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Are you a boy or a girl?

24 Jan

“Are you a boy or a girl?”

I walk into a gas station convenience store, pick up my Snapple and head to the register to pay. “Good evening, Sir. How are you doing today?” I ask, with a smile on my face.  “Good, how are you?” the clerk responds.“I’m doing well” I say. He tells me my total and I hand him a $20 bill. While making my change, he keeps looking up at me. I know this look. He is trying to figure me out. My baggy clothes and fitted hat are making it hard for him to identify me.  He looks me in the eye and says “are you a boy or a girl?”. I hate this question. It makes everything awkward. “Does it matter?” I respond “I just need my change”. I can see my change in his hand. I can see the look on his face. It has quickly changed from a smile to a scary look of anger, confusion and frustration. “I need to know. Why won’t you tell me? Why are you doing this?” I shake my head, take my keys out of my pocket (just in case I have to run) and I say “What am I doing to you?” hoping he will see how ridiculous this line of questioning is. “You look like that and you won’t tell me if you’re a boy or a girl.” I look him in his eyes, snatch my change out of his hand and quickly walk to my car.

“Are you a boy or a girl?”

I am pacing in front of a public restroom again, my eyes darting back and forth between the two signs. Heart racing. Palms sweating.  Men. Women. Men. Women.  I don’t fit into either category.  A mother walks out of the side marked “Women” with her kid, so I figure this would be a good time to go in because it’s probably empty. I dart towards a stall and I see a woman standing at the sink washing her hands. I walk into the stall and latch the door. “Excuse me. Excuse me. EXCUSE ME! Are you a boy or a girl?” the woman at the sink yells. I don’t know what to say. My deep voice is only going to make the situation worse. She is now banging on the door, trying to push it open. The door is shaking in front of me. She isn’t letting up. I pull up my pants, close my belt and open the door. I rush past her and walk out of the restroom. I can hear her screaming after me. I just want to get away from the whole situation. But I still have to pee.

“Are you a boy or a girl?”

The workweek  is over. I am ready to enjoy my weekend.  I walk to the corner, raise my arm and try to hail a cab. A group of young men and women are standing on the sidewalk 10 feet away from me.  They are looking at me and laughing. I’m trying my hardest to ignore them. “Yo!” yells one of the men.” “Yo, I’m talking to you. What the fuck are you?!” I am starting to panic. I begin to walk away. “Don’t fucking walk away from me, I’m asking you something!”. I can hear his footsteps running up behind me.  He grabs my shoulder, steps in front of me. He’s pissed off. I look at his face and think “he looks like he could be my brother”.  Same skin color, same face shape, same lips and nose.  He grabs my collar with both hands and slowly says “are you a boy…or a girl?” I get myself out of his grasp and say “just leave me alone” and I turn around to walk away. I see stars when his fist knocks into the back of my head.  I turn around and begin to defend myself, but my brain and body aren’t responding the way they should. I can’t believe this is happening in broad daylight, with people all around us. As he is punching and kicking me, I can hear his friends laughing. This isn’t the first time this has happened to me but I always hope it will be the last. “Maricon!” he screams as he kicks me one last time. He picks up his backpack, joins his friends and walks off with a smile on his face. No one helped me. No one even noticed.

You don’t have the right to ask me that. It is none of your business!! Because you really don’t care about how I identify and respecting that identity. You want to know what is in between my legs and furthermore, why?? You don’t have a right to my body. You especially don’t have the right to get angry or violent because I don’t want to answer you. 

The man from the last story shattered my knee. It is a source of constant physical pain in my life and with every step I take It’s a reminder of what hate and ignorance can do. It is also a reminder that although we shared identity and community as people of color, he still hurt me. Where are we going wrong that we are making victims of the most vulnerable people in our own communities? Whether it’s sexism or transphobia/homophobia played out through hate-crimes or domestic violence, there is a problem. How are we to move forward, if we are causing pain in our own families? We are supposed to heal each other, lift each other up. And as of now, we are failing at that. 

“Although only an estimated 2 to 5% of the population is transgender, 1 in 12 Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming people will be murdered. The average life expectancy for a transgender person is 37 years old. 49% of transgender people attempt suicide. A nationwide survey of bias-motivated violence against LGBT people from 1985 to 1998 found that incidents targeting transgender people accounted for 20% of all murders and about 40% of all police-initiated violence.”- transgenderlaw.org

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 24, 2013 in Gender - there is no box!, Her stories

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 responses to “Are you a boy or a girl?

  1. rivercitymongrel

    January 25, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Reblogged this on This Mongrel Land and commented:
    I don’t think there’s anything I can really say here to appropriately preface this… I’d call it “powerful and eloquent” but even that wouldn’t do it justice.

     
  2. Gregório

    January 30, 2013 at 9:37 am

    The continued marginalization and violence against trans people is horrific. With all the progress made in the hearts and minds of Americans on gay rights, the fact that trans people have again been excluded from acceptance is tragic to say the least. The statistics noted at the end of this piece speak for themselves. I’ll never pass up an opportunity to speak up and speak out about the obstacles and violence that trans people face here in our society. My heart and support goes out to all my trans brothers and sisters out there.

     

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