The military spouse is quite an anomaly; they are selfless, committed, and independent. While those things will never change, the population that makes up military spouses is drastically changing. In 2022, there will be more male military spouses than ever before. In addition, the number of male and female spouses of same-sex couples is rising.
And in the most recent of times, the spouses of transgender service members are being welcomed into the military spouse circle. Peg Fram opened up to MilSpouseFest about her journey.
Fram has been a military spouse for almost 20 years, and her story begins as the daughter of a Vietnam veteran. She fell in love with her boyfriend Bryan shortly before 9/11. He wanted to serve his country and she wanted to support his efforts as an Air Force officer.
“I would reflect on what my spouse was doing and care deeply about what I said and what I did,” Fram said. As a result, the pair experienced PCS, separation, making military friends, and building a family together.
Over time, her husband climbed the ranks while keeping part of his life a secret. But all along, Peg knew the person she loved was transgender.
We’re No Different
Lt. Col. Bree Fram is one of the first known active-duty service members to identify as transgender publicly. But, Peg Fram says, “We are no different. She is still the same person she was before.” And in 2016, she remembers, “My wife was pushed into a position she felt she had to come forward.”
Here’s a timeline of the history of transgender people serving in the military.
From 1960 to 2016: Blanket ban on all transgender people from serving and enlisting in the United States military.
2016 to 2018: Transgender individuals in the United States military were allowed to serve in their identified or assigned gender upon completing the transition.
2019- 2021: Currently serving transgender individuals who have already received a diagnosis of gender dysphoria may continue to serve in their preferred gender, receive hormone treatments and undergo gender-affirming surgery. Anyone with gender dysphoria taking hormones or already undergoing a gender transition will not be allowed to enlist. Further, any currently serving troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria after this date will have to serve in their sex as assigned at birth and will be barred from taking hormones or getting gender-affirming surgery.
- The military will now provide service members a process by which they may transition gender while serving.
- A service member may not be involuntarily discharged or denied reenlistment solely on the basis of gender identity.
- Procedures will be developed for changing a service member’s gender marker.
- The Defense Health Agency will develop clinical practice guidelines to support the medical treatment of service members diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
When Lt. Col. Fram came forward, Peg immediately reached out to their family and friends.
“We had been in for so long,” she said. “I wanted them to hear from me, not from someone else or on Facebook.”
The reaction from her community, however, was sometimes a chilly one.
“Originally, I got back some form of support, and then as the time went on within weeks, they stopped talking to me, and I lost a small handful of military spouse friends,” she said. She describes the loss as “incredibly painful.”
But Peg had no choice but to press on. She wiped her tears away and took on raising their three children while her partner lived away at the Naval War College. “Radio silence. I did not speak to a spouse from there the whole year we were apart,” explains Fram.
Dedicated to Acceptance
The Frams’ marriage remains solid, and they are both dedicated to building a culture of acceptance in the military and their neighborhood. Fram has a reliable support system of military spouse friends she made worldwide, and she keeps them close.
Fram says, “we may not be together, but they understand what I have been through, the moves, uprooting children. You will find your tribe, and you have to.” She also believes mental health treatment can help get you through challenges times, like the one she experienced.
“Finding counselors and mental health help who you can be open and honest with can help you through massive changes in your life,” Fram said. “Being away from family, you need mental health support that friends aren’t able to give.”
Fram hopes to see deeper connections between military spouses as the demands on our families become even more severe. “I would like to see the resurgence of spouse clubs. I miss that. It was where I made a lot of friends,” said Fram.
The military spouse community can look to Peg Fram as an example as her spouse becomes the highest-ranking transgender person in the military and serves in the Space Force. And it seems like the sky is their limit.
“The main advice I can give is to be as open as honest about who you are, and you will find other spouses who accept you for who you are,” Fram said.
Resources for Transgender Service Members & their Families
SPARTA is an organization that advocates and educates about transgender military service and is dedicated to the support and professional development of more than 1,400 transgender service members.
Lt. Col. Bree Fram serves as the current president of SPARTA. A member since 2014, she has focused on policy and advocacy work. Additionally, she provides educational briefings on transgender and diversity issues to military and civilian audiences. Learn more at SPARTA.
Modern Military Association of America
The Modern Military Association of America (MMAA) is the nation’s largest organization of LGBTQ service members, military spouses, veterans, their families and allies. Formed through the merger of the American Military Partner Association and OutServe-SLDN, we are a united voice for the LBGTQ military and veteran community. Learn more at Modern Military Association of America.