Parents for Transgender Equality National Council

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Meet our Parents for Transgender Equality National Council members:

Wayne Maines
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."

Parents for Transgender Equality National Council; Wayne Maines

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 GuardianSlateThe 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.

Parents for Transgender Equality National Council; Amber Briggle Parents for Transgender Equality National Council

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.

Parents for Transgender Equality National Council; Hillary WhittingtonParents for Transgender Equality National Council; Jeff Whittington

Amy D'Arpino
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.

Parents for Transgender Equality National Council; Amy D'Arpino

JR Ford
JR Ford lives in Washington, D.C. with his two children, Ronnie, who is seven, and Ellie, who is five. JR has worked for 15 years as an expert in the cybersecurity field.

Since his youngest child transitioned to live as Ellie in early 2015, JR has worked to affirm her identity while raising awareness about and support for transgender youth. He first told his story in an Upworthy video and since then has written an op-ed in The Washington Post, told his 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, JR feels strongly that schools play a critical role in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of transgender students. He has 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.

Parents for Transgender Equality National Council; JR Ford; Vanessa Ford

photo: Jill Promoli

Jeanette Jennings
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.

Parents for Transgender Equality National Council; Jeanette Jennings

Michelle Honda-Phillips
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.

Parents for Transgender Equality National Council; Michelle Honda-Phillips

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.

Parents for Transgender Equality National Council; Peter and Sarah Tchoryk

Joanne Lee
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.

Parents for Transgender Equality National Council; Joanne Lee

Jodie Patterson
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.

Jodie Patterson; Parents for Transgender Equality National Council

Ofelia Barba
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.

Parents for Transgender Equality Council; Ofelia Barba; Zoey

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.

Parents for Transgender Equality National Council; HRC

Mimi and Joe Lemay
Mimi Lemay is an international advocate for transgender youth, and the proud parent of a 7-year-old transgender son, Jacob.  She began her advocacy shortly after the transition of her son from assigned female to affirmed male at the age of four, when an essay she wrote about the experience went viral (A Letter to my Son Jacob on His 5th Birthday,  The Lemays went on to participate in an NBC Nightly News segment entitled: Jacob's Journey: Life as a Transgender 5-Year-Old which was viewed by nearly 40 million people worldwide and launched an international discussion on gender identity in very young children.  They have since appeared in interviews on CBS News, MSNBC, NPR, Agence France Presse and the Boston Globe among other outlets.

The Lemay family, oldest to youngest, continues to advocate for transgender equality, and they fought for the successful passage of an equal access public accommodations law in Massachusetts, which passed into law in July 2016. They believe that the key to securing equality and safety for Jacob and other gender non-conforming children is by sharing their story and increasing understanding. To that end, Mimi is writing a memoir which weaves her own experiences growing up in, and ultimately leaving, her strict Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, and her adult life parenting a trans child.  It is due to be released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2018.  Mimi holds a BA in U.S.-Iranian Relations from Boston University and a Masters in Law & Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University. 
Mimi Lemay HRC Parents for Transgender Equality Council
Sarah and Brian Watson
Sarah gave up her career as a healthcare executive in 2014 in order to spend more time with their twins. Living near the nation's capital, she has always enjoyed being active in politics and loppying on Capitol Hill for various causes. Over the past year, Sarah has dedicated most of her time to advocating for and educating healthcare providers, school administrators, summer camp directors, and members of their community about the needs of transgender youth. Sarah is working with HRC to develop a guide for healthcare providers interested in implementing a multidisciplinary transgender practice within their institutions. She also serves on a Patient and Family Advisory Council at a local community hospital and volunteers in various capactieis in their community.
Brian is a retired Army veteran and is currently a physician at an inner-city hospital. He enjoys teaching and mentoring residents and fellows, and provides insight to caregivers on the importance of providing affirming care to the transgender and gender non-conforming population. He and Sarah are grateful to people like Sarah McBride who present themselves to the public as proud, happy, and productive transgender Americans, and who inspire young people like their son to come out and live their authentic lives. Brian and Sarah want to be heard and seen so that they can help other families affirm their children and to awaken the country to the importance of acceptance and love.
Jessica Girven
Jessica and her husband Nathan are an active duty military family who have been stationed in Germany for the last 8 years. Before staying home to focus on parenting, Jessica worked as a costume designer with work seen on stage and in print. Currently, she creates historically accurate Renaissance clothing and embroidery as a hobby. After her daughter Blue came out as transgender in mid-2016, Jessica became her fiercest advocate. Living as an American family abroad, subject to the many inconsistently enforced regulations impacting military families’ access to education and healthcare, presented unique challenges to her family.
First, when Blue’s affirming school environment was taken away by the superintendent of her Department of Defense (DOD) school, Jessica worked with other LGBTQ advocates to push the Office of the Secretary of Defense to establish a clear policy of acceptance and affirmation across all DOD schools worldwide. When the affirming policy was reversed after the 2016 election, she fought to ensure that the DOD schools on their base in Germany did not change their level of support for LGBTQ students such as Blue. Jessica has fought for appropriate transgender-related healthcare for Blue and all other transgender children stationed with their families overseas. In July 2017, Jessica and Blue traveled to DC and met with numerous Senators and Representatives to highlight the inconsistent access to transgender-related healthcare at military treatment facilities. Blue, herself, even met with many members of the House Armed Services Committee. Numerous interviews and articles with NBC news, the Washington Post, USA TODAY, Stars and Stripes, Military Times, and an op-ed for Teen Vogue reflect Jessica’s willingness to be a voice for her daughter, and for military families who face discrimination because of LGBTQ status. 

Rachel and Frank Gonzales
Frank and Rachel Gonzales have been fiercely advocating for the transgender community since their daughter, Libby, transitioned. Their efforts have been amplified significantly over the last year as the Texas legislature attempted to attack and discriminate against trans youth with several bills. They have testified several times at the Texas Capitol, spoken at rallies and protests, and held a media presence in the fight for equality for transgender Texans.

As the parents of a trangsender child, equality for LGBTQ youth is their passion. Rachel is the Education and Resource Coordinator for Equality Texas. She is delighted to be able to pair her passion with her background in cultural applied anthropology to advocate for the equal treatment of LGBTQ youth, providing support for families to be their own best advocates. Frank and Rachel are active members of DFW Trans Kids and Families.