The American Military Partner Association (AMPA)—the nation’s largest organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (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 like we did. I want to help fill in the pieces as much as possible so they can move forward on a much smoother path.”
Until recently, Girven and her family were stationed in Germany for the last eight years. After Blue came out as transgender in mid-2016, Girven became her fiercest advocate. Living as an American family abroad, subject to the many inconsistently enforced regulations affecting military families’ access to education and health care, presented unique challenges to her family. First, when Blue’s affirming school environment was taken away by the superintendent of her Department of Defense (DoD) school, 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. When the affirming policy was reversed after the 2016 election, she fought to ensure that the DoD schools on their base in Germany did not change their level of support for LGBT students. Girven has fought for appropriate transgender-related health care for Blue and all other transgender children stationed with their families overseas. In July 2017, Girven and Blue traveled to Washington, D.C., and met with numerous members of Congress to highlight the inconsistent access to transgender-related health care at military treatment facilities. Blue, herself, even 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 who face discrimination because they are LGBT.
Brewer has been a military spouse for more than 15 years. In 2015, her second child, Jennifer, came out as transgender. At that moment, Brewer knew she must be the best advocate she could be 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 Brewer was when the Trump-Pence administration rescinded federal guidance protecting transgender students from discrimination in February 2017, but it fueled her passion to help protect these children who longer had the backing of the federal government. With military families stationed across the country and around the world, Brewer is committed to advancing consistent policies to help these families deal with multiple moves.
The launch of the new program was announced tonight at the 5th Annual AMPA National Gala, presented by Comcast NBCUniversal and USAA—the nation’s largest LGBT military event of the year. Nearly 600 LGBT service members, military spouses, veterans, and allies gathered in Washington, D.C., for the evening that celebrates and honors modern military families for their service and sacrifice to the nation.
Find out more about MilPride.