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08/05/2015 02:45 pm ET

How My Trans Son Found The Language To Tell Me Who He Really Is

Author Terri Cook explains the power of words in owning an LGBT identity.

For an LGBT person, the path to understanding one's identity and sexuality is often difficult and confusing. Even finding the rights words to describe themselves can be a challenge. For Terri Cook, the author of Allies & Angels and mother to a transgender son, it was the language associated with her son's transition that she believed was an essential key to his safety and comfort during this time.

"My son came out to us at 15," Cook told HuffPost Live's Alex Berg on Tuesday. "But that was after many years of struggling with depression and anxiety and bullying because he couldn't find the words to describe what it was about why he didn't fit in."

Before he could understand his gender identity, Cook's son first came out as a lesbian. His parents found him an LGBT center called The Q Center in Syracuse, New York, where he could discover a new community though youth group sessions. It was there he realized his authentic self and learned through dialogue with others how to express that.

"Then he had the language. He had the language to be able to share with us who he is," Cook said. "He understood. First there was just this wonderful relief knowing there was a word to describe who he is, knowing that he wasn't alone and that there were others like him."

Watch Cook discuss what it means to understand trans identity in the video above, and click here for the full segment on what it's like being the parent of a trans child.

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