An epilogue has been added to Two Spirits, One Heart, to chronicle the years following the book’s release…
By Christopher Turner
Marsha Aizumi’s co-written memoir Two Spirits, One Heart: A Mother, Her Transgender Son and Their Journey To Love and Acceptance won universal praise when it was first published in 2012, for sharing the author’s compelling story of parenting a young woman who came out as a lesbian, then transitioned to male. The inspiring book chronicled Aizumi’s personal journey of growth in understanding as her son struggled to reconcile his gender identity. Now the book is being republished with the addition of an epilogue from Aizumi as she shares how the original publication opened doors for both her and her son Aiden, and impacted their lives.
We recently caught up with Aizumi and here’s what she had to say.
For those who haven’t read the original book, can you tell us about it?
Two Spirits, One Heart is about a mother’s journey from shame, sadness and fear to unconditional love and acceptance as she walks with her child, assigned female at birth, who transitions to be her son. Along the way, she decides that if the world is going to be safer for her son, she must stand by him and become a visible advocate. Stepping onto this unknown path, this mother and son not only find their individual voices, but find a purpose and deeper connection to each other and the LGBTQ+ community.
What has been the best part of this journey for you?
There were so many parts of this journey that were incredible, so it is hard to distill it down to one thing. But I think one of the best parts of this journey was truly learning what words like courage, love, gratitude, hope and joy deeply feel like. Before this journey, I thought I understood what those words meant. Yet when you face fear but you move forward anyway, you truly feel to the core of your being what courage, love and hope are. When your child, who barely graduated from high school, walks on stage to get his Master’s degree, and marries someone who loves all of who he is, you realize what true joy and gratitude can be. The feeling is more meaningful because you have faced adversity and come out the other side stronger and with greater understanding.
What’s your relationship with Aiden like today?
Aiden and I are closer than we have ever been. We speak the truth to each other. I trust him, respect him and love him more than I ever thought possible. We have these conversations that move into my heart and never leave. Once I told him, … ‘Aiden, I love you more.’ And he responded, ‘That’s impossible, Mom.’ Another time I told him that our dog had the ‘I love my mommy disease’ and Aiden replied, ‘I have that disease too.’ As national speakers, one of the things we hear most frequently is that people can feel the love that flows between us. Our love is transparent and we are not afraid to show it to the world.
What do you hope parents can take away from reading Two Spirits, One Heart?
I hope parents walk away knowing that coming out is not only a process for your child, but for you as well. You will have to face some of the negative emotions that you or your circle of family or friends may have. To navigate this journey, getting support from groups like PFLAG (a national organization for parents, friends, allies and LGBTQ+ people), and educating myself to be the best parent I could be, were so important. I hope parents realize that this can be the most amazing journey if you love your child with your whole heart – which means listening, really listening, to what they say and don’t say, apologizing when you make a mistake, taking responsibility for making your relationship what you want it to be, but most of all reassuring your child that you will always love them.
What do you hope transgender youth can take away from reading Two Spirits, One Heart?
I hope transgender youth understand that your parents are trying to figure out what all this means, just like you had to figure out who you are. Give your parents time to process through all their feelings. I felt so much shame, not about Aiden, but about being a bad mother. I basically went into the closet myself and somehow I had to find my way. Your parents might be sad, so give them time to grieve the loss of the child and the dreams they had for their child. Be patient and compliment your mom and dad when they do something right. It may be frustrating for you at times, so find someone that you can get support from, and take time away when you need to. If you are in a toxic situation, surround yourself with a chosen family that can love and support you. And in the end, just know that no matter what others may say, you are beautiful and deserve to be loved for all of who you are.
Anything else you’d like to share?
When Aiden was at his lowest point, he was withdrawn, depressed and suicidal. But even though I was struggling in the beginning, he knew he was loved. Research from the Family Acceptance Project shows that with even a small amount of parental support, harmful behaviours, such as turning to drugs or suicide, are greatly reduced. I wish I would have told Aiden ‘I love you’ more often and hugged him every day. I was lucky that he never lost hope.
Marsha Aizumi’s republished co-written memoir Two Spirits, One Heart: A Mother, Her Transgender Son and Their Journey To Love and Acceptance is available in select bookstores now with downloads available at iTunes and Kobo. For more information, visit marshaaizumi.com.
CHRISTOPHER TURNER acted as guest editor for this issue of IN Magazine. He is a Toronto-based writer, editor and lifelong fashionisto with a passion for pop culture and sneakers. Follow him on social media at @Turnstylin.