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Two Spirits, One Heart: A Mother, Her Transgender Son, and Their Journey to Love and Acceptance Paperback – October 4, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1936833184 ISBN-10: 1936833182

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Two Spirits, One Heart: A Mother, Her Transgender Son, and Their Journey to Love and Acceptance + Transitions of the Heart: Stories of Love, Struggle and Acceptance by Mothers of Transgender and Gender Variant Children + Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Magnus Books (October 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936833182
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936833184
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #692,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author


Marsha Aizumi has combined a lifelong commitment to parenting, social causes, education and administration with her personal journey as the mother of a transgender son in Two Spirits, One Heart.

She is an advocate for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, helping to bring safe and nurturing high school diploma programs to students who face intolerable cruelty every day at their local high schools. Her dream is not to marginalize students, but to invite all harassed and bullied students to continue their education at locations that provide teachers and staff that value their individuality and see the greatness that they possess. Since February 2010, a high school diploma program has been offered through the partnership of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center’s LifeWorks Program and Opportunities for Learning Public Charter School. The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center is the largest gay and lesbian center in the United States. Marsha is currently working with a number of organizations across the nation to open similar programs. The good and bad experiences of her son, Aiden, inspired her to become involved; these are detailed in Two Spirits, One Heart. Her dream is that all LGBT and LGBT friendly students find places to graduate where they are treated with compassion and respect. Marsha has been married for 39 years to Tad Aizumi. She is the proud mother of two wonderful sons, Aiden Takeo and Stefen Lawrence.


Aiden Takeo Aizumi was born in Japan on May 24, 1988. Adopted by Tad and Marsha Aizumi, who named their baby Ashley Akemi Aizumi, he lived as a female for the first twenty years of his life. He attended public schools in Arcadia, California. In high school, he played varsity golf and was awarded MVP all four years. Coming out as a lesbian, he experienced intolerable cruelty daily in high school and was diagnosed agoraphobic with panic attacks. Barely graduating due to these issues, Aiden received a diploma from Arcadia High School in 2006.

In 2008, Aiden decided to transition to male. Since that day, his life has taken an upward turn. Currently, he works at the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center’s LifeWorks Program in a paid apprenticeship position for Public Allies. He is a program assistant responsible for community outreach, specifically reaching out to youth. Following the end of his apprenticeship, he will return to Pasadena City College, where he will continue his studies in Psychology with a minor in LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) Studies. Aiden is actively involved in the LGBTQ community. He serves on the Trevor Project National Youth Advisory Council, the Executive Board of Pasadena PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), and is currently in training for GLIDE (Gay and Lesbian Initiating Dialogue for Equality) to speak at high schools and colleges in the area to broaden the awareness of LGBT issues.

Aiden was awarded 2009 and 2010 scholarships from PFLAG Pasadena. In 2010, he was honored with the Paul A. Anderson Youth Leader Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force at their annual Creating Change Conference. Aiden believes by sharing his story and working in the community, he can bring hope to the LGBT youth of tomorrow.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Marching to a Different Beat

