our story I might help change a lot of other lives, too.
When I’m not working, I’m enjoying the experience of being an “empty-nester.”  For years my life revolved around the needs of my family and community.  I’m grateful that after 27 years of marriage my husband and I are still crazy about each other… and we’re having a blast rediscovering the things we love to do!

 

What and/or who inspires you?

I am inspired by anyone who risks being vulnerable; who opens their heart and mind to see the beauty and goodness in others.  It can be difficult in our society to be different… especially when “different” simply means being yourself.  It can be difficult to love and support someone who is different.  Sometimes it is not just difficult, it can be unsafe. Some people are victims of crime, violence and other injustices, simply for being who they are.  I believe we are all more alike than different and every one of us want the same things – to be accepted, to be loved, to be seen and heard and know that we matter.
Every one of us matters. And every one of us has the power to make a difference, befriend and support one another, and change the world.  I admire, and aspire to be, one of those people.

 

What else would you want us to know about you? 

I’m just like you.  No matter who you are, I bet we are more alike than different.
So many people make assumptions or judgements when they learn I’m the parent of a transgender child, and that I supported my son’s transition at age 15.  Some find it hard to believe, hard to understand, hard to accept.
I get that. There’s so much fear, and lack of understanding, about what it means to be transgender. I bet that any question, doubt, or judgement you may have, I had at one time too.  The difference is, I had to get answers to those questions, and move beyond fear and doubt… because my child’s life depended on it.
I’m just like you.  I could be your sister, your neighbor, your childhood friend, your work colleague or a former classmate.  If you knew me, you’d probably like me. We’d probably be great friends.  And if we were, I have no doubt that then you’d understand.
I invite you to get to know me by reading more on our website: alliesandangels.com.

 

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