Parents for Transgender Equality National Council
Meet our Parents for Transgender Equality National Council members:
Wayne Maines is first and foremost the proud father of identical twins, one boy, Jonas Maines, and one girl, Nicole Maines. Wayne and his amazing wife Kelly have worked extremely hard to raise their children in an environment that was not ready for a new generation of transgender children.
His family's story has been recently brought to life on a national scale in the bestselling book Becoming Nicole - The Transformation of An Amerian Family, written by Pulitzer Prize author Amy Ellis Nutt. His family has been featured on Good Morning America, Nightline, People magazine and The Washington Post, as well as numerous other news outlets. Wayne frequently writes for The Huffington Post and TIME magazine to educate others about gender identity, gender expression and equality.
His entire career has focused on motivating people to be safe and to promote change in corporate America and higher education. His goal has been to improve quality of life for everyone. He is now on a new mission - a mission that provides a safe environment for transgender children to grow, to learn and to become productive members of out society."
Amber and Adam Briggle
Amber Briggle is an entrepreneur, political junkie, committed volunteer and the proud mama bear of two amazing children, MG and Lulu. She has spoken publicly and passionately about the rights of the LGBTQ community, including giving a TEDx talk about her journey to accepting MG as transgender and the challenges and triumphs they now face as a family. Amber has spoken at fundraisers and press conferences, and she hosted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for dinner in her home so that he could meet her transgender child face-to-face. She currently serves on the board of the League of Women Voters of Texas and volunteers in numerous ways in her adopted hometown of Denton, Texas.
Amber’s husband Adam is also an advocate for this important issue. He is a professor of philosophy at the University of North Texas and has been published in The Guardian, Slate, The New York Times, the Dallas Morning News and Salon, and is the author of several books on philosophy and technology. Amber can be found on Twitter at @MrsBriggle and Adam is at @AdamBriggle.
Hillary and Jeff Whittington
Hillary Whittington is a UCSD graduate, Southern California native and mother of two children, Ryland, who is eight, and Brynley, who is four. Hillary has seen her conservative Christian upbringing challenged with the discovery that her eldest child is transgender. She currently co-owns a residential real estate brokerage firm with her husband and recently co-authored a book published by HarperCollins titled Raising Ryland, shifting to her new focus as a transgender ally and advocate.
Jeff Whittington is a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo graduate who spent seven years working as a firefighter/paramedic for the City of San Diego before transitioning to the managing broker and co-owner of a Southern California real estate company. Also raised in a hard-working conservative family, he now works alongside his wife to help provide education regarding transgender issues.
Debi Jackson had a 20-year career in marketing for Fortune 500 companies, international nonprofits and professional sports teams. Because of her transgender daughter, Debi has become a political activist for LGBTQ rights and acceptance and now uses her communications skills as she travels the country speaking about transgender youth. She is a PFLAG chapter president and works with several other LGBTQ organizations.
Debi also operates a website for parents of transgender and gender non-conforming children, trans-parenting.com, and she recently started a business offering online competency training on trans issues, GenderInc. She was awarded the 2016 National Education Association GLBT Caucus Role Model Award for her contributions to education and the LGBGQ+ community. She shares her story to prove that conservative Southern families can be supportive of LGBTQ issues.
Amy has worked in the social work, foster care and behavioral health fields for over 18 years. She participates on community and statewide committees that have priorities to eliminate physical and mental health disparities for undeserved populations. She was the chair of the LGBTQ Integrated Health Coalition of Southern Arizona for two years. In addition, Amy is a parent of a transgender teen.
She facilitated a support group for families of transgender and gender creative children for three years. In May 2015, Amy received the Pioneer in Service Award at the Fourth annual Let's Get Better Together Conference, held in Tucson, Arizona, for her work in the community helping families of gender diverse youth. Topics she has presented on at multiple conferences include addressing suicide risk and protective factors for LGBTQ youth, and how to be supportive of transgender and gender diverse children. Amy is a strong advocate for change and for anyone in need.