We marched side-by-side, my daughter and I, the smile on her face stretching almost as long as the band. I missed that smile. Where had it been all these years? At long last, Ashley seemed to be finding herself, five years after coming out as a lesbian. She was turning the corner after some very difficult intermediary years — for both of us. I could see it in her face, her movement. She marched with her head held high, part of a drum corps comprised of predominately gay and lesbian musicians. She felt happy. She played her music, and played it with people marching to the beat of the same drum - literally and figuratively.
It was a day worthy of celebration: Ashley and her drum corps band mates won first place. After the hugging and cheering were over, most of the group decided to continue the celebration by having dinner together. Initially, Ashley and I waited with the group for a large table to open up.
Eventually, we decided to skip the victory dinner and head home. I was tired from marching as an unofficial photographer, and Ashley’s mood clearly showed her preference. Happy just a few minutes before, she moped around, a scowl on her face, a black cloud hanging over her head. Anyone within ten feet could sense her irritability. How could an interior storm blow in so quickly on such a triumphant day, after a victorious performance? “I was binding all day; it was really getting uncomfortable,” she later said, referring to the uncomfortable way she tied down her breasts. She learned it from other lesbians who identify with their masculine side.
The pressure of the binding seemed to increase something else: Ashley's internal powder keg. A series of emotions and thoughts erupted from within. Like summer race riots partially attributable to the heat that percolates and boils already deep-seated resentments, her binding created a similar inability to hold back thoughts and feelings she had bottled up for years. She could restrain herself from expressing this resentment, but could not hide her unhappiness.
Totally baffled, I shook my head. Wasn't this the same girl I'd seen marching, smiling and celebrating a couple of hours before? I don't care who you are — and I'm every bit as observant and sensitive as any other mother — you will never convince me that any parent can solve the deep-ocean mystery known as a teenage girl's feelings.
We drove home in silence. My inner introvert recharged the way all introverts do: by withdrawing into my own quiet world. Ashley brooded beside me, also withdrawn and quiet, but for different reasons. We found a restaurant close to home and stopped for a quick dinner. Her mood was still surly, but we could make it through the meal. This wasn’t the first time, nor would it be the last, I reasoned.
So I thought.
It had been a long day for both of us. We’d eat dinner and drive home. I envisioned each of us walking into our separate bedrooms, she to find a happy place, me to read and crash on a Sunday night.
As we ate, I tried to make pleasant conversation, but she grew more ill tempered by the moment. Finally, I couldn't take it any more. I looked at her. “We have had the most wonderful day together. Your band performed so well and you took first place. And you have become grouchier by the minute. What is your problem?”
My exasperation now released like a spent geyser, I braced myself for a harsh response. Any number of possibilities could be heading my way: something I did, said, didn’t do or didn’t say. While my friends and colleagues know me well for sensing others accurately through verbal and non-verbal cues, my “A” game deserted me in this important moment: reading my daughter. I waited for her to tell me what new boundaries I’d apparently crossed.
“Momma, you promise you’re not going to get mad...”
My back stiffened. I didn't expect that response.
Since they were young, both of my children knew one of my cardinal rules of communication: use this phrase before confiding something that they knew would provoke a reaction from me. “If you warn Momma, then I can prepare myself not to get mad,” I’d said. “If you don’t warn Momma and tell me something that will make me mad, I will probably get mad.” My message was clear: if you blindside me, you will receive a negative reaction. If you prepare me, I can ground myself to hear the bad news. A couple of times, they’d failed to use the “promise” phrase, and felt the aftereffects. After that, my children, especially Ashley, grew very good at giving me a heads-up.
I responded in my usual way: “I promise, Ash.” My energy settled into a gentle and loving place as I watched her forehead crinkle and her eyes draw upward, formulating the words she'd say. Her body sank ever so slightly into a position of uncertainty, hesitation. I picked up deep fear. She later told me she felt like dinosaurs were running between her stomach and heart, big, loud and thumpy. "In that moment the restaurant around us disappeared, and all I could hear was my heart pounding like a drum.”
