For Mother’s Day this year, HRC is recognizing a group of spectacular moms across the nation who are working to achieve LGBTQ equality. While not all of them identify as LGBTQ, they are all on the forefront in our fight for equal rights.
Several of these parents are fierce mama bears and vocal members of HRC’s Parents for Transgender Equality Council. Others are working hard at the state and national level to advocate for pro-equality legislation. Some are on the big and small screen speaking out about their personal experiences.
Michelle: Michelle Honda Phillips is just your average mom in Northern California. She is the mother of three children, including her transgender daughter, Malisa. “Malisa is your typical pre-adolescent girl,” Michelle said in a video for HRC. “She loves to craft and sing.” Michelle and her father, Congressman Mike Honda, have both been open about their undivided support for Malisa and equality for the transgender community.
Evan: Evan Rachel Wood, who is an openly bisexual actress and the mother of a young son, spoke candidly about the struggles of her sexuality at HRC’s North Carolina Gala. Evan not only spoke about the importance of bisexual people being seen and heard, but also credited her “beautiful” son for getting her through extremely tough times.
DeShanna: 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 old. She also has three younger sons. DeShanna is a homeschooler, wife and author. Recently, she fought and won to have her daughter’s Lupron, a puberty blocker, 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.
Betty: Twenty years ago, Betty DeGeneres made headlines as the first non-LGBTQ spokesperson for HRC’s National Coming Out Day. She continues to speak at HRC events across the country and has worked in close partnership with PFLAG and other LGBTQ organizations.“For too long, gay Americans have suffered discrimination,” she said. “As long as our sons and daughters are excluded from the basic protection of law, we must share that burden as a family.”
Ofelia: Ofelia, a mother of three, lives in Los Angeles with her three children, including her transgender daughter, Zoey. “It doesn’t make sense how people can define you without knowing you. It just doesn’t,” Ofelia said in a new HRC video. “If you look at Zoey and you see her, she’s a girl.” Ofelia has not only supported Zoey in her own home, but has lobbied on behalf of the transgender community in Sacramento, working for AB 1266, the School Success and Opportunity Act, and the TRUTH Project.
Judy: Judy Shepard is the mother of Matthew Shepard, who was attacked in a brutal hate crime in Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998. Matthew, who was just 21-years-old, died five days after the attack. Judy and her husband, Dennis, founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation after their son was murdered — one of countless LGBTQ people who have been victims of hate. Judy has served on the HRC Board of Directors since 2001 and has appeared at HRC Foundation’s Time to THRIVE conference.
Ileana: Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican, has long been an outspoken advocate on Capitol Hill for LGBTQ equality, from her early support for lifting the ban against openly-LGBTQ Americans serving in the military, to advocating for anti-discrimination and anti-bullying measures. For her, it’s personal. Ros-Lehtinen has a transgender son, Rodrigo. While Ros-Lehtinen is retiring, we know that her advocacy will continue beyond the halls of Congress.
Marsha: Marsha Aizumi is an author, speaker, educator and advocate for the LGBTQ community, a cause she embraced in response to the harassment and bullying her son experienced throughout high school. Her advocacy focuses on creating safe schools, and bringing greater visibility and support to the Asian Pacific Islander (API) LGBTQ community and the transgender community. Aizumi’s API and transgender work has taken her around the United States and overseas to China as she shares how she grew from shame, grief and fear to unconditional love and acceptance for her son, Aiden. She and Aiden have written a book, Two Spirits, One Heart, which was published in 2013 by Magnus Books.
Tina: Tina White recently moved to the Tar Heel State and stepped away from work to engage in social activism. As she explained it, she wants to pay it forward to the LGBTQ community that so welcomed her and her family, including her children. She feels that it is her calling to live openly and to speak up about transgender rights. Tina’s five children and five grandchildren are the cornerstone of her life.
Debi: Debi Jackson’s daughter Avery was four years old when she proclaimed her true gender identity to her mother. Debi, who is Southern Baptist, admitted that at first she didn’t quite know how to process the information, but as soon as Avery was able to live life freely and openly as her authentic self, Debi and her family saw an immediate change for the better. Recently, Avery made history as the first transgender person to appear on the cover of National Geographic magazine.
Jodie: A mother of five, Jodie noticed from an early age that her third child, Penelope, would study and imitate the actions of his father and brothers. Penelope was certain of his true identity as early as he was able to express it. Jodie swiftly made the important decision to empower and support her child unconditionally.