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Valley Veteran recalls creating the Transgender Pride Flag

Monica with her flag.jpeg
Posted at 10:40 PM, Jun 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-11 08:19:57-04

PHOENIX — The Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix is celebrating Pride with a display of flags this month.

Some you may not have ever seen or know what they represent.

The Gilbert Baker Pride Flag is known as one of the first and most traditional. The colorful flag was inspired by Judy Garland's "Over the rainbow" widely know from the Movie ‘The Wizard of Oz.’

The Two-Spirit Pride Flag Represents Indigenous Americans who identify outside the male-female binary.

The Transgender Pride Flag was created right here in the Valley, not too long ago.

“Everywhere I went, I brought the flag with me,” said Monica Helms over a video call.

Helms is the creator of the Transgender Pride Flag.

She spent much of her life in the community of Maryvale, later attending Glendale Community College.

She joined the Navy in 1970 where she says she had to keep a life-long secret while aboard the U.S.S. Francis Scott Key submarine.

Monica in the Navy

"I liked to dress in girls’ clothes, then later on, I found out I liked the way I looked. It wasn't until 1987 when I was long out of the Navy that I realized I needed to change,” she said.

In 1997, Helms began the process of her gender transition.

"If I didn't live my true self, I wouldn't be here today. I honestly know that,” she said

Two years later, she was sitting down with Michael Page, the creator of the Bisexual Flag who said the transgender community needed one too.

Weeks later, Helms says the image just came to her one morning.

"I went everywhere with it,” she said.

The blue on the flag is for boys, the pink for girls and white for those who are transitioning.

“The design is such as no matter which way you fly it, it's always correct signifying us finding correctness in our own lives,” said Helms.

The flag's first time seen in public was at the Phoenix pride parade back in 2000.

She says it's since been on every continent on the globe, including Antarctica.

In 2014, the original was accepted into the Smithsonian.

She's devoted much of her life since advocating for Transgender American Veterans.

"I wanted to let people know, my life wasn't just creating the Trans Flag, even though that's what I'll be remembered for,” said Helms with a smile.