||A Mother, Her
Transgender Son, and Their Journey to Love and Acceptance
What would you do if your daughter said that she wanted to change her
gender to male?
• Marsha Aizumi, mother of a transgender child, spoke about “A Mother,
Her Transgender Son, and Their Journey to Love and Acceptance” at Northeastern
University on March 31. The event was a part of the university’s “International
Transgender Day of Visibility.”
• After 16 years of marriage with Tad,
Marsha Aizumi adapted a three-month-old-girl from Japan in 1988 and named
her Ashley. As the baby grew, she disliked the color pink and dolls. At
Halloween, she preferred wearing a super-hero costume such as Batman or
Superman. Marsh found one day that Ashley wrote an essay in grade school,
“If I am a boy…”
• When Ashley entered middle school,
she wondered to which group she would belong. Locker rooms were separated
for boys and girls, and the students began to play different sports such
as girls playing women’s sports. When Ashely joined boys, they didn’t
like her coming to their side. She didn’t fit in with either boys or girls.
• Marsha thought that Ashley was at a difficult age, and things would
be better soon, but the situation turned much worse when she entered high
• She gained some weight and developed
muscles. She came out as a lesbian when she was 15. In high school, she
was bullied by her classmates. She was hit by a baseball bat and other
time punched in her eyes. She was also rejected by her church.
• She was depressed and began to engage in self-mutilation. She said that
her inner side was much more painful than her body. She was diagnosed
• She thought that she wouldn’t live to see her 18th birthday, but the
one thing that saved her was golf. She played varsity golf and received
the MVP award all four years.
• However, her difficult situation continued.
One day, she told Marsha that she wasn’t returning to school when she
became a senior. As an educator, Marsha was devoting herself to helping
dropouts at that time, so her own daughter’s dropout was a problem. She
talked with Ashley’s teachers, and fortunately the school allowed her
to help Ashley to get her diploma from home.
• Six months before her 21st birthday,
Ashley said to Marsha that she was not a lesbian, but a transgender. She
was a boy with a girl’s body and wanted to her body to be aligned with
what she thought and felt.
• On her 21st birthday, she changed her name to Aiden, and later had surgery
to remove her breasts. Marsha said that the birthday was a turning point.
Aiden regained her smile and began to participate in LGBT (lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender) activities. He thought that being a transgender
was not something to hide, but something that part of who he was.
• Aiden joined a marriage equality march in Washington D.C., and Marsha
accompanied him. She said, “I saw my son was marching down the street
and was so proud of him.” She also said, “He said to me, ‘I want to be
an advocate to change the world, not just to LGTB individuals, but for
anybody who sees a difference.’”
• Aiden has attended the University of
La Verne and going to graduate with a BA this spring. During his college
years, he was involved in the LGBT activities. He was awarded 2013 and
2014 Higher Education Grant from PFLAG Pasadena and received many other
• In 2012, he was selected as one of 15 members who were invited to the
White House and met President Obama in a LGBT reception.
• In November, 2013, He married Mary, a school psychologist who had experienced
discrimination because her hair didn’t grow at all.
• Beside his activities, Aiden has worked with Marsha to bring high school
diploma programs to LGBT youth who were dropping out or have dropped out
of high school due to harassment and bullying.
• Marsha Aizumi said that children, who
thought that they were different from others, tended to feel guilt, anger,
sadness, and fear. On the other hand, as a parent, Marsha felt guilty
if she had too much work or thought she was being a bad mother. As a family,
they felt sadness that they had to give up seeing their daughter’s future.
• Marsha remembered many anxieties until her daughter became her son.
These were the safety of her child, obtaining good jobs, influence on
her family, and if she was doing the best for her child.
• In that circumstance, her love to her child was unconditional. She committed
to her son and educated herself, so that she could help other parents
who had the same anxiety.
• She said that her love for her son was taking a mother’s responsibility.
If it was not working, she could fix it. She also kept open-heart communication
and often showed gratitude to her son.
• After Marsha spoke at the podium, she
answered Shimpo’s interview questions.
• Regarding the Japanese American (JA) community, she said that the majority
of them were friendly, but she knew many people discriminated against
• Last November, Marsha organized an event called “Okaeri”, which meant
“Welcome back to home.” The event was sponsored by the JA National Museum.
She said, “What we wanted to do was welcoming people into this space.
That was Nikkei (JAs).” “I think that older people just don’t understand
it, and I’m trying to build ties between 9066 and LGBT because it is the
same. People were afraid of Japanese, so they put JAs in camps. People
are afraid of LGBT, so they want push them away. So they are similar,”
• The event “Okaeri” drew about 200 people, and the similar events were
held in Seattle, San Jose, and San Diego. Marsh said, “They are doing
small events, but more Nikkei communities are taking it up through PFLAG
• Marsha Aizumi is a speaker, educator,
and advocate for the LGBT community, a cause she embraced due in large
part to the harassment and bullying that her son experienced throughout
high school. She is also the author of “Two Sprits, One Heart.”
Marsha Aizumi Addapted a three-month-old girl from
Aiden smiled on his 21st birthday for the first
time since he suffered.
Aiden began to participate in LGBT activities after his 21st birthday.
The above photos are borrowed from Marsha's presentation.