Authentic Selves: Celebrating Trans and Nonbinary People and Their Families
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About the Author
Peggy Gillespie, MA, CSW, is the cofounder and director of Family Diversity Projects, a nonprofit organization devoted to helping eliminate prejudice, stereotyping, bullying, and harassment of people who are discriminated against due to sexual orientation, gender identity, race, national origin, religion, and disabilities of all kinds. The organization tells the stories of real people presented in award-winning traveling photo and text exhibits. These exhibits tour communities nationwide in schools, universities, houses of worship, libraries, workplaces, museums, and other institutions. Gillespie is the editor of all of the exhibits and books, including Love Makes a Family: Portraits of LGBT People and their Families, among others. She is also an actress and performed recently in the award-winning show A 24-Decade History of Popular Music starring Taylor Mac.
Jazz Jennings is the star of the award-winning TLC documentary series I Am Jazz. She is a twenty-one-year-old LGBTQ rights activist, author, and a student at Harvard University. Jazz wasn't allowed to use the girls' restroom in her elementary school for five years and was prohibited from playing girls' soccer in her state for more than 2 years. After a long battle, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) created a policy to include all transgender athletes who want to play soccer. In 2021, The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC opened an exhibit called Girlhood . . . It's Complicated, which included Jazz's life story, making her the first transgender girl to be featured as an historical figure.
Jeanette Jennings is married to her soulmate Greg and a proud mom of four adult children. Jeanette spreads her message of unconditional love and acceptance through media and speaking engagements all over the United States and is the Co-founder and President of the Transkids Purple Rainbow Foundation, which helps to support transgender youth.
"Authentic Selves is a perfect ensemble book that truly embodies the importance of visibility and the power of love. Love glows from every page." --from the foreword by Jazz and Jeanette Jennings
"Please share this book with someone who might need to learn more. When you give it to them, gently suggest that they read with an open mind . . . If you are someone who has never knowingly met or gotten to know a person who is trans or nonbinary, and none of what you know on the subject was from a trans person, do everything you can to take in the stories of the people on these pages. Any one of them could be your neighbor, your friend, your local official, a person you know from your faith community--or your own child." --from the preface by Brian K. Bond, Executive Director of PFLAG National
"As a Black, genderqueer woman, I had no role models or positive representation of what it meant to be someone who identified outside of the binary. For me, the lack of visibility for those who were just like me led to a long and arduous road to self-acceptance. . . . I wish I had a book like Authentic Selves on my journey. The beautiful images in this book are more than pictures; they represent freedom. The stories in this book are not merely words but medicine for our wounds created by a society that's not yet ready to accept our truth. It's critical that we see and learn about the full spectrum of our identities; it is just as essential for the world to see." --Stacey Stevenson, CEO of Family Equality
"As the mom of two trans kids, Authentic Selves brought tears of recognition to my eyes. And as a professional in the national LGBTQ+ community and as an ordained pastor and director of a non-profit that supports LGBTQ+ individuals and those who love them it brought me joy to know that this beautiful book will become a lifeline for the increasing number of faith leaders, educators, and families who will now have an expertly crafted volume to guide and inspire with real stories from real lives." --Rev. Marian Edmonds-Allen, Executive Director of PARITY
"It feels wildly ambitious to create a single resource that is able to provide the reader with a window into the rich, varied lives of gender-diverse people. Yet Authentic Selves does just that by introducing us to everyday trans and nonbinary people and the family members who are brilliantly and lovingly on the journey with them." --Aidan Key, founder of Trans Families and author of Trans Children in Today's Schools
"Peggy Gillespie continues her pioneering work, this time by offering a safe space for trans and nonbinary people and their families to discuss the joys and challenges of openly living their authentic lives. These inspiring accounts offer indisputable proof that love conquers all. The words and photographs found here have the potential to save lives and make the world a safer place for everyone." --Lesléa Newman, author of Heather Has Two Mommies and Sparkle Boy
"Authentic Selves is exquisite proof that transgender and nonbinary people don't have to ask for permission to participate in the creativity of our own survival. Here are our families. Here is our love. There's no denying." --Taylor Mac, theatre artist and author of Joy and Pandemic, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus, and A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, among others
"Authentic Selves gives us a gift of truth so crucial in this time of fear and violence. Readers are invited in to stories of abundant possibility. The unapologetic truth is that trans and gender creative people live, love, become, and belong--and always have." --Dr. Kia Darling-Hammond, co-editor of T* is for Thriving: Blueprints for Affirming Trans* and Gender Creative Lives and Learning in Schools
"I've always believed in the power of stories to crack our hearts wide open with fierce love and empathy as we listen to the unique journeys of the people we encounter. Peggy Gillespie's interviews open windows into the powerful stories of these amazing trans and nonbinary people and their families. Their stories will bring tears to your eyes, widen your aperture of compassion, and make a knowing smile curl on your lips. Though each human is unique in their beauty, we are also so much alike in our yearnings to be seen, known, and loved. Authentic Selves will help create such spaces that begin in the mind and heart of each reader." --Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, public theologian, author of Fierce Love, and Senior Minister of Middle Collegiate Church