On Veterans Day, as Americans pay tribute to all the men and women who’ve sacrificed and fought for America in military conflicts throughout the nation’s history, one veteran is spreading a powerful and timely message on a t-shirt she created. Carla Lewis is a transgender woman who says she was discharged from the Air Force 18 months into her service after military officials learned she transitioned. In response, Lewis, 44 and a mother of two from Tennessee, made a t-shirt that reads, “Transgender Veteran: I fought for your right to hate me.” It’s a powerful message about identity and the American values servicemen and servicewomen courageously defend. On Friday, Lewis posted a photo of herself on Facebook wearing the shirt and it’s become a viral sensation, racking up more than 12,000 likes and 14,000 shares. In an interview with The Huffington Post about what she wants people to take away after seeing the shirt, Lewis said, “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. 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.” Currently, transgender men and women are barred from serving openly in the U.S. military, but the Defense Department announced earlier this year that it plans to lift that ban sometime in 2016.
Read the full story at The Huffington Post.