Pentagon Proposes Rule Change on Medical Care for Transgender Troops & Military Dependents

Pentagon Proposes Rule Change on Medical Care for Transgender Troops & Military Dependents

Proposed rule change would allow for non-surgical “medically necessary and appropriate care for the treatment of gender dysphoria” Today, the American Military Partner Association (AMPA) praised the news that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has proposed a new rule change that will lift the “regulatory prohibition that categorically excludes all treatment of gender dysphoria,” thereby extending crucially needed medical care to transgender service members, veterans, and military family members covered under Tricare. The proposed change would not include surgical care, which according to the DoD remains prohibited by statute at 10 U.S.C. 1079(a)(11), but would cover care such as hormone replacement therapy. “All service members, veterans, and military dependents, no matter their gender identity, deserve access to the medical care they’ve earned serving our great nation,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “This proposed rule change from the Department of Defense would be an incredibly important step in the right direction to help ensure our transgender service members and family members finally receive the crucial medical care they need. As we await a decision from the Secretary of Defense on whether to lift the ban on transgender troops serving openly and honestly, this news is encouraging.” The news comes as the Secretary of Defense is set to announce his decision by this spring on whether to lift the ban on transgender service members by updating the outdated regulations which prevent them from serving openly and honestly. In March of last year, AMPA launched an unprecedented joint report with the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) highlighting the tremendous harm the outdated regulations inflict on military families. The report notes, “The outdated regulations serve no purpose and...
Victory! Lambda Legal Resolves Lawsuit on Behalf of AMPA for VA Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses

Victory! Lambda Legal Resolves Lawsuit on Behalf of AMPA for VA Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses

“Married veterans and their spouses, regardless of their sexual orientation, will now have the critical veterans’ benefits they need to take care of their families.” Today, Lambda Legal and the American Military Partner Association (AMPA) announced that they are concluding litigation against the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) following the VA’s changes to its policies on benefits ending discrimination against veterans and their same-sex spouses.  The new policies are consistent with the June 2015 US Supreme Court decision in Obergefell that struck down marriage discrimination. “We are very pleased that now, nationwide, gay and lesbian veterans who have served their country and risked the ultimate sacrifice for their nation — all while facing discrimination against them — will have access to deserved and long-awaited benefits,” said Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation at Lambda Legal. “Married veterans and their spouses, regardless of their sexual orientation or where they live, will now have the critical veterans’ benefits they need to take care of their families.” “The new VA policies pave the way for veterans and their same-sex spouses, no matter where they live, to access such important rights as survivor benefits, home loan guarantees, and burial together in national cemeteries,” said Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of AMPA. “We are happy to see more barriers to equality for LGBT servicemembers, veterans and their families fall.” In August 2014, Lambda Legal filed a petition on AMPA’s behalf in the Federal Circuit Court arguing that the deprivation of veterans’ benefits to same-sex spouses based on states’ non-recognition of their marriages is unconstitutional. Recently, the VA issued internal guidance to its staff and updated its website to reflect the change...
Secretary of Defense Will Make Final Decision On Transgender Military Ban By Spring

Secretary of Defense Will Make Final Decision On Transgender Military Ban By Spring

According to a report by the Washington Blade, the Secretary of Defense is expected to announce his decision on whether to lift the ban on transgender service members by this spring. A Pentagon spokesperson told the Blade: “The transgender working group appointed by the secretary of defense will conclude its deliberations by the end of January and present its findings and recommendations directly to the secretary soon thereafter. The secretary will take whatever time he needs to analyze, evaluate, and discuss the Working Group’s findings with his immediate staff and the senior leadership of the department. We do, however, anticipate a final decision from the secretary sometime in the spring.” “Our transgender service members and their families are eagerly waiting for a decision from the Secretary of Defense,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “For far too long, transgender service members have been forced to serve in silence. It is our urgent hope that Secretary Carter will make the right decision, finally lift the outdated ban, and allow our transgender troops to serve authentically.” In July of last year, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter made history with an announcementthat the Department of Defense would finally update the outdated regulations that prevent open service by transgender service members and would take six months to assess the impact of the change and work out the details. The working group started with the presumption “transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified.” In March of 2015, AMPA launched an unprecedented joint report with the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) highlighting the tremendous harm the outdated regulations inflict...
The Repeal of DADT — 5th Year Anniversary

