Monica Helms, who created the transgender pride flag, was especially disappointed to see the announcement — as both a transgender woman and a Navy veteran.
"What would I say to him if I was to see him today?" she said. "'What the hell were you thinking?' Many of our allies [around the world, including Australia, Canada, Israel and the U.K.] have trans people serving openly in their militaries. And they have not had any problems."
"We did not have any problems when they first allowed transgender service members to be open last year," she said. "It just doesn’t make any sense."
Helms, who served in the Navy between 1970 and 1978 as a submariner, told HuffPost that she didn't even know the term "transgender" during the 1970s, and didn't transition until years after her service in 1987.
But even without having a word to describe what she was going through at the time, Helms said that she knew she wasn't alone.
"I have met at least 40 different trans women who were submariners at one time or another. We all had the same stories," she told HuffPost. "It’s like, 'Wow, I’m glad nobody found out.' But we’re all proud of our service. It’s one thing that I can always say."
Helms created the trans pride flag in 1999, according to The Daily Beast, after the idea came to her in a case of what she called "divine intervention," and she has remained a staunch activist for trans rights.
When asked what she would say to young trans service members or hopeful trans members, Helms had a message of hope: "Trump will not be president forever, so keep your hopes up. We will get this back on in the future."
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