Monica Helms

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Monica Helms
Monica Helms at San Francisco Trans March 2015.jpg
Monica Helms
Born (1951-03-08) March 8, 1951 (age 67)
ResidenceMarietta, Georgia, United States
  • Retired
    Camera Operator
Known for
Notable work
The Straits of Hell
Blue and Gold
Time Hostages
The Wayward Star
Tales from a Two-Gendered Mind[1]
Spouse(s)Darlene Darlington Wagner, PhD
Parent(s)Mary Hogge (1928), Robert Hogge (1928 to 2004)
RelativesTwo sisters, one brother, two sons, three grandsons

Monica F. Helms is a transgender activist, author, and veteran of the United States Navy. She is the creator of the Transgender Pride Flag.

US Navy career[edit]

Helms served in the US Navy from 1970-1978, and was assigned to two submarines, USS Francis Scott Key 1972-1976, USS Flasher 1976-1978.[2] During her time in the Navy, Helms began cross-dressing while based in Charleston, South Carolina and says in an interview it was the "deepest, darkest secret in [her] entire life".[3] She was reassigned to the Bay Area in 1976, and said she "felt like [she] could be out in public as [herself]".[3]

Helms left the Navy in 1978, and joined her hometown's chapter of the United States Submarine Veterans, Inc. in 1996.[4] After transitioning, Helms reapplied in 1998 to the Phoenix chapter of the veteran's group with the name "Monica" and received considerable push-back, including being referred to a more generic veteran's group for women rather than the submarine specific group. Helms eventually prevailed after a few months and claims to be the first woman to ever join the organization.[4]


Transgender Pride Flag

Helms created the Transgender Pride Flag in 1999,[5][6] and it was first flown at a Pride Parade in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2000.[7] Helms donated the original Transgender Pride Flag at the first ceremony honoring the addition of a collection of LGBT historical items at the Smithsonian on August 19, 2014.[8]

Helms founded the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) in 2003, and remained president until 2013. On May 1, 2004, TAVA sponsored the first ever Transgender Veterans March to the Wall. Fifty trans veterans arrived in DC and visited the Vietnam Memorial to honor people they knew whose names are on The Wall. They also made history when they became the first openly transgender people to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. They did it again in 2005.[2] Helms continues to advocate for transgender service members and veterans, as the end of the prolific Don't Ask Don't Tell policy of the United States military did not change the status of transgender military personnel.

Her political activism includes lobbying state legislators in Arizona and Georgia, and Congress on Capitol Hill. She made history when she was elected as a delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts. She was the first trans person elected to a DNC Convention from Georgia and the South.


Helms has a General AA Degree and an AA in Industrial Television from Glendale Community College (Arizona) in 1987 and graduated from Chattahoochee Technical College 2018 with an AA Degree in Television Production Technology.

Business Venture[edit]

Helms records 4K nature stock footage of Georgia and Arizona with a Panasonic HC-X1000 video camera and sends them to various stock footage companies. She has made sales.


Darlene with Phoenix

Rocket Videos:

  • Manchester Launch 8/5/17 – via YouTube.
  • Manchester Launch 4/1/17 – via YouTube.
  • Tifton Turkey Launch, 11/26/16 – via YouTube.
  • Lilly Launch September 24 & 25, 2016 – via YouTube.
  • Manchester Rocket Launch 7-9-16 – via YouTube.

Helms builds and launches model rockets. She is a member of the Southern Area Rocketry and the National Association of Rocketry. She launched her first rocket, a Centauri Javelin, in March 1967 and now has launched over 200 different rockets and over 475 launches. Helms also enjoys recording and editing videos. She has created over 200 videos on YouTube and has posted many of them on Facebook. She has made several videos on model rocket launches, LGBT activism, and political commentary.



Wayward Star
Time Hostages

Helms has written several articles for magazines, newspaper, and blogs. In 1993, her short story "Phone of Plenty" won 3rd prize in the Arizona Author's Contest. She has published six books, of which four are Science Fiction (Valhalla, The Straits of Hell, Time Hostages, and The Wayward Star). The last one is a collection of short stories called Tales from a Two-Gendered Mind. The Straits of Hell is a sequel to Valhalla.

Recent years[edit]

Helms worked for Sprint for 25 years and retired in January 2015. She married Darlene Darlington Wagner on November 18, 2016. Wagner has a PhD in Bioinformatics from Georgia Tech and works at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia.


  1. ^ Sex and the Single Trannie by Helms in Tracie O'Keefe; Katrina Fox (18 July 2010). Trans People in Love. Routledge. pp. xii–xiii. ISBN 978-1-135-69568-2.
  2. ^ a b Saunders, Patrick (5 May 2016). "LGBT Military: Atlanta transgender members, veterans await end to ban". Georgia Voice. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  3. ^ a b Saunders, Patrick (5 October 2009). "Monica Helms, transsexual Navy veteran". Creative Loafing. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  4. ^ a b Daileda, Colin (29 Oct 2012). "For Transgendered Soldiers, Don't Ask Don't Tell Carries On". The Atlantic. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  5. ^ Brian van de Mark (10 May 2007). "Gay and Lesbian Times". Archived from the original on 6 September 2012. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  6. ^ Fairyington, Stephanie (12 November 2014). "The Smithsonian's Queer Collection". The Advocate. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  7. ^ Sankin, Aaron (20 Nov 2012). "Transgender Flag Flies In San Francisco's Castro District After Outrage From Activists". Huffington Post. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  8. ^ Katz, Joeli (20 Aug 2014). "LGBT historical items celebrated at the Smithsonian". GLAAD. Retrieved 17 June 2016.