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Dear Man sitting in the back seat of the pickup truck passing me by,
I was walking to a poetry reading, listening to wonderful music, feeling the best I had felt all day when you yelled at me. Not that you would know any of this, as our contact was brief. Not that you would care, as you seemed uninterested in me a a human being, but that’s what I was doing. I couldn’t help but immediately wonder if you had yelled because of my leggings, or had just been more inclined to pick me because I was walking fast. I then spent the rest of my walk wondering if I was going to run into you again and thinking that my shadow was the shadow of someone following. I did not smile again until I had walked two blocks away and changed songs. Whatever thought crossed your mind when you shouted out of the window at me, I hope was worthy of ruining five minutes of my day and making me generally uncomfortable. Next time, just keep your head in the window and your thoughts to yourself.
I got harassed twice this morning, walking to my new favorite local coffee shop before catching the bus to work. I was not even dressed or acting sexually provocatively. Given I am a transgender woman, I personally feel I get a different type of street harassment.
Today, as I was approaching an intersection, a car stopped. He had his window rolled down and just waited for me to approach. He wasn’t on his phone (as in responding to a text message) or anything and there wasn’t any cars around. He started flirting with me and asking how I was doing. Thankfully, a car came up and he had to proceed. I didn’t say anything, as I usually do.
The second incident happened after the coffee shop visit. I was waiting at another intersection, an intersection with a traffic light, and this guy slows down with his window rolled down, and started to whistle at me and said, “I’d like to f— your tranny ass.”
While I am going to accept that I am very bothered by what happened, I am not going to let it stop me from being who I am or walking in my own neighborhood. I am not going to let them win. I am a strong woman.
I’m technically male but am more comfortable by dressing to look androginous and/or more female. I wasn’t dressed as a girl exactly, but while walking to my flat a guy who was perhaps in his mid 60’s, who was just standing there doing nothing, grabbed me and felt my private parts through my trousers quite thoroughly. As I looked at him in horror, he nodded, grinned and said “just checking.” I ran and called the Police. They came down and interviewed me. They then asked me what I was “expecting them to do about it.” I was very upset but I managed to ask them to press charges. They refused and just left. They weren’t rude to me,but he was still out there later. I just feel so vulnerable and powerless as if the Police won’t help me, what can I do? I’m still trying to work out who I am and how I feel and this has really set me back and hurt me. Why did he feel to need to check me like that?
We shouldn’t have to live in fear of going for a simple walk or jog, but many people do. A walk can quickly turn into being sexually harassed ten times in all of twenty minutes. This harassment would not be acceptable if it was done within the walls of a classroom, or a place of business. But for some reason, many people consider it acceptable when it is done from a car or on the street. The victim, always a stranger. Always someone minding their own business. Always a person who simply wants to get their morning exercise done, or reach their destination to buy lunch for themselves. And when they try to recount their experience, they are often told to suck it up, or that it was probably just what they were wearing. Or – perhaps worst of all – that they should take it as a ‘compliment’.
The first time I experienced street harassment, I was only twelve years old. Think about that for a moment. Twelve. Years. Old. I was not yet old enough to understand that I was more developed than most of my other twelve year old friends. I seldom wear skirts now, because I identify as transgender. Back then, I tried to deny my identity and I tried as hard as I could to be normal. To ‘fit in’. I borrowed a mini skirt from my friend who was less curvy than me, and I wore it. I wore it with the matching top. I was more filled out, too, but I never noticed. I didn’t notice until adult men – read that again. Adult. Men. Slowed down long enough to call me a slut. I was twelve. I did not even know what the word meant, but I quickly found out. One would think my refusal to wear skirts has to do with my gender identity, but it actually has more to do with that day.
That was only the beginning of many years of street harassment. I wish I could say it has gotten better, but it has only gotten worse. Within the past year, I have taken up exercising. I want to be healthier. So, I walk daily. Sometimes, for an hour a day. Sometimes, more. It all depends on how busy or not busy my day is. Living where I do, it is hard to avoid walking on the main streets. I am literally harassed – on average – three to five times a day. There are some days where that number is easily ten, depending on how busy traffic is. The harassment ranges from honking (which is mostly just an annoyance – I startle very easily and do not appreciate being ‘honked’ at), to having kisses blown at me (degrading and rude), to having words shouted at me (which I can never hear regardless), to downright obvious harassment (such as being offered a ride by a creepy man at LEAST thirty years my senior [I am only 23, and I am often told I look even younger], to being asked ‘Yo, girl, how old are you?’, to being questioned about my sexuality, and on the worst days even rape threats when I ignore my harasser). I used to just keep walking, and take it in stride.