Ashley stared at the table between us. I waited, my own uneasiness building with each silent second.
Finally, the words tumbled out of her mouth like boulders down a mountainside: “I’m uncomfortable in my body now and I want to transition to a guy.”
She looked up at me warily, waiting for a response. For many living beings on this earth, eternities can be measured in seconds. Ashley looked like she was experiencing it.
My mind froze. I stopped breathing for what seemed like a minute; all extraneous noises and people disappeared from my consciousness. We looked across the table at each other. Ashley's eyes searched mine for an answer: When I told her I loved her, did I mean “forever, no matter what, and no matter who you are”? Her face wore her deepest fear: that I was two seconds away from rejecting her and throwing her out of the house, adding to the sad and disturbing collection of horror stories that accompany these types of revealing moments.
But I wasn’t thinking about rejection, transgendered kids, uncomfortable bodies or anything of the sort. Instead, the enormous missing scenes of a movie dropped into place: a two-year-old refusing to wear dresses and bows; a first grader announcing she was in love with a girl named Allie; a middle school student who didn’t feel like she fit in anywhere; a high school cutter and binder; a withdrawn, emotional and angry teenager who refused to wear the traditional black drape for senior pictures and opted to don a tuxedo like the other boys.
Often, I tried to grasp what the choices of my daughter meant. “Do you feel like you want to be a boy?” I once asked her.
“No, Momma.”
“But you dress like a boy, want to wear your hair like a boy and you don’t like anything girlie.”
“I am a butch lesbian. I just like boy things.”
Now, I realized she had finally come to terms with the truth: she could no longer masquerade as someone she was not. She wasn’t a butch lesbian.
She was a boy in a girl's body.
The voices in my head rushed to center stage. They fought for the microphone and began to speak all at once:
What does transition to a guy really mean?
Does she want to change into a boy physically?
What does THAT mean?
What will we call her?
How will I keep her safe?
The only thing I remember not hearing? An answer.
As these and other questions grappled for my spinning mind's attention, Ashley called herself "transgender;" more specifically, a female-to-male transgender or "FTM." Within her calm description, my academic mind picked up signs of contemplation, research and investigation. She'd thought this through. Conversely, although transgender was not a foreign word to me, I didn't use it. Or understand it fully. Heck, I was still learning how to be the mother of a lesbian.
Finally, I spoke. “How many people know about this decision?”
“No one, Momma, but you.”
Red flags raced up my protective pole. Flags of fear. I felt afraid for her because she was uncertain—not about her direction, but about whether people would accept her. Family members and friends still loved her when she came out as a lesbian, but she was also still a girl. Would they love her as a boy?
I had no answers. I didn’t know what it meant to be transgender. This unsettled me as much as Ashley’s revelation. I felt completely unprepared, out of control. As I sat in the chair, trying to pull myself together, my scurrying thoughts vacillated between several things: fear for Ashley’s personal safety and social acceptance; fear I wouldn’t have the answers to support her; fear of Ashley's acceptance within our family.
I didn’t know the process of becoming transgender. I didn’t know where to turn or who to ask for advice. I couldn’t think of a single person to whom I was comfortable turning for answers. I don't have to know the answers to something, but my comfort level relies on knowing where to turn, something at which I've become very proficient over the years as a businesswoman and educator.
Not this time.
However, I did know one thing, beyond the shadow of a doubt: since I was the first person to whom she’d announced this life-changing decision, I held a responsibility they didn't exactly cover in all those parenting books I'd read: setting the course to transition the family before Ashley's transition. It felt no less solemn and imposing than a championship game of chess, where one wrong move can doom you. My next move would determine how her father, brother, aunts and uncles, cousins, and other close family and friends would respond. More importantly, my actions, words and thoughts would tell Ashley how ...

