Our Stories

Families

“He She Ze and We was one of the first resources that truly helped us understand support available to us in Richmond. When our daughter came out as transgender at age 13, we were devastated and riddled with fear based on what we found on Google. I remembered seeing this group listed on Richmondmom.com and emailed, not expecting Shannon McKay on the other end of the email to offer to speak with me the very next day. Throughout that phone call, it’s as if she was reading my mind, understanding all the questions and fears-Shannon was a Godsend and we will be forever thankful to have found her early along our path. While Side by Side held great meetings for our daughter, this group was specifically for us and other families and caregivers supporting youth. Four years later, we are flourishing and happy to serve other families finding themselves on similar journeys.” — Kate H., she/her


“HSZW was a lifeline when my son first told us he was transgender. A family friend told me about an “awesome woman” who ran a support group for parents just like me-confused, scared, and needing to know next steps and how to best support our kids. Being in a room with other folks who understood exactly what I was going through–because they had been there themselves–was exactly what I needed. Questions were answered, fears were allayed, and new friends were made. I am so thankful for all I have learned through this group, and to now be able to support others as one who has “been there.” — Michelle B., she/her


“I have been truly blessed by the support, guidance, and love shown me by the caregiver participants of He She Ze and We.  From the very beginning of my journey to understand my transgender son, I felt a sense of camaraderie and shared experiences with a supportive group of strangers.  The group facilitator, Shannon, was welcoming to me as a “guilt ridden, fear ladened, new parent” and her kind and caring demeanor unknowingly assured me that in time everything in my world would be alright.  I have been empowered by HSZW and can now offer my family experiences and stories of support to other parents and caregivers to help them better understand their transgender child.” — L.Frances B., she/her


“There is no way that I personally would have made it through the past 5 years of my life, if I hadn’t been told about He She Ze and We.  From the moment I found out what their purpose was and that there were other parents out there dealing with the same new discoveries, I no longer felt that I was alone on this journey.  Shannon is one of the most patient and understanding people that I have ever known, and our family will be forever grateful to her, and all of the families that have opened their hearts and shared their stories, no matter how painful it may be.  I am proud to be part of an organization that works with both parents and their children to keep the conversation going and always moving forward!” — Rosemarie O., she/her


Community Leaders

“A day does not pass that we do not receive a call for some type of referral at Diversity Richmond. The majority of such calls are from parents seeking help for their kids. Never do I hesitate to encourage parents to contact He She Ze and We. I have total confidence in the leadership of this phenomenal organization and I always tell callers how fortunate to have HSZW in our city. I cannot imagine walking this journey without the support of others who understand. I share with parents that I am so glad they called as they will now be cared for and supported and that the days of going it alone are over.” – Bill Harrison, Executive Director, Diversity Richmond


“The youth at Side by Side describe He She Ze & We as “that magical place upstairs that made my parents ok.” We have seen first hand how in one two-hour meeting parents and caregivers of transgender youth literally transform from apprehensive to supportive. He She Ze & We provides a valuable space for parents and family to share their experiences, vent their frustrations, grieve, and work through their issues so they can ultimately support their transgender children. He She Ze & We offers not only support for caregivers, but a path towards advocating for their children in schools and communities. He She Ze & We is vital part of keeping transgender children alive, but also moving our communities towards becoming more inclusive of all transgender people. Side by Side is a proud partner of their work.”Ted Lewis (they/them) Executive Director, Side by Side

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