A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Ashley Nurkin continues her family’s tradition of keeping deep roots in the southern United States. Married to “an amazing husband, Matt,” she was formerly a player in the media and real estate arenas, stepping away after the birth of her younger daughter. Ashley is the proud mom of two daughters, an 11-year-old and a 9-year-old.
From an early age, Ashley noticed that her younger child, born male, behaved and acted in a way that was gender nonconforming. When the time came for first grade, her youngest officially came out.
“[When] she was seven years old, she verbalized to us that she was a girl,” Ashley said. “I would be lying if I said the beginning of our journey was easy. We were scared for her and fearful of how the world around her would accept her. We were so lucky in that our family, our friends, and our community rallied around her and supported her through her transition.”
Finding this welcome support, Ashley decided that she needed to be involved in the LGBTQ community in order to better advocate for her daughter.
“I immediately got involved with our local PFLAG (Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) Chapter. PFLAG was the only place I could go and connect with other parents on the same journey as mine.”
Eventually, Ashley became the VP of her local PFLAG chapter, and for the last year has been the President of the Charlotte chapter. Additionally, in 2015, Ashley co-founded Transparents of PFLAG Charlotte, which began with two families and has now grown to over 50 families.
“I realized that parents raising transgender children have a unique set of challenges and needed a community where they could talk with other parents about the best way to handle certain situations,” she explained.
While Ashley and her family are beyond supportive and loving of the LGBTQ community, North Carolina is still one of 32 states with no explicit statewide protections for LGBTQ people in housing, employment, or public accommodations.
“Like any other mother, I want my children to be safe and self-confident, and to have the opportunity to live to their full potential.”
What’s more, the state made global headlines in 2016 when it passed the shamefully discriminatory law HB2, which stripped any existing local protections away from LGBTQ people and effectively prohibited transgender people from using public restrooms.. After huge public outcry and economic losses of close to $1 billion, the law was replaced by HB 142, a similarly discriminatory law that prohibits municipalities and the state legislature from examining or enacting LGBTQ-inclusive protections until 2020.
To Ashley and her family, nondiscrimination is an issue that isn’t up for debate – it’s a protection that all people should be ensured. To them, the LGBTQ community contributes significantly at all levels of our society, despite countless practical challenges and roadblocks placed in their path. For this reason, Ashley, her husband, and her entire family have continued to remain vocal and involved advocates.
“Our family has been incredibly lucky to have the support of our extended family, neighbors, and friends, but many members of the LGBTQ community are not in the same situation. As a result, we remain committed to advocating for the protection of our child and the LGBTQ community as a whole.”
“Like any other mother, I want my children to be safe and self-confident, and to have the opportunity to live to their full potential,” Ashley said. “We teach our children that being unique and authentic is something to be proud of, and should never be a reason for shame.”
This story was produced in collaboration with the National Center for Transgender Equality. To learn more, visit www.transequality.org