After posting a selfie to Facebook, Carla Lewis has found herself going viral. Far from the kittens, personal mishaps, or humorous memes that normally spawn hits on social media, Lewis has drawn attention for a pointed t-shirt she’s wearing.
The 44 was discharged from the Air Force in 2010 after being diagnosed with gender dysphoria. In a Facebook post, she wore a t-shirt proclaiming, “Transgender veteran: I fought for your right to hate me.” After garnering almost 12,000 likes, 14,000 shares and 200 comments, Lewis spoke with The Huffington Post about her t-shirt.
“Here’s the message I want others to glean from this shirt: Whenever a citizen volunteers for the armed services they immediately, at the very moment, make the conscious decision that they will sacrifice their life if it means securing freedom for their fellow citizens,” Lewis said. “Every right, every privilege enjoyed by an American citizen is paid with the currency of soldiers’ lives. Even if the rights and privileges secured enable others to lobby against me and my transgender brothers and sisters. Freedom matters to us.”
Transgender servicemembers are still barred from open military service. When Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was dismantled in 2010, the armed forces retained the right to discharge individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Military officials have previously promised to address the imbalance with no action, but the Pentagon finally committed to lifting the ban on trans servicemembers next year.
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