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Dear Friends,

When Isaac graduated from Stanford in June, our whole family was bursting with pride, gratitude and hope. His life is full of promise and so many dreams. We are also thankful for how far we’ve come as a family and for all the people who helped us along the way — especially our family at The Center.

By volunteering at The Center, I’ve had the chance to meet with countless LGBT people and their families. Many individuals and families just need to find somebody who is going through something like they are, and The Center provides that safe space to get support, validation and life-changing information.

I know this on a personal level, because at one point I needed exactly that type of help. I’m sharing my family’s story with you now because The Center has meant so much to my son and me — and we want to make sure that The Center is there for others.

When Isaac was born, the hospital labeled him a girl. That never really fit. From an early age, he always dressed and behaved like a boy. This wasn’t really an issue for us, as our family just accepted the difference. But as he began to enter puberty, things started to change. Isaac, my youngest, had always been a very happy, loved and expressive child. But he began to struggle emotionally and withdrew from the people and activities he’d once enjoyed. I could see the pain he was in, and I was determined to do whatever I could to help him find a way out of that pain. It is unbearable to watch your child suffer.

Then, one night, 10 years ago, Isaac told me he was transgender. I knew I needed to do something and I contacted The Center. My issue wasn’t that I didn’t accept him or thought this was wrong; I was simply desperate to quickly find the resources that my son needed to feel better. And I also needed support. The Center was there for us.

At The Center, I found ways to better understand and protect my kid. Center staff, especially in Latin@ Services and Project TRANS, coached me and stood with me. They gave me information and referrals that helped make Isaac’s transition healthy and safe. They answered all my difficult, and personal, questions. And, most importantly, they did it in a way that affirmed and validated my son’s identity, and mine.

As an immigrant to this country, English is my second language. The Latin@ Services staff understood my culture and my family, and provided me with support and strength in my own language. The Center was always there for us, helping us find the services we needed at that time — even if they didn’t exist at The Center itself.

Now, I am so glad that I can pass on this type of hope to our community, particularly to our community of families with transgender kids and our Latino community. Our family is proof that LGBT children are not only accepted and supported, but can be truly cherished for the unique diversity they bring.

Once Isaac transitioned, his world opened up. Wherever he goes, whatever he does, his family will always be there for him. And so will The Center.

In an ideal world, Isaac’s transition would be every trans person’s experience and all LGBT kids would have supportive families, schools and communities. Even though that is not true for every LGBT youth yet, The Center and my family are working to make that dream a reality.

For that reason, I hope you will join us in contributing to The Center. Together, we can make a difference for LGBT people and our families.