There’s a wrinkle in the story about an unprecedented number transgender pride flags popping up on Capitol Hill in honor of Transgender Visibility Week—quite literally.
While most have lauded the fact that lawmakers from Nancy Pelosi to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have draped the iconic pastel pink, blue, and white outside their D.C. offices, Twitter has had some words for lawmakers who seemed to have misplaced their irons.
On Tuesday, Senator Bernie Sanders counted himself among those proud to display the flag and tweeted a photo.
“Discrimination has no place in our society,” he wrote. “I am proud to display this flag as a symbol of my support for transgender people across the country.”
Twitter could not help but notice that the Vermont Senator’s flag looked like it had crawled out of a suitcase.
In a viral tweet Tuesday, popular YouTuber Natalie Wynn asked, “Thanks, but could you steam it first [sic].”
Thanks but could you steam it first https://t.co/cmay6Eaoem
— Natalie Wynn (@ContraPoints) March 26, 2019
And so set off the national debate on proper display of the trans flag.
On Wednesday morning, National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) digital campaigns manager Laurel Powell revealed that organization’s trans flag is also creased. The hashtag #WontBeIroned (a nod to #WontBeErased, which NCTE created after news broke that the Trump Administration wanted to legally erase trans people) has been trending ever since.
For everyone giving Reps and Senators heat for not ironing the trans flag:
— Laurel Powell (@Laurelista) March 27, 2019
— Liz Fong-Jones (方禮真) (@lizthegrey) March 27, 2019
— Sol Simón Alekos ⚧ (@SolRen2) March 27, 2019
Monica Helms, a U.S. Navy veteran, created the transgender pride flag 20 years ago. She said people can wear it like a cape, so long as they display it.
“Worried about it being wrinkled is a real kind of chickenshit thing, if you don’t mind me saying,” Helms tells NewNowNext. “Yeah, it’d be nice if they’d steam it, but the important thing is to actually put it out there.”
Rep. Mike Honda is believed to be the first on Capitol Hill to display the flag in 2016 (his flag was notably unironed).
In January, Democratic Virginia Rep. Jennifer Wexton made headlines for displaying the flag in honor of her niece (it could have used a steam, too). Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Alan Lowenthal, Pramila Jayapal, Andy Levin, and Lori Trahan all hung the flags.
Perhaps it’s no accident that most of them looked like Bernie Sanders’ suits, or that so many of them popped up this year. All of the flags were provided by NCTE (every member of Congress got one in major push with volunteers).
— National Center for Transgender Equality (@TransEquality) March 26, 2019
Samantha Allen, senior reporter for The Daily Beast, said the real question now is whether Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has ironed Helms original flag or kept it as is. The flag entered the collection in 2014.
The real test will be whether or not the one in the Smithsonian is ironed.
— Samantha Allen (@SLAwrites) March 27, 2019
The Smithsonian, baffled by a media inquiry on the matter, did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
Helms still has bigger dreams for the flag.
“I’d like to see it on the international space station,” she says. “Why not? It’s been everywhere on the planet, including Antarctica.”