About the Author
Marsha is an educator and advocate for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, a cause she embraced due, in large part, to the harassment and bullying her son experienced throughout high school. She is 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 to invite all harassed and bullied students who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out to continue their education at locations with staff that value their individuality and see their potential greatness. 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 hoping to work with a number of organizations across the nation to open similar programs. Her vision is that all LGBT and LGBT friendly students find places to graduate where they are treated with compassion and respect.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Marsha moved to Southern California at an early age. She earned her BA from California State University at Los Angeles, majoring in American Studies and minoring in English. She went on to receive her secondary teaching credential.
Unable to get a teaching position, she obtained positions in aerospace and human resources before taking over a family-owned property and casualty insurance agency, which she ran for 15 years. After becoming a mother, she decided to retire and raise her children. She became very involved in her children's schools, but also was called upon to help in various outside writing areas, such as developing seminar programs. She helped write curriculum and teach a 90-day goal-setting program. She also wrote curriculum for a parenting workshop and taught in Los Angeles and Japan.
During this time, in 1988, California charter school pioneers John and Joan Hall asked her to sit on the Board of Directors for one of their charter schools. At her first board meeting, John asked her to work for Options for Youth (OFY) to develop and teach a Leadership and Career Development (LCD) Program.
Working for the Halls never involved just one project or task as Marsha quickly learned. She has worked for the majority of the Hall's twenty-three companies developing, teaching, implementing and managing experiential learning programs, as well as creating and overseeing major events such as graduations, area and management team buildings, and holiday parties. At the same time, she infused the heart and core values of what the company represented through creation of the Floral Presentation, Spirit Awards, Circle of Light Awards and ceremony.
As Director of Educational Programs, Marsha has guided the implementation of Leadership Camps, College Tours, and a Scholarship Program that worked with economically disadvantaged students to apply for college admittance, obtain financial aid and prepare to attend four-year universities. In addition, she managed a school site in Chicago, which worked with Chicago Public School dropouts ages 18-21, helping them realize their dream to graduate high school as well as developing and overseeing a work study program in Colorado. Marsha transitioned to an educational consultant in 2011 to focus her attention on her advocacy work in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, as well as her writing.
Also in 2011, Marsha was elected to the Parents, Family and Friends for Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) National Board of Directors. 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 community. Her first book Two Spirits, One Heart, a memoir about a mother and son's journey through transition is scheduled for release in September 2012 by Magnus Books.
Aiden Takeo Aizumi was born in Japan on May 24, 1988. Adopted by Tad and Marsha Aizumi, he lived as a female for the first twenty years of his life. He attended public 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. Unable to attend school as a result of his agoraphobia, Aiden barely finished high school, but did receive his diploma from Arcadia High School in 2006.
From 2006 to 2008, Aiden struggled with college and finding his path. But he never gave up. In 2008, Aiden shared his desire to transition to male. Since that day, his life has taken an upward turn. His focus for academic achievement returned. He enrolled at Pasadena City College where he decided to major in Psychology with a minor in LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) Studies. Besides being a college student, he worked part-time as Human Resources Assistant; a position he held for six years. Aiden is actively involved in the LGBT community. He serves on the Trevor Project National Youth Advisory Council and Executive Board of Pasadena PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), is a LifeWorks mentee and has volunteered to speak at high schools and colleges in the area to broaden the awareness of LGBT issues. In his spare time, he loves music and plays both piano and drums.
Aiden recently was awarded 2009 and 2010 scholarships from PFLAG Pasadena. Earlier in 2010, he was honored with the Paul A. Anderson Youth Leader Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Dallas, Texas. Aiden also works with his mother to bring high school diploma programs to LGBT youth who are dropping out or have dropped out of high school due to harassment and bullying. Aiden's dream of working for an LGBT non-profit came true, when he was selected by Public Allies in 2010 to work at LifeWorks as a paid intern. He hopes to share his journey with others and bring hope and empowerment to youth who need support. He believes his story of success can be theirs as well.