From the incredible journey of its creator to the civil causes it has and continues to fight for, the transgender pride flag is much more than a flag.
Monica Helms had a pretty ordinary life in the beginning. She grew up in a religious family, and in 1970, she enlisted in the United States Navy. But as no one else knew at the time, she had “a deep, dark secret.”
“I was raised Catholic, and you’re supposed to pray to God for things. So I prayed to God to turn me into a girl.”
But it was not until 1976, when she was reassigned in the San Francisco Bay Area, that she began the journey toward womanhood. Thankfully, San Francisco’s liberal and accepting communities began allowing LGBTQ+ people to explore their identity and sexuality without many of the social constraints present in virtually every other city in America. So like many other LGBTQ in the military at the time, Monica began looking for answers. First, it occurred to her that she might be a crossdresser and would show up to gay clubs dressed as a woman. But in 1987, she realized that she was transgender, and a few years later began her transition. But she went even further.
In 2000, after moving to Georgia, Helms became the executive director of the Georgia transgender advocacy organization Trans=Action and went on to co-found the Transgender American Veterans association in 2003, which would come to play a huge role in fighting President Trump’s assault on transgender soldiers in the military.
It was actually the creator of the bisexual pride flag Michael Page (which you can check out in https://pridepalace.lgbt/blogs/news/facts-about-the-bisexual-pride-flag) who encouraged helms to design a Transgender Pride Flag. But the idea spontaneously came to her one morning as she was waking up.
“When you wake up, and you’re still sort of groggy and everything but you’re starting to think, and your mind is starting to fill with images - that’s when it came to me,” Helms said. “Divine Intervention,” she called it.
The outer layers of the flag are light blue, traditionally representing baby boys, and the inner ones are light pink, traditionally representing...you guessed it: Baby girls. The white central park stands for those who are intersex, meaning neutral or unidentified. But like with every other flag we have written about, there is a deeper meaning.
“The pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it is always correct, signifying us finding correctness in our lives,” Helms said.
Unlike other flags that caught on immediately by the internet, the transgender flag began its journey in the suitcase of Monica Helms, who brought it herself to parades, conferences, and other LGBTQ+ events. But once it reached some initial exposure, it exploded to fame.
“The speed with which the flag’s usage spared never fails to surprise me, and every time I see it, or a photo of it, flying above a historic town hall or building, I am filled with pride.”
One of the LGBTQ+ groups whose been especially targetted by the Trump administration is transgender people. Trump’s continuous attempt to ban transgender people from the military as well as the anti-transgender bathroom legislation and limitations of Title IX rights for transgender students have affected so many who are fighting for equality and their right to be who they are. That is why many advocates, including Helms, are using the flag now more than ever with the purpose it had when it was created.
“It tells the world that trans people are part of this country,” said Helms.
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