Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
Just for context, I’m a trans woman, socially transitioned but very early in medical transition. Although I don’t like the term, I ‘pass’ some of the time, but have tended to get the most harassment/unpleasant comments on public transport, where I’m stuck in close proximity with a group of other people for a while. I’ve had a few incidents this year – several unpleasant comments, and one case where I got followed off the train by someone – but this is the first incident that really shook me.
I was sitting on a central line train to Bank at around 6:50pm, when a group of three men got on next to me – one sat down next to me, while the others stood around him. At first, they were just snickering among themselves, and I didn’t really notice what they were talking about – I’ve felt safest by simply ignoring people in the past, and so generally just listen to a story or music on my headphones. After a while, though, they began to talk more loudly, pointing at me, making ‘jerking off’ motions, and leering at me. I couldn’t get the gist of what they were saying – I think they were speaking in Italian? – but I got a strong impression from their body language and from little I understood that they were making mocking/sexualised remarks against me. I hope that mentioning this is in line with Hollaback’s anti-discrimination policy – I appreciate why this exists, but think this is worth mentioning because it helps explain why I didn’t want to react to what they were doing at this stage, either in terms of confronting them or trying to move down the crowded train – I was scared of confronting them in any case, and, if they hadn’t been discussing me, I’d have felt really embarrassed and self conscious, and perhaps would have caused them to actually start harassing me. I’m a fairly small person, and react quite badly to this kind of physical situation, and so continued to pretend it wasn’t happening.
After this had gone on for a few minutes, they began to talk directly to me (in English), asking me ‘what’s under your skirt’ and telling me to ‘go home with them, and they’d show me a good time’. I didn’t respond or acknowledge them, and had my headphones on to try to block them out, but rather than losing interest, they got a bit more aggressive, asking if I was a ‘perv’ and a ‘ladyguy’ – still trying to proposition me, but in a more demeaning and unpleasant manner. I felt uncomfortable and unsafe at this point, because I was stuck next to them by the rush hour crowd, two of them were standing over me, and none of the other passengers had given any impression that they had heard anything the matter. Finally, the train arrived at Bank, where I got off and they stayed on the train, but as I stood up, one of the two standing guys grabbed and squeezed my crotch area through my skirt. Especially in light of their earlier comments, this made me feel really uncomfortable – I was really worried by the way they kept alternating between sexual harassment and transphobia – but was also really bad for my dysphoria, because I feel really awful about my genitalia and don’t want strangers (or anyone for that matter) grabbing/outing me.
This happened two weeks ago (16/7/14), and I’ve been mulling over whether or not I wanted to do anything about this. On the one hand, it was really upsetting, and I want to do something about it – this isn’t the first time something like this has happened, but it’s been the first time someone’s actually tried to physically rather than verbally harass me – but on the other, the strain of transitioning hasn’t really left me with many emotional resources to pursue this. Having to jump through a million hope with gatekeepers etc., going out every day in a body I hate being read by most people as a ‘confused weirdo’ (at best) has really exhausted me, and I don’t want to have to go through all the strain of pushing BTP to do much about it.
I wanted to join a charity 5 mile walk on a Saturday at 10:30am. But I worked night shift the night before. After talking to the charity I decided that I would get out of work at 7:30am, drive home and walk as soon as I got home. I made it into town and a car carrying two young men. When they drove by the one hollered ” Cheese hog! “. I was overweight at the time. They had no idea that I was walking for charity alone after working a twelve hour night shift as a nurse. I was humiliated.
First let me say I have a boyfriend whom I love. The attention he gives me is pure and kind and he’s wonderful. However, attention from anyone but him makes me feel extremely uncomfortable and dirty.
The other day, I was biking home from my job and was almost home when a car full of guys slows down as it drives past me. They start to call out to me and whistle and hollar out things like “hottie! Over here!” They were waving me over with their arms. I was so confused because I didn’t understand why they thought that would work! I got home not long after and I couldn’t get out of my head feelings of guilt and sadness. I felt dirty and like I was a slut… Even though I hadn’t done anything wrong! I’m sick of feeling like an object males think they can pick up and use.
I once asked a boyfriend why guys whistle at girls and he said because they are cowards and don’t have the guts to ask the girl out.
I repeated the same to a guy in a truck once who so sleazily whistled at me. I stepped up onto the stairs of his truck, told him what my guy said and he was humiliated…. LMFAO.
R.E.S.P.E.C.T… find out what it means to me …
During my “year out” backpacking through Europe, I left the hostel with a daypack and was strolling down the street where food and things were for sale. I was eating a banana (my breakfast) and 2 Mid-Eastern men said (in fractured English for my benefit), “She’s so fat, she eats a banana.”
