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TAVA Press Release on ENDA

For Immediate Release: October 13, 2007

Press Release: The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)
From: Monica F. Helms, President and Co-Founder of The Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA)
Email Contact: president@transveteran.org
TAVA Website: http://www.transveteran.org

There has never been a moment in the five-year history of this organization where we had to step forward and put our very existence on the line. The events of the last three weeks have changed all of that.

As a 501 (c)3 organization that specifically focuses on veterans’ issues, we are not allowed to be “political.” Some people may say that supporting a fully-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act and opposing any bill that excludes transgender people maybe consider “political.” The Board of TAVA disagrees. We see this as a matter of survival for the transgender community and TAVA will do what we can to fight for that survival.

History has shown us that since this country has begun, transgender people have fought in every war this country had. Some crossed gender lines so they could fight for this country, and others cross gender lines after they fought in various wars. No matter what, they were proud of their service our nation.

“Honor, duty and country.” Everyone who has served America proudly understands these words all too well. However, we are now witnessing people who have no honor, show only the duty to serve themselves and envision a country where their needs are met over everyone else’s. As veterans, this saddens us greatly.

There are estimated to be three million Americans who happen to be transgender people, with 300,000 of them being veterans. Many of them are without jobs and are living on welfare. Some, who retired from the military are surviving on their retirement check that comes once a month, but that hardly pays for much in this day and age.

The Transgender American Veterans Association implores all who read this that on Monday, October 15 to start calling the Democratic Party members of the House Education and Labor Committee. You can find them at: http://edlabor.house.gov/about/members.shtml. Ask them to send only a fully-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (HR-2015) to the House floor for a vote in Thursday instead of the flawed version, HR-3685. That version will not only leave out Transgender Americans, but many others who do not confirm to society’s gender norms, regardless of their sexual orientation.

We especially would like to see all veterans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, contact the House Education and Labor Committee to help save those veterans who may have saved your life in the heat of combat. We put our lives on the line to give time to this country. Now, we ask you to put time on the line to save our lives. TAVA thanks you.

Founded in 2003, the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) is a 501 (c) 3 organization that acts proactively with other concerned civil rights and human rights organizations to ensure that transgender veterans will receive appropriate care for their medical conditions in accordance with the Veterans Health Administration’s Customer Service Standards promise to “treat you with courtesy and dignity . . . as the first class citizen that you are.” Further, TAVA will help in educating the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) on issues regarding fair and equal treatment of transgender individuals. Also, TAVA will help the general transgender community when deemed appropriate and within the IRS guidelines.

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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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