CommunityPam's House Blend

The Transgender American Veterans Association

[Autumn Sandeen]

The GLBTQI community is pretty diverse, isn’t it?

Transgender veterans exist; the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) was formed in 2003 with transgender veterans in mind.

Why TAVA? TAVA was formed to address the growing concerns of fair and equal treatment of transgender veterans and active duty service members. As the population of gender-different people increases, then so does the population of veterans and active duty service members who identify as such. TAVA serves as an educational organization that will help the Veterans Administration and the Department of Defense to better understand the individuals they encounter who identify as being gender-different. As veterans, transgender people have served proudly — and will continue to do so. TAVA exists to help where the organization can help.

In efforts to expand organization, TAVA has begun forming Chapters in various states across the country. This not only gives a chance for transgender veterans to meet and discuss the issues facing each other when dealing with the local VA facilities, but a chance for TAVA to help in encouraging transgender veterans to take up leadership roles in their city or state.

Twenty-three people met in Arkansas tonight (October 21, 2006) in a multi-state TAVA organizational effort. Attendees represented five states: Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, Texas, and Tennessee.

Monica Helms, president of the Transgender American Veterans Association, said of the meeting “I’m absolutely thrilled to have attended the first ever TAVA regional meeting for chapters. The people are just fabulous. If other TAVA chapters have members like this, then we’re going to have a very strong organization.”

Ann Marie Knittel, the chapters director, added “Getting these chapters together — it’s the members — it’s the people. They’re the ones who make TAVA thrive.”

The GLBTQI community is pretty darn diverse. I’m glad to be here, and part of the diverse mix of really interesting, wonderful people.

Autumn Sandeen is the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) secretary, a Transgender Advocacy And Services Center (TASC) of San Diego Planning Group Member, and is a contributing author for the Ex-Gay Watch.

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Autumn Sandeen

Autumn Sandeen