Well, not only was it ignorant of my situation, but that they said it so I’d understand it infuriated me. But I pretended I didn’t hear and continued on my way. It still bothers me even though I ended up losing almost 90 pounds during that year, just by walking everywhere and eating healthy “picnic-style” for most of my meals.
I was going for my 5pm run. I walked passed a guy in his mid 30s, he asked me “When will I see you again”. I gave him that disgusted look. It seems that he didn’t get the point.
While I was out for a run around 4pm, I decided to cross the street at a crosswalk so that I could run on the nearby college campus (less cars, less people, sources for water). When the it was my turn to cross the street, a large SUV started creeping into the path of the crosswalk. I turned to give them a dirty look because I wanted to convey that I thought it was unsafe to be creeping into the crosswalk towards pedestrians. When I turned, they rolled their window down, whistled at me and made a kissy face. I just shook my head and took off running. It made me question my decision to wear a tank top and spandex workout pants. But I am wearing those things for comfort, not to have my body judged. I was just out for a run for my own personal health and I did not want any sort of attention.I hate that is how it made me feel: that I disliked being outside or made me reconsider what clothes I was wearing.
I was walking from my apartment late one morning to get to class. It’s a 10 minute walk from my front door to my desk. That day, I was slumming really hard, I don’t care what I look like for a 10 am algebra class: black gym shorts, grubby t shirt. My apartment is on the corner of the intersection. I was about halfway through the intersection when a car suddenly turned left onto the street I am crossing. The driver stopped his car right in my path.
“Where you goin looking like that, you wanna come with me?”
When confronted, my first instinct is to become combative, and this was no different. I screamed at him: “get your f*cking car out of my way, it’s none of your business where I’m going.”
“Aw baby you ain’t got to be like that,” he said as he pulled away.
Ok, dude, you ain’t got to block my path with your whole entire CAR as I’m walking to class. I don’t CARE how short my shorts are.
And this is but a single instance. Where my neighbors were protective and kind, the men who hang out at the corner store were vocal enough about harassing my roommate and I that we began to take a different route to leave the neighborhood. Getting on my bike was impossible without some dude saying something to me. Young teenagers half my age would hit on me on the street, in this neighborhood, street harassment is par for the course.
I got to the gym every week day morning at around 6AM. I can say that I’ve never had issues before at this particular gym…I just put my headphones in, lift, run, and leave. No one has ever bothered me before. This morning, the sun was shining through the windows and I could barely see while putting away my free weights. Now, I do have blue eyes and when the sun hits them, they can look very light blue. A man lifting weights next to me said, “You’re eyes are beautiful!”
I replied with, “Thank you.” and continued to choose weights and go back to lifting. But before I could he said, “What are you doing lifting here? You know a man loves him a girl with blonde hair and blue eyes.”
I was repulsed and didn’t know what to say. So I put my headphones back in, smiled, and started to walk away.
Then he said, “You got a man?”
I replied, “Yes.”
He said, “Is he here? You lookin for a man.”
the entire time his eyes just scanning me up and down. It was SO uncomfortable.
I put my weights away and walk to the other side of the gym to get away from him. About three minutes later, he’s at the machine next to me! Still looking at me and making comments.
I decide to just go to a treadmill surrounded by people and run. I felt so uncomfortable that I left the gym after about 15 minutes of running.
You would think that would be all. There is a grocery store next to my gym that I frequent and I needed to pick up a few things. I went directly from the gym to the store to pick up coffee beans, Milk, and a protein bar. Within 5 minutes of being in the store, I see the man again in the store! I quickly grab my things and walk out.
This was absolutely inappropriate, made me feel so uncomfortable, and frankly, unsafe.
It’s not a compliment. It’s harassment.
Group of ~10 guys in the city park drinking, one of which is making a point to go out of his way to come up to women and shake hands or give high fives.
I sit down to eat my sandwich, and there he comes (I think he missed me on the way in because he was busy bothering someone else).
“Gibberish gibberish (in Dutch)”
“I don’t speak Dutch”
“Hello, will you shake my hand please?”
“No thank you”
“What? Please? Everyone else has.”
“No thank you.”
“Are you a friendly person?”
“Please leave me alone.”
Offers fist pound. “This is all I want then I’ll leave you alone.”
“You can leave me alone right now.”
He gives a look of disbelief but departs.
~15 minutes later, another member of the group comes up. He says hello and offers me some food. I say no thank you. He says “What do you want?” He says this to me. I say “I want to be left in peace to eat my lunch.”
~15 minutes later I walk past the entire group, as they are near the entrance. I hear in English “I like that one, but she’s very impolite.”
Kept on walking. Desire was to eat in peace and not be wheedled, whined, shamed, or harassed into interacting with anyone I didn’t feel like interacting with. My free will and desire is not negotiable.