COLUMN: How a fortuitous meeting opened my mind

Editor's note: This column relates to Sarah Hall’s recent article “Becoming Drew: CNY family discusses coming to terms with son’s transgender journey,” which can be found here.

When I first met Vince Cook, I was working part-time as a server at the Market Diner in Syracuse. Vince was sitting alone, drinking coffee and reading a book on editing. He told me that he and his wife Terri were writing and publishing a book. He didn’t tell me the topic at that time, nor did I ask. We simply began to talk about the writing industry, and that it has always been a dream of mine to write a book as well. I gave him my card for freelance work, and after his breakfast, he thanked me and left.

A few weeks later Vince approached me through email asking if I would consider working with them. He then apprised me of its sensitive content and asked if I knew anybody who is transgender or knew of the challenges faced by transgender individuals. I admitted that I did not; however, I took the opportunity I was given to learn and accepted the position as their development editor.

At first meeting, I would have never guessed their book, “Allies and Angels,” would be about their journey through their son’s transition from “girl” to boy. It took me by surprise, really. Vince was normal. He was well-educated; he and his wife were both successful engineers and married for more than 20 years. How could something like this happen in such a typical, functional American family?

Unfortunately, that’s what most people think when not educated on matters that don’t directly affect their own lives. As I came to know Vince, Terri and their kids, I realized they are no different than any other family. They have two children, and one of them was born with a condition that for many people is extremely hard to grasp — this included Vince and Terri at one time. They had the same questions as anyone else would have: How can a baby, born a girl anatomically, be a boy? It makes no sense. But it does, actually, when you inform yourself with the evidence provided through medical research.

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