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Transgender military veteran’s powerful picture: ‘I fought for your right to hate me’

By Micah Sulit

A US veteran, transgender woman and mother of two reminded the world why Americans have the freedom to hate on transgender people – because soldiers like her fought for it.

In a selfie that’s been shared over 14,000 times on Facebook since it was posted on Friday, 44-year-old Carla Lewis wears a shirt that said, ‘Transgender Veteran: ‘I fought for your right to hate me’.

Carla Lewis

“Today’s casual Friday t-shirt,” she captioned the photo.

Lewis was discharged from the US military in 2010 for gender dysphoria, after an extensive background check revealed that she had seen a counselor on base about her issues with gender identity.

“They tried to court martial me for being gay, but they couldn’t, so my discharge papers say that I’ve got mental disorders,” Carla told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “In the eyes of the military, being transgender is a blackmailable offense. The fear is that if you were not out, you could be blackmailed into giving away government secrets.”

But her ‘casual Friday t-shirt’ is a reality check about diversity in the US military – and the price that soldiers of all gender identities and sexual orientations pay for the freedoms enjoyed by their countrymen.

Lewis told The Huffington Post, “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.

“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.”

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