More About the Author

Marsha Aizumi is an author, speaker, educator and advocate for the LGBT community, a cause she embraced due in large part to the harassment and bullying her son experienced throughout high school. Marsha also serves on the National Board of Directors for PFLAG, an organization that supports, educates and advocates for LGBT families. In this role, she hopes to change school culture to be more accepting of all students, as well as bring greater resources to the Asian Pacific Islander and transgender communities. Marsha is the author of Two Spirits, One Heart, a memoir that chronicles her journey from fear, shame and sadness to unconditional love and acceptance. She has spoken at colleges, universities around the country and in 2013 she traveled to China to address LGBT individuals and their parents.

For more information on Marsha Aizumi and her upcoming speaking engagements please visit

Customer Reviews

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This is a wonderful book and so well written.
Lanny Asamoto
This book is a must read for all teachers, psychologists, ministers and others in the helping professions.
Sacred Leadership
Two Spirits, One Heart is a remarkable story of pain and joy in an amazing family journey to acceptance.
Julie Nemecek

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J on October 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
I thought the book was extremely touching, and as an Asian trans person myself, I could relate to a lot of Marsha's personal experiences. I am in the very early stages of my transition, and her story of Aiden's transition made me realize that my family is going through their own transition process as well. The book reminded me that I need to be patient and support my family. Thank you for telling your heartfelt, genuine, and personal journey, for loving your family unconditionally, and for stressing the importance of open communication.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sacred Leadership on October 4, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Two Spirits, One Heart is a moving story about a family's journey into the transgender world as their daughter transitioned into their son. Marsha Aizumi shares her very personal and heartfelt struggle as she supported her son on his journey. This is not only a story about the LGBT community but also about the struggle for human rights by a group of people that are often misunderstood and forced into the shadows. This book is a must read for all teachers, psychologists, ministers and others in the helping professions. It will also provide support, understanding and a path forward for those who are currently undertaking this journey into the unknown.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Karen J B on October 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
The book was a wonderful gift to us mothers. Marsha captured her feelings of the mother of a son who has transitioned and I am sure that it will help others. It was an easy read, and I can better understand the struggles and successes of a gender change. Aiden's journey is somewhat unique, but what is wonderful is that he wrote about it so others could better walk the path and sympathize.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alexander D. Nakatani on March 18, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not many parents will travel this journey. For those that have, are and will, this is a healthy and loving way to unconditionally love your child however they end up evolving.....
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David N. Parker VINE VOICE on January 22, 2013
Format: Paperback
The unconditional love expressed by the author for her transgender (non-cisgender) son erupts off the page and into my heart. As the father of a transgender daughter, I recognize and share her overwhelming love for our strong, courageous, and beautiful transgender children.
It is not easy for a parent to travel this road with their child. Guilt, fear, and questioning surround the coming out and transition process. Guilt, in the form of questioning your parenting ability or skills; fear for your child, with the certain knowledge that your child's future will include bullying, harassment, and, potentially, violence; and questioning why this has happened with your child.
There is also joy. It warms your heart to see your child's inner being blossom into full expression of their inner self. There is the development of a closer bond with your child as you accept and support your child and the reality of who they are. There is new knowledge gained through recognizing and accepting this expression of natural diversity. Imagine - most of the parents in the world will never enjoy this opportunity!
Marsha Aizumi addresses this memoir in two segments - when she knew her child as Ashley and when she experienced her son instead. She is proud of his accomplishments, and she has joined him in his educational activism. She relates the support she and Aiden received from both loving family members and new friends - formerly strangers - during Ashley's recognition of her life and possibilities and their mutual struggles along the way. As an activist in the transgender community, I have witnessed the steps required of both parent and child to achieve full acceptance and share this journey.
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Format: Paperback
I was moved by this book for so many reasons; one being that I am a mother and I too share in the love for my children as Marsha has illustrated so beautifully in this book, and I have two transgender adult children. I could relate to so much of the heartache Marsha expressed in the beginning for her son, his safety and happiness and also to the joy in her heart as she watched him embrace his true self. This book gives me hope that there are people in this world that are making it a better, safer place for my family. Marsha and Aiden are paving the way, literally helping to create endless possibilities for the LGBT community to find joy, love and success. Thank you Marsha, for sharing your raw, human emotions with us, embracing them and turning them into empowerment. Thank you, Aiden for living your truth. What a powerful book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Harold Kameya on February 25, 2013
Format: Paperback
Marsha Aizumi's recently-released book "Two Spirits, One Heart" describes her family's courageous journey on uncharted paths with their transgender son.
Although ostensibly a personal account of a family's unique challenges, I felt an overwhelming sense that the book was a life lesson and a gift to all of us. It offers many lessons of unconditional love and family unity to us. It is a must read!
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