Transgender woman and her mother launch online effort to combat prejudice

LOS ANGELES -- If someone in your life came out as transgender - a parent, spouse, child, sibling, friend or a student - would you know what to do or say?

If you're trying to figure out the best way to support a transgender person in your life, there's a webinar that can help. Jackie Thornhill is the co-founder of Transgender School, which has put out a 90-minute video that helps teach how to be a true ally for your loved ones.

"It was not easy. My parents pushed back a lot, and they didn't accept who I was when I first came out," said Thornhill.

Thornhill is a transgender woman. Telling her mom four years ago wasn't easy.

"I didn't understand how my child could come out at 19 without me having any signs that I knew of, and I really struggle to understand, to accept, to support her," said Bridget Sampson, Thornhill's mom.

Wanting to help other families through the process, Thornhill and her mom created Transgender School, a support-based online site helping people understand how to be affirming, what mistakes to avoid and what language to use.

"It took months of me advocating for myself, standing up to my parents and saying 'No, this is my name, these are my pronouns, I'm sure that I'm a woman, this is who I am,' and that this is not going to change," Thornhill said. "It's not a phase, it's not something you can talk me out of and continuing to push back is only going to harm our relationship."

Just in time for Pride Month, their Transgender School has released a new 90-minute video, "Becoming a True Ally."

"We reenacted key conversations when she came out, where I didn't understand, and I challenged and I pushed back, and I did things I now know are incredibly harmful and hurtful," said Sampson.

"If you go to TransgenderSchool.org you'll see a lot of great resources we've compiled there. We're also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram," said Thornhill.

According to the family acceptance project at San Francisco State University, high levels of "family rejecting behavior" results in eight times higher risk of suicide attempts. Thornhill and her mom hope their school and their video will help change those statistics by reaching as many people as possible.

"Teachers, community members, neighbors, anyone in a transgender person's life, even people who don't know anyone or think they don't know anyone who is transgender, they all need to learn what we're teaching," said Sampson.

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