by Stephen Peters
Earlier this month the American Military Partner Association — the nation’s largest organization of LGBT military spouses, families, and allies — announced the launch of a new program focused on education, advocacy, and support for military families with LGBT children. The new program, called MilPride, will be led by Jessica Girven and Amanda Brewer — military mothers of transgender youth who have had to face challenges and discrimination in navigating the military system.
“We are so excited to launch this new program focused on supporting our nation’s military families with LGBT youth,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “Military families already have to face extraordinary sacrifices and challenges in their service to our country, and those families with LGBT children face even greater barriers due to a lack of support and resources. Both Amanda’s and Jessica’s families have had to face heartbreaking discrimination while being stationed in places that weren’t as welcoming to LGBT military kids as they should be, and they know firsthand why this program is so important. We are so grateful for their vision, passion, and leadership, and we’re excited to have them on the AMPA team.”
“After my daughter, Blue, came out as transgender, we felt very alone on this path,” said Jessica Girven, a military spouse whose husband serves in the U.S. Air Force. “It was meeting other kids and military families like ours that empowered me to advocate for Blue and these families. We never want another family or LGBTQ kid to feel alone again.”
“As a military family whose daughter came out before many transition-related services were covered by Tricare, our family struggled to find resources and support,” said Amanda Brewer, whose husband serves in the U.S. Army. “I don’t want other military families to struggle as we did. I want to help fill in the pieces so they can move forward on a much smoother path.”
Until recently, Girven and her family were stationed in Germany for eight years. After her daughter came out in mid-2016, Girven became her fiercest advocate. Living as an American family abroad, subject to the many inconsistently enforced regulations impacting military families’ access to education and healthcare, presented unique challenges to her family.
When the superintendent of Blue’s Department of Defense school turned aside the affirming school environment, Girven worked with AMPA and other advocates to push the Office of the Secretary of Defense to establish a clear policy of acceptance and affirmation across all DOD schools worldwide. She also fought for the current level of support for LGBT students at the DOD schools on their base.
Girven has fought for appropriate transgender-related healthcare for Blue and all other transgender children stationed with their families overseas. In July 2017, Girven and Blue traveled to DC and met with numerous members of Congress to highlight the inconsistent access to transgender-related health care at military treatment facilities. Blue, herself, met with many members of the House Armed Services Committee. Numerous media stories reflect Girven’s willingness to be a voice for her daughter, and for military families facing LGBT discrimination.
Brewer has been a military spouse for over 15 years. In 2015, Amanda’s second child Jennifer came out as transgender. At that moment, Amanda knew she must be the best advocate she could for her child. She started by speaking out at local school board meetings in favor of inclusion for all children. One of the hardest times for Amanda was when the Trump-Pence administration rescinded federal guidance protecting transgender students from discrimination in February 2017, but it fueled her passion for helping protect these children who no longer had the backing of the federal government. With military families stationed across the country and around the world, Amanda’s commitment is advancing consistent policies that help these families deal with multiple moves.
Find out more about MilPride at www.MilitaryPartners.org/MilPride