I realized that doing so just gives them permission to keep doing it. I realized that if I didn’t stand up for myself, I was teaching these men (and occasionally women, too) that it was okay to harass me. That calling me sexy, whore, or making humping gestures at me is ‘okay’. But when I was walking home from college, and a group of at least six men were following me, asking me how old I was… I realized that it is NOT okay. It was terrifying to me. It is annoying, and it makes exercising hard. So, I have started to take a stand. When a friend honked at a pretty woman, I asked him why. He explained that he thought it would make her feel good. When I explained that, often, the only thing it does is scare us or annoy us… he was honestly surprised. Education is imperative. As many of these people don’t really mean harm. Then again, there are many more that do. And when we experience harassment daily, we can never tell the difference.
The other day, I was walking home from the Kangaroo after just filling my Roo cup, and an older man in a white truck honked at me. I ignored him. But when I crossed the highway, I caught him from the corner of my eye turning around to chase me down. This happens a lot, and is downright terrifying. So, I assessed my situation. I had two paths I could take. One down the business area, where there were bound to be people around. One down a hill, with a forest on one side and houses on the other. I took the safer route, the business area. He honked again, stopping. And this time, I stood up for myself. I pulled my cell out, a way of letting him know I wasn’t afraid to call for help if I needed to and I firmly told him to leave me alone. When he drove away, and I kept walking I felt a surge of fear, but this time it was coupled with a surge of pride. We don’t have to put up with street harassment. But as long as people behave as though it is acceptable, people will believe it is.
Also, I am transgender. I wear traditionally men’s clothes most of the time (and only wear women’s clothes maybe once a month). So I dare anyone to tell me ‘It’s probably because of how you dress.’ I dare them.
A couple of years ago I was walking through my high school when someone, dressed in uniform I may add, grabbed my butt from behind. I was speechless and felt hurt and degraded. I looked back only to see the man who wasn’t even a student with a smirk on face, like he was proud of what he did or felt it was his right to do so. Ugh! Disgusting.
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.
Walking my dog at night while talking to a friend on the phone, I heard someone behind me getting closer. He kept saying “girl, girl slow down” and “common don’t be that way.”
I didn’t think he was talking to me because I am a post transition trans man with facial hair, and I was in deep conversation. My dog stopped to smell something and I saw the shadow of his hand reaching toward my ass. He was only a foot away. I turned around, looked him in the eye, and said loudly, “Hey!” He pulled his hand back, and I started walking away quickly trying to get to the well-lit 300 N.
I informed my friend on the phone of the situation, where I was, and gave a description of the dude…He continued following me shouting, “Hey it, hey he-she, I got something for your mouth.”
He followed me for 8 blocks turning where I turned and ducking behind bushes so I couldn’t see him then popping out and cat calling again. I kept my friend on the phone with location updates until I turned a sharp corner and hid in an apartment complex until he went by so I could get home.
I am so grateful for my friends at Hollaback! Baltimore who taught me things to do in these situations because this could have turned out much worse. I’m still shaken but I decided to post on here right away so others in Salt Lake City could be aware in this part of town at 11pm.
Dude description: white dude ,skinny , guessing 5’8 ish, patchy mustache and chin hair, buzzed head and a neck tat of words.
saturday 17 march 2014
A man came to me and proposed to me a bag of candy. He had a scary face. I didn’t accept it because the man was strange . I walked and he follow me but I went into a coffee shop and ordered a drink and saw the man in the window
I was very afraid to be in the street alone at night.
I was on the tube when I noticed a man eyeing me up, he was attractive so I didn’t mind. I got off the tube and noticed him following me. Later I noticed him playing with himself from afar. I walked faster until I couldn’t see him anymore but not being familiar with the area meant that he had cornered me to say “stop teasing me.”
I heard a lady asking if I knew this man. I told her “no” and watched her expertly tell him to leave me alone and said she was not going to let him get away with this harassment and saw him run away with fear as she stood her ground.
Funnily enough I already knew of Ana Maddock. I knew she was well educated, had a career she kept private from her online life, she was friends with a semi-famous crowd. I already wanted to be like her before she saved me. She saved a complete stranger from being harassed and went on with her day to day life and I think that’s astonishing.
Thank you Ana Karina Maddock.
You did what I could only dream of doing.
I was with a group of friends and this girl referred to my other friend using “it”. It turned out this friend might be trans and the friend knew that when she said what she said.