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Leading GLBT Organizations Support Transgender Veterans March to the Wall

For Immediate Release: February 17, 2004
From: The Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA)
Media Contact: Tina Rice
Contact Email: media@transveteran.org
Contact Phone: 618.867.3028
Website: http://www.transveteran.org

As the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) prepares for a gathering of transgender veterans and supporters at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, several national organizations have signaled their support. The march will be held on May 1, 2004 to honor all veterans, not just the many transgender people who served our nation with pride and honor.

Monica Helms, President of TAVA, expressed her gratitude for the letters of support received from American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER National as well as Houston and Washington, DC chapters), the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Gender Education and Advocacy (GEA), the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC), and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN).

“I am humbled by the overwhelming support we have received from all these organizations and many others across the country,” said Helms. “I feel that with this much encouragement and support for our veterans, the healing process will start long before we even get to the Wall. These organizations have given us the strength to make this journey possible. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”

The letters of support may be viewed at the TAVA website . The website also has a link to march details. Those planning on attending are asked to register via the march website to help with transportation and other logistics planning.

This gathering, which will include visits to other war memorials and the first-ever laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by transgender veterans, will help to provide healing and recognition to those who have been and continue to be discriminated against due to their transgender status.

“With the recognition of our GLBT supportive groups, the anticipation of this March To The Wall is rowing every day,” said Angela Brightfeather, Chair of the TAVA Special Projects Committee. “The recognition of all these groups is gratefully accepted and acknowledged on behalf of all the Transgender American Veterans who will be marching and those who cannot make the march.

Everyone knows that Transgender Veterans exist, but no one has ever really acknowledged them before. The support and acceptance of the entire GLBT community, as shown in these letters, is a matter of pride and unity that brings us all much closer together in our fight for respect and equality.”

Transgender veterans and service members from around the country are invited to join TAVA in remembering, honoring, and healing.

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Founded in 2003, the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) addresses the growing concerns of fair and equal treatment of transgender veterans and active duty service members. As an advocacy and educational organization, TAVA seeks to help the Veterans Administration, Department of Defense, and Congress to better understand and serve the needs of gender-different individuals who proudly serve in the military.

Denny Meyer

Sgt. First Class Denny Meyer, the son of WWII Holocaust refugees, was reared bilingually in the mid 1940s postwar immigrant refugee community on New York City ‘s Upper West Side . His mother, he notes with pride, arrived at Ellis Island as an illegal alien fleeing Nazi persecution. She taught him that, “there is nothing more precious than American Freedom.”

He has been an activist for over 50 years, starting with his first march with the NAACP at the age of 13 in 1960, working for civil rights, women’s rights, and gay rights and transgender rights for our military service members and veterans.

In 1968 he volunteered, “To pay my country back for my family’s freedom.” He served for ten years in two services; in the Navy aboard an aircraft carrier, in a Huey helicopter squadron HQ, at NATO US headquarters; and in specialized Army Reserve units; and served as an inter-agency liaison and negotiator.

Sgt. Denny has spoken at universities and colleges including Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Hofstra, and Lehman (CUNY) among other venues; combining history, humor, pathos, and anger to tell his story.

In addition to serving as TAVA’s Media Director, he is the national Public Affairs and Veterans Affairs officer of AVER and edits GayMilitarySignal.com.

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