The kind people at MB Books sent a copy of ‘More Than Just a Flag’, an autobiography of Trans Flag Creator and Trans Activist, Monica F. Helms, to review.
I love to read and I especially like to read what is called ‘micro-history’ which is usually a deeply researched book that focuses on something very specific that has had a significant impact on society. I believe our community should be familiar with our history so I was very excited to read this.
The book covers her time serving in the Navy, her journey of discovering who she is and her days as an activist. In addition to creating the transgender pride flag, she also fought for creating a union when she worked for a civilian employer which is where she worked when she transitioned.
According to the introduction, some of Ms. Helms’ other achievements include:
-Before TAVA’s launch in 2003, Monica was active on the
board of directors of the nonprofit National Transgender
-Monica was Georgia’s (and the South’s) first transgender
delegate to the Democratic National Convention. She has
been active in lobbying state legislators in Arizona and
Georgia, and the U.S. Congress.
-Along the way, Monica managed to pick up three college
degrees, two in television production. She maintains a
channel on YouTube with some 250 videos.
-Monica has six books available for purchase on Amazon.
Five are science fiction, three of which – perhaps
unsurprisingly – involve submarines.
The memoir is insightful, relatable, serious and lighthearted. It is also heartbreaking, especially when Helms recounts her relationship with her parents:
As I left their house again, I tried to give my mother a hug goodbye, but she wouldn’t put her arms around me. Instead she told me, “We’re taking you out of the will and we don’t ever want to see you again.”
So, I walked out of my parents’ home, never to speak face-to- face with my mother for the next seven-and-a-half-years. I would never get the chance to look into my father’s eyes ever again, because he would end up dying a few years later. Even though the rejection
caused me enormous pain, I knew I had no other option than to continue with my transition. To the outside world my actions may have looked selfish, but I can truthfully say that I only did what I had to do to survive.
I learned a lot more than I expected about this history and creation of our iconic flag. But as the title implies, this book covers more than just our flag. Ms. Helms writes about her experience and her perspective on gender. Much of what she writes is a reminder about every transperson is different and how different the meaning of ‘transgender’ can be from person to person.
From the text:
As my life has progressed, I’ve found that I’m both man and woman, neither a man nor a woman, and sometimes both at the same time. I am not confused, rather I believe I’m enlightened. I feel that I have been blessed to see life through the eyes of a man and the eyes
of a woman. It has given me an amazing viewpoint of the world. As such, I believe I am an amalgamated person.
An amalgamation is “the process of combining or unitingmultiple entities into one form.” In metallurgy, in an amalgam or alloy, the elements do not chemically combine, but mix together to form a stronger byproduct. I feel that the amalgamation of male and female in me has helped to make me a stronger person. I identify as female, but I’m more of a bigender person. This allows my brain to float between multiple worlds, or solidly take on one role or another. Sometimes I am a man and a woman at the same time, or I can
change in a nanosecond, then change back just as fast.
If you are interested in our history I recommend ‘More Than Just a Flag’, but I also encourage you to read it as I found Helms’ perspective on gender fascinating. She writes well and succinctly gets to the point of what she is saying.
You can get a copy online or from your local bookseller. Thank you to Ms. Helms for writing this, for your contributions to our community and for creating a symbol for us. Thank you to MB Books for sending this!