JR and Vanessa Ford
JR and Vanessa Ford live in Washington, D.C. with their two children, Ronnie, who is seven, and Ellie, who is five. JR has worked for 15 years as an expert in the cybersecurity field. Vanessa spent 14 years teaching in public schools in the District and now is the Director of Training and Curriculum for an education nonprofit.
Since their youngest child transitioned to live as Ellie in early 2015, JR and Vanessa have worked to affirm her identity while raising awareness about and support for transgender youth. They first told their story in an Upworthy video and since then have written an op-ed in The Washington Post, told their story through the "Listen to Your Mother" platform and partnered with The National Center for Transgender Equality to create a "Trans 101" video. JR is part of HRC's Dads for Transgender Equality campaign and has written about his experience as a father to a transgender daughter for HRC and National Center for Transgender Equality. In addition to educating through these ways, the Fords feel strongly that schools play a critical role in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of transgender students. They have worked with pre-service teachers and students at a number of universities, as well as lead school-based trainings at local schools in the D.C.-area.
photo: Jill Promoli
Marsha is an author, national speaker, educator and advocate for the LGBTQ community. She serves on the National Board of Directors for PFLAG. In this role, she hopes to change school culture to be more accepting of all students, as well as bring greater resources to the Asian Pacific Islander and transgender communities. Marsha is co-founder and current President of PFLAG San Gabriel Valley Asian Pacific Islander. She is author of Two Spirits, One Heart, a memoir that chronicles her journey from fear, shame and sadness to unconditional love and acceptance as she navigated the transition of her son from female to male. Marsha has received honors from Congresswoman Judy Chu as a Community Activist and was named Trailblazer Parent for 2015 by Logo TV. She also spoke at HRC Foundation’s Time to THRIVE Conference in 2016, which focuses on promoting safety, inclusion and well-being of LGBTQ youth.
Jeanette is a proud mom of four- Arial, 20, Sander and Griffen, 18, and a 15-year-old transgender daughter Jazz. Jazz was diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria at age three and transitioned at five. Since 2006, Jeanette and her family have shared their story through numerous T.V. appearances on news programs, documentaries and talk shows in addition to many other media outlets. Jeanette spreads the message of unconditional love, tolerance and acceptance by speaking at events all over the U.S.
She is the President of the TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation, which helps raise funds to assist trans youth. TKPRF also sponsors a yearly pool party for trans youth and their families at the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference. She and her husband Greg are the recipients of Equality CA's Ally Award and the Ackerman Institute's Family Award, amongst others for their commitment to help making the world a better place for trans youth. Her family is the subject of the docu-series, "I am Jazz”, which, along with “I am Cait,” won a GLAAD Award for “Outstanding Reality Program’ in 2016”. Jeanette is currently busy filming season 3 of, “I am Jazz” which will air in 2017.
DeShanna Neal is from Delaware and a mom to four children. Her oldest, Trinity, socially transitioned when she was four in 2007 and is now 13 years of age. She also has three younger sons. DeShanna is a homeschooler, wife and author. Recently, she fought and won to have her daughter's Lupron covered by Medicaid in her state, a first in Delaware’s history. She has written articles for The Advocate and New York Times, and her daughter has been featured in Essence magazine. Her goal is to continue advocating for families of transgender children and transgender people of color.
Michelle Honda-Phillips is the mother of a 10-year-old transgender daughter, and eight- and 11-year-old cisgender sons. Michelle focuses much of her time advocating for transgender and gender non-conforming youth ultimately promoting awareness, establishing resources and supporting the community with unconditional love and acceptance to those who are beginning to find their voice and living authentically. She has spoken at events such as The Association of LGBT Journalists Media Summit, the Bay Area Municipal Elections Committee (BAYMEC) Annual Gala, Las Vegas Genderfest, and nationwide family acceptance workshops for the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA). Her family's journey has also been featured on the NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, the Human Rights Campaign, and a feature article in Elle France magazine.
