In honor of Transgender Day of Visibility, we are hosting a panel discussion featuring three transgender veterans.Sign up here
Zander Keig is an award-winning licensed clinical social worker, health educator, and anthology editor who served in the US Coast Guard. He currently serves as Welcome Ministry Board President, Transgender American Veterans Association Board Member and Community and Healing Committee Director, and as an Advisory Board member and Senior Fellow for the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR). Additionally, he develops and delivers corporate wellness and diversity training and conducts emotional, mental, and social fitness e-courses.
Born in New Orleans and raised in Hawaii, Avalisa Ellicott has lived an eventful life. After high school and an unsuccessful year in college, she joined the United States Air Force. Though she successfully completed her training as a C-130 Loadmaster and proved herself capable of doing the job, she was constantly faced with her chain of command fighting to kick her out under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. While she still presented as male at the time, she gradually stopped following the rules of male gender expression outside of uniform. A tragic incident resulted in her being medically retired from the military.
After returning to civilian status, she decided to be truthful to herself and in 2010, she transitioned. In a world where there is limited understanding, Avalisa took it upon herself to help educate others. She felt representation was missing for Black Trans Women and started a YouTube channel to share her experiences. After gaining the attention of viewers, she was invited to join a collaborative channel called the Trans Youth Channel. It was comprised of trans men, women, and people with gender-diverse identities and aimed to help trans youth and their families with their transitions. She unintentionally became an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, specifically an advocate for Trans Rights.
Avalisa was extremely active in the LGBTQIA+ community in Austin Texas. She received requests to speak and educate not only around the area, but eventually around the country. After moving to Nebraska in 2017, she was invited to sit on the Omaha Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Board and was dedicated to making change within the community. Avalisa decided to return to college and received her bachelor’s degree from University of Nebraska at Omaha in Marketing in 2020. She works with Speaking of Happy and Eli Rigatuso to educate organizations on diversity and how to truly be inclusive of trans people. She has gained visibility from years of modeling, acting, and public speaking and uses that visibility to highlight the needs of those with less privilege. She currently serves as the Vice President of Transgender American Veterans Association.
Landon currently works for Anheuser-Busch InBev’s global innovation and investment fund and serves as a Policy Fellow with Minority Veterans of America. Connecting all they do is their belief that innovation and exploring unknowns should be done sustainably and equitably, and that people deserve to thrive within the systems and organizations structuring our communities. Landon has over a decade of experience in veteran and LGBTQ-focused military advocacy. As a Fellow with Minority Veterans of America, they are focused on increasing economic stability, employment, and access to care for over 10.7 million minority-identifying veterans.
They have co-authored multiple academic articles and expert commentaries, been invited to present and lecture at conferences, colleges, and other events, and taught as an adjunct professor at Williams College. Landon has recently joined the advisory board of a joint Mayo Clinic and Duke University research program examining the healthcare needs and experiences of transgender patients. In 2022 their work in economic justice was recognized by Out Leaders and New America when Landon was named one of the top 50 LGBTQIA leaders in national security.
Landon earned their B.A. in Philosophy and Sociology from Williams College, where they now serve on the Executive Committee of the Society of Alumni and the Executive Committee of BiGLATA, Williams’ LGBTQ alumni network. Before matriculating at Williams they attended Northern Virginia Community College, and worked as a skilled trades apprentice with the United Association Plumbers Local 5 outside of Washington D.C. They are a veteran of the United States Air Force.