A crime committed out of hate.
"Tom, next week is the conference that I mentioned to you last week."
"What conference is it?"
"íQueers Across the Landí. It will have a presentation about how life is for trans_folk. You and I really should go so we can get a perspective."
"I donít really want to go, but I guess I should."
The first discussion that we go to is on lives of trans_folk. To sits in the room. It is packed. It is also hot. There are way too many people in this room. There are also not enough chairs for everyone.
"Hello we are going to start. This will be a discussion. These people seated in this circle are going to answer questions that are asked by me, lets begin."
Tom tightens his muscles. His breathing quickens. I put my hand on his neck. I am slowly massaging it. He doesnít really calm down. I donít really see why he is so freaked.
The first question is asked, "What are fears of yours as a trans person?"
A male identified person responds, "I fear the most that identity as a man will be revealed. I i. d. as a male. I look like a male. I am able to bind well enough that I donít have trouble. One problem that I have is that my voice is high. The main problem is that I asked people to call me "he" halfway through last year, halfway into my residency. Meanwhile I work in a clinic on the east side. The problem is I fear and this has happened before is that a superior will call me by my female name. This has happened. The patient looked at me weirdly and I was in shock."
I take this in. I never considered this problem before. To me I have always been female. Ya, I changed my name or shortened it, but that was a small change. I glance over to Tom, he is very quiet. He seems like he is dead because of the way he is looking.
Female identified person also answers this question. "I fear what will happen to me in the restroom. Most people donít think about what restroom they use. Us trans_folk have issues when we have to decide what restroom we are going to use. For my brother it is worse.
I have to deal with women who call security when I use the womenís restroom. They shriek and run out of the bathroom. Then security comes and I am told that I can'í be in there. I try to argue, but I lose.
I start fearing about what will happen to Tom. I am going to have to be protective of him.
The last man says, " I canít fight. I live in a rough neighborhood. Really I canít. I never have been able to. I have this high pitch voice, if you havenít noticed? The problem with this is that I am a prime target. I play pool in bars. Many of the people there are wasted. Every night there is a fight. I have been in one or two of them. If I am not fighting, men stare at me and look me over. If they hear me talk I get called a faggot because of my voice. I always have to watch my back."
The night ends. I put my arm around Tom and squeeze him and say, "Lets go."
He nods his head. He is quiet. I am concerned because he is too quiet I feel. I want to talk about it, but he doesnít seem to answer.
As we drive home I try to pry some answers from him.
"What is wrong? Did you really get that shakened up? Are you scared of what may happen to you?"
"You donít understand. You never will unless you are in my spot. I go to bars you know that. I rock at pool. People donít want to mess with me. . . ."
"That is good. Why do you say that in a concerned voice?"
"Dammit I canít fight! Once I start "T" I will sound like a pip squeak. It is one thing to be a butch dyke. People accept it. But when I really start transitioning I am going to have to watch my back. The men who hang in the bars that I frequent are rednecks OK? They will think I am a freak. They were talking about the death of Brandon Tina, you know the transgendered person who was killed?"
"They were saying that he should have been killed! The men called him a freak!"
"You shouldnít hang around people who think like that."
"It isnít as easy as that. I have to watch my back wherever I go.I want to use the menís restroom. I have said that before. I canít urinate standing up. I have tried. That is why there was that mess in the bathroom. I know I hated cleaning it up. There are only so many stalls in the menís bathroom. Men are going to look at me weirdly if I stand waiting for a stall to free up when there is a free urinal."
Have I ever thought about this no. Tom is in a mood where he is very frustrated with his gender. I once again wish I had medicine to give to him. We remain quiet the rest of the way home. I donít know what else to say. I donít know what else to do. Well I guess I can ask what my therapist recommends.
I am cooking dinner when Tom comes home. I drop my jaw when I see his face.
"My baby what happened?"
"I was using the bathroom at the mall. I was at the mall to by a shirt. I decided that I would use the menís restroom. I asked myself, "What can happen?" and what do you think happened?"
"I was called a freak by this heavy set guy. I was washing my hands and almost made it out when he comes in and looks me over. He is like, "What are you doing in here you freak?" So I end up running out of the bathroom and to the safety of my car. But that didnít stop him. He chased me to my car. When I got to my car he was right behind me. He punched my face when he grabbed me from behind and my back hit the car. He left me there and walked off."
I came towards him and put him in a bear hug. I went to the freezer and make him an ice pack. He goes over to the couch and I walk over there to try to soothe his mind.
" I am sorry. I donít know what to say. I could lecture, but I think you learned what can happen. Promise that you will stay away from the menís bathroom until. . . until I donít know when but be careful.
"Have you reported this to the police?"
"No I havenít. I forgot about it. They wonít care. They will think I am a freak. FUCK I am a freak! People want to kill me. Just this week a trans_woman was bludgeoned to death. Bludgeoned to death in Hilsboro. That is in one county over, Washington County. That is part of the metropolitan area of Portland. FUCK it could have been in Portland. Portland is queer friendly, but it is hard to believe that one county can be so different."
"We have hate crime ordinances remember? Remember when that dyke was harassed and it made it on the news because of the lawsuit. She won the case and the man was reprehended. So why donít we report it?"
"OK I will call."
The police wrote it up and said that they would keep an eye out for possible trouble in the future.
I serve Tom dinner. He takes a bite and says his jaw hurts too much. I put the food in the refrigerator and do clean up.
"Do you know the song that I play all the time? I want to be a man because of that. It isnít just the issue with the restroom. Being a man has nothing to do with power. To me it really has to do with looks. I want a 6 pack. I have always wanted it."
"And I want the monster truck."
"No I am serious!"
We spend the night reminiscing about what we want to do with our lives if we had the choice.