Ever wonder where the flags in the LGBTQ2S+ come from? Why there are so many and which ones represent which identities? Why some of them change, or what they represent? Well, you’re in the right place; welcome to the Pride Flags blog series by me, Eddy Robinson, your very own Pride Centre Admin for SAMRU! This series will discuss the origins, meaning and importance behind some of the flags of the queer community. This week, as it is Trans Awareness Week, and Nov. 20th is the widely recognized Trans Day of Remembrance, we will be celebrating the Trans flag.
Pride Flags: The Trans Flag
Some of you may be wondering what I mean when I say Trans. Let me explain. Trans is short for Transgender, and Transgender is an umbrella term for anyone whose sex assigned at birth does not match their gender identity (or what gender they feel), in other words, anyone who isn’t cisgender (someone whose sex assigned at birth matches their gender identity).
The Trans flag consists of two light blue stripes (located on the top and bottom), two light pink stripes (located on the inside of the blue stripe) and a single white stripe in the middle:
This Trans flag was originally designed by Monica Helms, a Trans Woman, in 1999. The flag was first shown at the Phoenix, Arizona Pride Parade in 2000 and, as of 2014, currently resides in the Smithsonian museum as part of their LGBT collection.
Monica says that it the symmetry makes it so either way you fly it, it is right-side-up, signifying individuals finding affirmation in their life. She says that the colours all represent something specific, “The stripes at the top and bottom are light blue, the traditional colour for baby boys. The stripes next to them are pink, the traditional colour for baby girls. The stripe in the middle is white, for those who are intersex, transitioning or consider themselves having a neutral or undefined gender.”
Many folks have expressed concern with this symbolism, saying that the pink and blue colours are very binary, and only serve to reproduce harmful stereotypes while others like that it calls those out. Similarly the representation of the white stripe has been questioned. Some say that it was originally meant to symbolize those Trans folks who were transitioning, and the inclusion of gender non- conforming folks came later. This representation also serves to be problematic as it creates a strict narrative for Trans folks. However, the inclusion of gender non-conforming folks is also important.
Gender non-conforming is, similar to Transgender, an umbrella term for folks who don’t identify as being either a woman or man. This can include, but is certainly not limited to, non-binary, gender fluid, agender, and gender queer. Some gender non-conforming folks don’t identify under the Trans umbrella but many do, since their assigned gender at birth doesn’t match that of their gender identity. It’s important to let folks use the words and symbols that they feel fit best for them.
Other variations of the Trans flag include using the astrological symbols like this one:
Many folks, however, don’t like the biological connotation that the astrological symbols evoke. Some like having a distinct symbol that can be used alongside the other gendered symbols.
Similarly, genderqueer folks have often flown their own flag that looks something like this:
(More to come on this one later)
In the end, preferences towards which flag or symbol are all about the individual. Everyone has a unique experience with gender and will relate to representative symbols differently. The most important thing to remember is everyone is different and one symbol cannot speak for the experiences of all.
Eddy Robinson is a fifth year student at Mount Royal majoring in Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership in the Bachelor of Health and Physical Education (HPED), and minoring in Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies. First as a volunteer for SAMRU and now as a part time employee, they worked hard to create opportunities for thierself. They are currently working as the Pride Centre Administrative Assistant, as an Academic Representation Volunteer and as the VP of the HPED Student Association.