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Marsha Aizumi

Below is an interview of author Marsha Aizumi who wrote Two Spirits, One Heart. In this podcast, Aizumi discussed her experiences as the mother of a transgender son with Brooklyn Walker, an undergraduate studying Sociology here at the University of Northern Colorado. Marsha Aizumi goes through how her experiences have been shaped by culture, the journey that her son and family have taken towards understanding, and the work she is currently a part of to improve tolerance and acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth.

Two Spirits, One Heart book excerpt

Interview of Marsha Aizumi

By Brooklyn Walker

Marsha Aizumi is a woman with many accomplishments including being an author, advocate, and leader. However, the role of most importance in her life has been being a mother to her two children. Her book, “Two Spirits, One Heart,” became an inspiration to all transitioning through the new frontier of being transgender in the coming age. Two Spirits allows a new awareness in a world of people that are assumed to live out a single identity. This identity shapes how they see and experience the world. Aizumi's son lives life through two spirits, the first 20 years of his life as a woman, and after that as a man. However, he always had one heart and was the same person struggling to find his identity. She mentions that her book reminds her Aiden’s experience not only allowed him to find himself but for her to find her son. One Heart references both his journey as well as their journey together. Transitioning, of course, affects people in different ways, and is not often black and white. Aiden faced bullying and harassment from peers in high school and struggled with self-harm. Aizumi’s son often protected his mom from the details of bullying until the self-harm led to further conversation. This allowed a place for Aiden to get help from a therapist and begin the journey of finding himself. Being from a Japanese culture that was not welcoming towards these identities, Aizumi feared both the cultural response to Aiden as well as the potential dishonor to their family and heritage. Fear of these ideas that are not commonly known throughout the culture led to isolation. She faced the choice of maintaining the expectations of her ancestors or allowing her son to become the happy person he was meant to be. Japanese culture has strong ties to ancestry as well as family leading to a lot of weight on their shoulders. She decided to find power and confidence in her son, “I understand that being LGTBQ is not a choice, it's not a lifestyle, it's who you are. I always feel my son doesn’t have a choice, but I do.” In realizing the strength of her choice she was able to change the course of her son’s life, her own, and the lives of many others.

Education is vital to allowing understanding to those facing fear. Aizumi acknowledges the importance of education to the movement saying, “We need to educate to be aware, I think a lot of the things that happen are due to fear, people are afraid. If they just meet somebody, if they talk to somebody, and hear the stories I think that would lessen the fear, because that helped me a lot.” From there she made her way into advocacy for transgender people, specifically the Asian Pacific Islander community, and became a writer. She now speaks to communities about her story and is on the board for PFLAG, a community for parents of LGBTQ children. Marsha Aizumi is a woman of powerful leadership, love, and understanding. With unconditional love for her son, an open mind, and a passion for justice she began a powerful change the world needed to see.

Disclaimer: The opinion expressed in each article is the opinion of its author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the PUGS editors, Gender Studies program, or UNC. Therefore, PUGS e-zine carries no responsibility for the opinion expressed thereon.