V Wegman, a former NASA intern who identifies as non-binary, tweeted out a photo and message of support for transgender troops following the Supreme Court’s decision to allow Donald Trump's ban on trans service members to proceed. Now, the post has gone viral for the Ohio State University Communications student.
I’m a nonbinary NASA intern. Nothing about my identity makes me any less capable of working in the government.
This administration is manufacturing oppression as a distraction from real issues. #TransMilitaryBan
PS my coworkers and I are getting pretty desperate #shutdown pic.twitter.com/VEBUiUrpI0
— v cold (@vwegs) January 22, 2019
Wegman tweeted the photo in response to the news that the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, lifted two injunctions that delayed Trump’s ban on transgender troops on the military, which he first callously floated in a July 2017 tweet.
While Wegman does not currently work for NASA, they interned for the NASA History Office and later at the Langley Research Center. In an interview with The Daily Dot, they explained the reasoning behind their post.
“I wanted to demonstrate that LGBTQ+ folks are not inherently incapable of working in federal government, which I believe is ultimately the source behind pushing for the ban,” Wegman said. “I recognize that I am not military; I am military-adjacent, but I hoped to demonstrate the presence of LGBTQ+ folks already proudly in federal government.”
The tweet of Wegman in uniform, posted Tuesday after the SCOTUS decision came down, has received 31K likes, 7.4K retweets, and hundreds of supportive comments, including from veterans.
I’m former Air Force, I support who you are and what you do. Thank you for bringing honor to that uniform.
I hope this shut down ends soon, but if not, I know you’ll find another way to keep soaring.
— Boy Wonder (@thatcardsharp) January 22, 2019
The trans ban would effectively fire 13,700 trans people at a time when trans people already face unemployment at three times the national rate.
According to the Williams Institute, there are 1.4 million transgender people in the United States, which means that under the trans ban, one percent of them would lose their jobs.
Wegman, who has also tweeted about the damage the partial government shutdown is having on those who aren’t being paid, said that they weren’t expecting the photo to go viral, but that they are proud to be a voice for the community.
"I did not intend to be so exposed this way, but I’m comfortable being nonbinary and proud to be a NASA intern,” Wegman said. “I’m grateful I’ve built visibility for our community and give hope to folks—both strangers and friends.”