Peter and Sarah Tchoryk
Peter Tchoryk and his wife, Sarah, live in Dexter, Michigan near Ann Arbor. They have two daughters, a son, who happens to be transgender, and three grandkids. Sarah is a fifth grade teacher with a bachelor’s in elementary education from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and a master’s from Wayne State University. She has taught at many different grade levels and has a passion for developing her students’ writing voice. Peter is the CEO of Michigan Aerospace Corporation and Springmatter. He is an electrical engineer with a bachelor’s from Kettering University in Flint, Mich., and master’s from the University of Michigan. Peter has a passion for entrepreneurship and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) education. He is on the Board of Directors of several companies and also on the Physics Advisory Board at Kettering University.
Like many parents of transgender kids, Peter and Sarah consider themselves “sleeping giants” awakened to the needs of the LGBTQ community through their son. They are active in telling their family’s story in the media, workshops and at public forums in an effort to increase understanding. They and their entire family are committed to fighting for all those seeking equality, civil rights and human rights.
Joanne Lee is the mother of two children. Her kids were assigned female at birth, but came out as transgender males in 2014. At first Joanne did not accept her transgender sons because of her Asian culture and traditional Christian upbringing. In 2015, however, one of Joanne’s sons took his own life due to depression.
Her son's death changed Joanne’s whole life, and she is now an advocate for family acceptance with hopes of saving lives of other transgender people dealing with depression. She also advocates for better treatment of LGBTQ youth, transgender healthcare, mental health and an overall better future for children.
A registered nurse, Joanne serves on the board of PFLAG’s Madison chapter and travels across the country speaking out in support of LGBTQ rights and Asian family acceptance to continue her son's legacy.
Jodie is a mother of five and an active LGBTQI ally who has been recognized for my activism by Hillary Clinton, GLAAD, Family Circle magazine, Cosmopolitan magazine, Yahoo!, Refinery29 and numerous other websites. She is a regular participant at transgender and LGBTQI conferences, including the Trans Health, Gender East, and Transcending Boundaries conferences. She also sits on the Advisory Board of the Ackerman Institute’s Gender & Family Project, where she advises on strategic partnerships and overall goals for the organization. Her family also participates in the Institute’s monthly trans-family group talks and play-groups.
Jodie also play an active role on the board of Community of Unity, a not-for-profit that provides Social Emotional Learning programs for underserved kids in New York City public schools. With her help, over the past 15 years the organization has successfully graduated at-risk teens from some of New York’s most poorly performing high schools and has a 95 percent success rate with students. In everything she does, Jodie is committed to bringing often underrepresented voices and perspectives into the mainstream.
Ofelia is a single mother to three children - Letty, Javie and Zoey, her 15-year-old transgender daughter. Since Zoey has come out as transgender, Ofelia has become her biggest supporter and a staunch advocate for her rights. In November 2011, Ofelia and the Southern California ACLU fought back against intimidation tactics and filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights against Zoey's school district for discrimination. They won their complaint and policies and protections were put in place to protect and fairly treat all transgender and gender non-conforming youth in the school district.
Ofelia has become an advocate for not only her daughter's rights, but for other youth and parents with the hope of empowering one another and helping to change hearts and minds. Ofelia has been involved with many panel discussions, focus groups and PSAs, and recently participated in a documentary called "Raising Zoey," in which their family shares their lived experiences raising a transgender child. Ofelia and her family share their story so other parents can see that with love, acceptance and compassion, the possibilities are endless for our youth.
Ea McMillan Porter and Dr. Louis Porter II
Ea McMillan Porter and Dr. Louis Porter II are the parents of student activist Zeam. Ea serves as the community liaison at the University of St. Thomas for the College of Education, Leadership and Counseling. She is an executive board member of University Advocates for Women and Equity and an executive board member of the Association of Black Women in Higher Education. She has received the 2016 Transgender Law Center’s Family & Youth Award recipient.
Dr. Louis Porter serves as the Executive Director, Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage/Writer/ Educator. He is a fellow and board member, Growth & Change, a progressive think tank based in St. Paul. He also an executive board member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Minneapolis-St. Paul Graduate Chapter. Dr. Porter is a teaching artist and board member, COMPAS. He is the recipient of the 2016 Transgender Law Center’s Family & Youth Award.