Friday, May 4, 2012

"She Brings Honor to Our Family, and That is Good"

Our guest blogger today is Marsha Aizumi, mother of two children, Aiden and Stefen.  She is the author of Two Spirits, One Heart: A Mother, Her Transgender Son, and Their Journey to Love and Acceptance, due to be released by Magnus Books in September 2012.  She was recently elected to the PFLAG National Board of Directors.

New Years Day . . . a big holiday for Japanese families.  I am about twelve years old and excited to go to a relative’s home to eat all the special New Year’s foods, food symbolic of everyone’s hope for the year to come.   Black beans eaten for health, shrimp for longevity, sweet potatoes with chestnuts for wealth and financial success.   And our house has to be cleaned top to bottom, because my mom would say, “Your house will be as clean throughout the year as it is on New Year’s Day.”
Marsha's Maternal Grandmother
Now at our relative’s house, I am sitting around the table with my plate of health, wealth, longevity, and more wishes, listening to the adults talking about grandparents and ancestors long gone.  “We have a rich and highly respected family name,” the obvious patriarch of the group proudly declares.   “Only do things that will bring our family respect and honor.  Never bring shame to our name.”  My parents, aunts and uncles nod their head in agreement.

Marsha's Paternal Grandparents
Years later when my child came out as lesbian and later transitioned to male, I remember hearing that same voice saying, “Never bring shame to our family.”  For a while, this voice forced me into the closet, and I could not openly talk about my lesbian child. I was afraid that I would be judged a terrible mother who brought dishonor to her family.  But slowly through support from PFLAG, by reading  and increasing my awareness of what being LGBT meant, and through talking to other families, especially mothers, I realized I did nothing wrong.  My child was born this way and I had to make choice.  I chose to love my child.  When my daughter later transitioned to be my son, I would occasionally hear that voice talking about shame somewhere in the distance, but I was wiser, stronger, and less fearful now.

Marsha's Parents
In the end, I have decided to honor my family name by loving both of my children, by sharing our family’s journey, and by working hard to make this world safer for all LGBT individuals. I think my parents would be proud of the mother I am today and I truly believe that my ancestors are quietly shaking their heads in affirmation saying, “She brings honor to our family and that is good. ”