Unlike the wider LGBT communities worldwide which have adopted the Rainbow flag, the various transgender individuals, organizations and communities around the world have not coalesced around one single flag design. The most common flag is the blue, pink, and white one, but there are several flags used and endorsed by the varying transgender individuals, organizations and communities. There have even been, and continue to be, alternatives to these flags suggested. The varying flags have been and continue to be used to represent transgender pride, diversity, rights and/or remembrance by transgender individuals, their organizations, their communities and their allies.
The most prominent of these flag designs is known as the "Transgender Pride Flag" which is a symbol of transgender pride and diversity, and transgender rights.
The flag represents the transgender community and consists of five horizontal stripes: two light blue, two pinks, and one white in the center.
Helms describes the meaning of the transgender pride flag as follows:
- "The stripes at the top and bottom are light blue, the traditional color for baby boys. The stripes next to them are pink, the traditional color for baby girls. The stripe in the middle is white, for those who are transitioning or consider themselves having a neutral or undefined gender."
In the United Kingdom, Brighton and Hove council flies this flag on the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Transport for London also flew the flag from London Underground's 55 Broadway Headquarters for the 2016 Transgender Awareness Week.
It was flown from the large public flagpole in San Francisco's Castro District (where the rainbow flag usually flies) for the first time on 19 and 20 November 2012 in commemoration of the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The flag-raising ceremony was presided over by local drag queen La Monistat.
Philadelphia became the first county government in the U.S. to raise the transgender pride flag in 2015. It was raised at City Hall in honor of Philadelphia's 14th Annual Trans Health Conference, and remained next to the US and City of Philadelphia flags for the entirety of the conference. Then-Mayor Michael Nutter gave a speech in honor of the trans community's acceptance in Philadelphia.
In January 2019, Virginia congresswoman Jennifer Wexton hung the transgender pride flag outside her office in Washington, D.C. in a move to show support for the transgender community. In March 2019, dozens of Democratic and independent members of Congress flew trans flags outside their offices for Trans Visibility Week leading up to the International Transgender Day of Visibility.
In addition to Monica Helms’s original transgender pride flag design, a number of communities have created their variation on the flag, adding symbols or elements to reflect aspects of transgender identity, such as the canton of the Flag of the United States being added to create a flag representing transgender American identity.
A variant of the Transgender Pride Flag called the "Black Trans Flag" was created by trans activist and writer Raquel Willis. It has a black stripe in the middle instead of the original white stripe. Willis created it as a symbol to represent the higher levels of discrimination, violence, and murder that the black trans community face in contrast to the larger transgender movement. It was first posted to her Facebook account. And it was first used on 25 August 2015 by black transgender activists throughout the United States as part of the first Black Trans Liberation Tuesday, Black Trans Liberation Tuesday was held in conjunction with Black Lives Matter, for the Black transgender women murdered throughout the year. This flag has received mild criticism for removing symbolism pertaining to nonbinary people.
Over the years several transgender flags have been adopted by various transgender individuals, organizations and communities. There have even been, and continue to be, alternatives to these flags suggested.
A third design is used in Israel by their transgender and genderqueer community. This flag has a neon green background (to stand out in public places) and a centred Venus, Mars, and Mars with stroke symbol ("⚧") in black to represent transgender people.
In Ontario a flag known as the "Trans Flag", created by Ottawa graphic designer Michelle Lindsay, is used. It consists of two stripes, the top in Sunset Magenta representing female, and the bottom in Ocean Blue representing male, with a tripled Venus, Mars, and Mars with stroke symbol ("⚧") representing transgender people, overlaying them.
The Trans Flag was first used by the Ottawa area trans community for Ottawa's 2010 edition of the Trans Day of Remembrance. This event included a ceremony in which the Ottawa Police unveiled and raised this flag. The ceremony was repeated during the 2011 Ottawa and Gatineau editions of the Trans Day of Remembrance, this time joined by the Ottawa Paramedics, Ottawa City Hall and Gatineau City Hall also raising the Trans Flag during their own ceremonies. The list of groups doing official unfurling/raising of the Trans Flag in the Ottawa-Gatineau area as part of their Trans Day of Remembrance has grown each year. The Trans Flag has also been used as part of the Peterborough Pride Parade.
In 1999, San Francisco trans man Johnathan Andrew, under the moniker of "Captain John" on his female-to-male trans website "Adventures in Boyland", designed and published a flag for those within the transgender community that identify as trans. This trans pride flag consists of seven stripes alternating in light pink and light blue separated by thin white stripes and featuring, in the upper left hoist, a twinned Venus and Mars symbol ("⚥") in lavender. The repeated explanation of the color symbolism for Monica Helms's more well-known flag design is remarkably similar/almost identical to that of the description of Andrew's design on other pages. The original description for Andrew's trans pride flag read:
"And finally, an AiB Exclusive--the Transgender Pride Flag (c)1999. Yes, indeedy--it's about time we had our own symbol to represent the community, ain't it? Bears have theirs. Leathermen have theirs. Why can't we have ours? And might we say that we feel these designs, designed by your friendly neighborhood Captain, embodies all aspects of our identities. Whether we're transgender or transsexual, going from male (blue) to female (pink) or from female (pink) to male (blue), or just somewhere in between, both flag designs capture the subtlties and the strengths of our spirits (and the white accents in between the lines are the--supposedly--the little triumphs that happen upon us during our journies to become whole (the flag as a whole)). The lavender-colored sex symbol--not to be confused with The Artist Currently Not Known as Purple's symbol--can also designate FtM/MtF/or Intersexed/Both/Shifting. As you can see, both flag designs/symbols can be used to encompass all types of gender variation. Hell, who knows, maybe it just might catch on (and Cpt. John will be elated--even more so when he get [sic] credit for the design)."
Andrew currently resides in Oakland and has recently commented about the design. "I designed this flag at the time because back then, there was nothing for us besides the standard rainbow flag, the bear pride flag, the leather pride flag. Before Google existed in the capacity that it does today, I deep-searched the internet to see if I could find a trans pride flag and found none, so as an artist/designer, designed one myself for our community. The flag itself was meant to represent the [trans] community as a whole, with the twinned symbol representing our journey and the qualities that we possess. I published the design on my site as "the first trans pride flag", and some trans sites picked it up. We were all a tight-knit community of sites back then, linking to each other through pride webrings. Though it was my desire, I never had the funds to get it produced."
In 2014 a new transgender flag known as the "Trans Kaleidoscope" was created by members of the Toronto Trans Alliance (TTA). It was raised at the first Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony at Toronto City Hall on 20 November 2014. It was selected by TTA member for this occasion, via a vote, over Monica Helms' Transgender Pride flag and Michelle Lindsay's Trans Flag. The Trans Kaleidoscope is described on the TTA web site as:
"The graded colours represent the range of gender identities across the spectrum with individual colours representing:
- Pink: women/femaleness
- Purple: those who feel their gender identity is a combination of male and female
- Green: those who feel their gender identity is neither male nor female
- Blue: men/maleness
The yellow circle represents those who are intersex.
The new white symbol with a black border is an extension of the Trans symbol with the male and female symbols, a combined symbol representing those with a gender identity combining male and female and a plain pole (with neither arrow nor bar) representing those with a gender identity that is neither male nor female, embodying awareness and inclusion of all."
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