The Repeal of DADT — 5th Year Anniversary

“Well, this is a sign.  I should finally join.” That was the discussion in our household on December 22, 2010. My husband (then boyfriend), Cort, and I had had many long discussions about his desire to join the military leading up to that victorious day when President Obama signed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 (DADT) into law.  We were two years into our relationship, but the thought of him enlisting still selfishly lead my own thoughts towards, ‘Well what about us?’ Cort had always dreamed about joining the military, but being openly gay and in a relationship made me worry about how military gay went together.  I remember the restless nights after our long talks about making it work that were followed by endless internet searches with phrases like “gay military”, “non-married military”, and of course “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” “But I’m only joining if you say yes,” he told me over and over again. The repeal of DADT was unchartered territory with so many unanswered questions and only hypothetical answers or wishful resolutions.  That is when my Internet searches led me to find The American Military Partners Association (AMPA) – a secure group online for people just like me.  AMPA members helped give me hope that it would be okay and though it would be tough it was definitely doable.  So I jumped on board, and Cort enlisted in the United States Navy. Our military life together so far has brought many new friendships and opportunities for personal growth, but it’s also definitely brought challenges and difficult ups and downs.  In the past four years...
Wow, what a year! 2015 in Review

Wow, what a year! 2015 in Review

Dear AMPA member, Wow, what a year! It’s crazy to think how far we’ve come in just 12 months. But here we are getting ready to celebrate a new year, and I’m so proud of what our all volunteer team at AMPA has accomplished together over the last year. It’s truly almost unbelievable when you look back. Whether it was fighting to make sure our LGBT veterans and their families receive the benefits they’ve earned; filing a marriage equality brief with the Supreme Court of the United States and other courts on behalf of our modern military spouses (which led to a historic victory of nationwide marriage equality); holding state national guards accountable in recognizing same-sex military spouses; or pushing for policy changes to allow our transgender troops to serve openly and honestly; AMPA was there at the frontlines advocating on behalf of our LGBT military spouses and their families. But it didn’t end there. While the repeal of DADT allowed gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members to finally serve openly, it did not implement a non-discrimination policy ensuring they were not unfairly discriminated against. AMPA led the charge for this to change, and we finally claimed victory this year when the Pentagon added sexual orientation as a protected class to the military equal opportunity program. Seeing first hand the harm that the military’s transgender ban continues to inflict on transgender service members and their families, AMPA released an unprecedented new report in partnership with the Transgender American Veterans Association. This first of its kind report focused on the impact the outdated transgender military regulations have on the entire family and included personal stories from transgender service members and their families. And we hopefully will finally see...
Transgender Day of Remembrance 2015

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2015

Every November…. Every November 20th, we come together to recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). This is held annually each year to remember those individuals who were tragically killed as a result of transphobia. I can’t help but find myself somber and pensive each November. Harsh realities of our society continue to leave their marks. They are hard to ignore. As of this writing, the number of reported transgender related deaths in 2015 is dramatically on the rise. It’s heartbreaking and unacceptable. As a transgender veteran, this news is sobering and sickening. While I sit here and contemplate, I am reminded that despite any progress made, the transgender community still faces discrimination and hatred for simply living authentically. Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) makes us stop and remember those whose lives were taken tragically because of hatred and fear. The day forces us to acknowledge that even in 2015, not all human beings are treated with the same dignity and respect they deserve. Underneath it all, we are just people. We are people with families, dreams, and goals.  TDOR is a reminder that we have to continue to fight. Even if we are tired, even if we feel like we can’t go on. Each day, we must dig deep to survive and thrive despite ignorance and fear that persists. We cannot forget those who are no longer here. We can’t forget those whose lives were taken from us. This year, please consider participating in a local Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) vigil. Vigils are held in a number of locations including LGBT community centers, hospitals, churches and various places...