“This is where I was sexually assaulted.”
On the back of a sign off University ave between Park and Center street in San Diego California.
This is the speech I did for slutwalk San Diego. This sticker is marking the place where it all went down.
I stand here today pretty fucking terrified. And not just because there are so many people out here, thats mostly amazing, but because of the potential repercussions of what I’m about to say.
I am transgendered.
I am not publicly ‘out’. My trans status, in general, remains something very private, and I choose to share it very selectively and only when I feel safe and comfortable doing so. Job discrimination is something I have personally experienced. There is a real possibility that standing here today, speaking to you, coming out publicly, may lead to me losing my job. So when the San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality asked me to speak to you today regarding sexual violence against the transgender and gender non conforming community, I knew what it meant. I would be taking a risk.
I tell you this not because I want sympathy or pity or platitudes of bravery, but because I want you to understand just how important this is to me. So often trans people are an afterthought, if a thought at all in any activist circles. We are often ignored in queer spaces, and marginalized or harassed in women’s spaces. And even if we are welcomed, intentionally or not, we are often made to feel ‘othered’. The mere opportunity to come here, and give a voice to such a disenfranchised community was more important than my fears or safety. We need to be able to tell OUR stories.
Approximately one and a half years ago, I was sexually assaulted. I was at a club with a friend, a rare thing, dancing, an even rarer thing, and having a great time. I was approached a stranger, who started to dance with me. An acquaintance of my friend supposedly.
And then it started, in a script all too familiar:
“So, whats your deal, you’re a guy right?”
“I’m sorry, was that offensive?”
“Uh… yes” I said.
“So you are, like, all girl?… down there??” With an unapologetic gaze at my crotch.
“None of your business.” I replied.
I thought it was over.
But then I felt a hand creeping towards my crotch in an obvious attempt to discern what genitals I had.
All I could think was “FUCK! someone just tried to grab my crotch… HOLY SHIT I was just sexually assaulted… by a woman!”
And I’m guessing that until that last sentence most of you were picturing a guy doing this to me. But really, we get this kind of shit from everywhere. Sadly, my story is not at all unique. I’ve heard this exact story countless times from other trans folk. This was a lesbian woman, a member of my ‘so called’ LGBT family who was perpetrating this sexual violence against me.
Man or woman, straight or gay, it mattered not. Simply being trans reduces me to a mere object. I am a sex toy. A curiosity. A sexual deviant. A fetish. A slut. My body is for public consumption. The number of people who think its acceptable to invade my privacy with their questions is mind boggling. Even the court clerk, when filing my paperwork, felt it was perfectly reasonable to ask me what my genitals looked like. I have ceased to be a person simply because I’m trans. And I’m fucking sick of it.
What happened to me that night was fucked. But what was worse was the response I received:
“Oh she was drunk”
As if that excuses her actions.
“She was curious”
So fucking what?
“She’s never met a trans person before, she didn’t know how to act.”
Try not sexually assaulting people for starters. Maybe treat them like human beings.
“She was just hitting on you. You should be flattered. She wanted you.”
As if I should just ‘take what I can get’ as a trans person since no one else will want me.
“You were being too sexual and flirtatious.”
Ironic, since I’m asexual.
“You shouldn’t have gone out to a club if you weren’t looking for sexual attention.”
Apparently dancing is not a valid reason to go out to a club. Like I said, I don’t really go to clubs often, I could be wrong here.
But the absolute worst:
“That’s what you get for wanting to be a woman…”
And that’s what this is all about: “Thats what we get…”
“That’s what you get for wanting to be a woman.” that phrase echos in my brain as a refrain that haunts me. Every time I’ve been harassed on the street, or talked down to because of my gender, or when standing in the face of blatant misogyny and sexism:
“That’s what I get for wanting to being a woman.”
Well we will NOT stand for it it.
So I come here today baring a new refrain. Hear this, loud and fucking clear:
My body is NOT public property.
Trans bodies are NOT public property.
OUR bodies are not public property!