How an iMessage App helped make history at the first transgender pride crosswalk in the United States

2017.06.10 Painting of #DCRainbowCrosswalks Washington, DC USA 6410
2017.06.10 Painting of #DCRainbowCrosswalks Washington, DC USA 6410 (View on

Washington, DC did it first (again). The first transgender pride crosswalk in the United States, the second in North America. (see: Photo Friday: Where crosswalks are inclusive, too. Washington, DC USA for more information about this work)

The history on top of the history is that the crosswalk’s creation included the creator of the transgender pride flag, Monica Helms (@MF_Helms).

Monica learned about the crosswalk because of this blog post:

Special Pride Project Complete: Transgender Pride Flag iMessage App

Which was shared on Facebook, which she responded to, and connected this work to her work. It turned out that Monica and her partner Darlene happened to be in Washington, DC (they are from Atlanta area) on the day we painted, and so, we painted.

A Crisscross of History – Monica and Ted

The first transgender pride flag was unveiled in the LGBTQ Pride Celebrations in Phoenix, Arizona in the year 2000. I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, and it turns out I was born and raised less than a mile from where Monica grew up. My father completed his residency training at a new hospital in the newish community that Monica’s family settled in at the time.

I’d like to be able to say that many who leave Arizona go on to do great things, or great things for the LGBTQ community specifically (Cleve Jones @CleveJones1 is also an Arizona native)….maybe it is that the places that are at times the least tolerant create the greatest innovation.

A 5 Star Experience

2017.06.10 Painting of #DCRainbowCrosswalks Washington, DC USA 6336
2017.06.10 Painting of #DCRainbowCrosswalks Washington, DC USA 6336 (View on

As Oprah herself defines 5 star experiences, this was one of those. Maybe a 6 star. My favorite images in the collection below are of my fellow citizens, humans, leaders, marking their identity on the streets of our nation’s capital. Fully sanctioned, fully supported, following in the footsteps of the Mayor herself who painted the previous day, protected by a Metropolitan Police Sergeant who also happens to be transgender herself.

The power of a flag to indicate that a person exists, that they matter, is undeniable to someone who is LGBTQ. Others may never understand it, but they can work to understand it 🙂 .

When I said goodbye to Monica my voice cracked a little when I said “thanks for changing the world.” A person doesn’t get to say that to a lot of people in their lifetimes. Although, in Washington, DC, I seem to say that to a lot more people than any other place I’ve been.

2017.06.10 Painting of #DCRainbowCrosswalks Washington, DC USA 6415
2017.06.10 Painting of #DCRainbowCrosswalks Washington, DC USA 6415 (View on

Isn’t this century the best? (It is)

Photos below. As Washington DC goes, so goes the nation.

I am what I am
And what I am needs no excuses
I deal my own deck
Sometimes the aces sometimes the deuces
It’s one life and there’s no return and no deposit
One life so it’s time to open up your closet
Life’s not worth a damn till you can shout out
I am what I amGloria Gaynor

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Ted Eytan, MD
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