‘I fought for your right to hate me:’ Transgender veteran’s photo goes viral

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A transgender veteran posted a picture of herself wearing a shirt saying “Transgender Veteran: I fought for your right to hate me.”

Carla Lewis was born Carl Aldrige. When she was 18, she enlisted in the Air Force as “Carl,” but shortly thereafter saw a counselor for gender identity issues. When her superiors found out, Carla says she was discharged.

Nearly 25 years later, she says little has changed.

“Still nothing has been done to allow transgender soldiers to serve openly in the military,” she said.

“It’s indicative of how I feel,” she said of her now-viral T-shirt.

The software developer lives in Antioch and says she wore the shirt for the office’s casual Friday policy.

“Usually I do something goofy, but every so often I’ll do something political,” she shared with 8News sister station WKRN. “Since Veterans Day fell on a Wednesday and I wouldn’t be able to wear it, I decided to wear it last Friday.”

Since Lewis posted it on her Facebook page, the photo has been shared over 16,000 times and Lewis is being interviewed by TV stations and websites across the world.

“It’s been insane,” she said. “But it also has given me a platform I didn’t think possible.”

One of the issues Lewis is passionate about is fighting a Tennessee state representative’s effort to pass a law that would ban transgender students from being able to use bathrooms and locker rooms of the gender they identify with.

“Passing a law like that will put a student in more danger,” Lewis said.

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