When I was asked to blog about Tom Chai Sosnik’s story about coming out as a transgender, the story resonated greatly with me. I know someone close to me that is going through this transition currently. What stood out to me immediately about Tom’s story was the unity that was apparent between Tom, his family and his community. For the first time, in a long time, this story was one of the good ones–the feel goods that restore your faith in humanity. It is not often that we see society stand so easily united in support of someone, or something, that feels “different” or “controversial.”

Throughout Tom’s story he shares the challenges of determining what drove his unhappiness and uncertainty with himself, as well as, chronicles the journey he took to accepting himself before braving the challenge of coming out to others. Despite the few encounters with bullying and the relocation of his family, to a place that was more liberal and accepting of his transition, Tom’s family and community accepted him with open arms.  In fact, both the faculty and parents of students at the school worked together to plan and execute Tom’s coming out story and naming ceremony. On March 13, 2015 before faculty, students and parents of his peers, Tom concluded his speech “now I finally stand before you in my true and authentic gender identity as Tom. If you support me, I’ll feel like the luckiest boy in the world.” A powerful moment not only for Tom, but for history.

Tom Sosnik is a hero. He has paved the way for those who are sure to come after him. We need more Tom Sosnik’s in the world–individuals who encourage others to be brave enough to step forward and tell the world just who they really are. It is our responsibility to prevent future tragedies like that of Leelah Alcorn and support the remaining 50% of transgender teens who seriously contemplate suicide. The more accepting we are of those around us in the present, the better chance we have to reestablish the “standard” for our future.

I’d like to conclude with a powerful quote from Tom: “I think that it’s the parents’ job to leave an open door for their kids, like my parents did for me, because you never know,” Tom said. “Being trans doesn’t make you unclean; it doesn’t make you weird, or different. People that are trans are just doing what we all should be doing: They’re embracing who they really are.”

Read Tom’s Story Here: http://forward.com/articles/217453/can-jewish-transgender-teens-successful-coming-out/