For 15 years, Terri and Vince Cook thought they had a daughter.
But as they watched their child change from the vibrant, happy kid they’d always known to a withdrawn, depressed and ultimately suicidal teen, they knew something was very wrong.
“We’d been through the hard teenage years with [our older son], and we’d seen this,” Terri Cook said. “This was different. This was someone who was just struggling and nobody could figure out why.”
Drew Cook did not wish to be interviewed for this story, though he fully supports his parents in their efforts to tell their story and promote the book they wrote, “Allies and Angels.” Drew wrote the foreword to the book, in which he said the following:
“I hope that I can help others by enthusiastically supporting my mom and dad as they bravely put their faces, lives and feelings up for public scrutiny. Although I fully support my parents in this endeavor, I’m not going on the book tour or doing any interviews to help publicize their book. I got a late start being Andrew, and I’m ready to begin a new chapter in my life — just as my parents are starting a new chapter in their lives. I look forward to meeting new people in college, and I don’t want to be known as ‘that trans guy.’ I want to be known for my character and achievements, not for my medical condition. I am finally getting to be a teenager and have a plain old normal life. I hope you can understand, respect and accept that.”
It took years of turmoil before the Cooks could determine the root of the problem: Drew Cook was transgender, which meant that although he was physically female, he identified mentally and emotionally as a male.
Since Drew’s epiphany three years ago, the Cooks, who live in Central New York (to protect Drew’s privacy, they have asked not to disclose exactly which town), have come a long way. They’ve also written a book about their journey, “Allies and Angels: A memoir of our family’s transition.” It’s available at alliesandangels.com or on Amazon.com, and social workers, educators and youth workers can get electronic copies for free at alliesandangels.com. They’ve had to educate themselves on a topic on which they freely admit to at one time being completely ignorant. Terri Cook said her hope is that, by sharing their story, they can help others in the same position.