On a trip that is a summer ritual for many, going down to the local store to pick up ice for your BBQ, my luck had changed. When you attack me it is one thing, but when you attack someone I care about it’s another. I have been living in some way as myself for the past 10 years and in that time I have not had a really bad experience. I know I have been lucky in that regard. Working as a journalist, I am all too aware of the issues we face as transgender people in this county.
On a trip that is a summer ritual for many, going down to the local store to pick up ice for your BBQ, my luck had changed. I entered the store where someone who I care about as part of my family like a sister was working at the counter. We said our hellos, and I got my 5 bags of ice. I noticed another person behind the counter, but I did not think anything of her as I completed my business. I told my friend I would see her in a few as the BBQ was at her family home and went on my way.
That’s when the person, who I did not think that much about when I saw her behind the counter, made her first comment. She asked my friend “What is it?” while referring to me. My friend proceeded to tell her that I was a woman, after which her coworker suggested that “I should work on my voice.” Both comments revealing a not so shocking attitude that we happen to see all over the country.
"SHE TRIED TO EXPLAIN HOW HURTFUL HER COMMENTS WERE, TO WHICH AN ARGUMENT ENSUED WITH MY FRIEND DEFENDING ME."
I was not present for the comments, but my friend who works there was, and without missing a beat she confronted the person. She tried to explain how hurtful her comments were, to which an argument ensued with my friend defending me. For all of us as at that moment, the transgender fight against hate was centered in that gas station minimart. My friend was threatened with physical harm from this person as she commented that she was not educated. As if that is a defense for her attack upon me. I am sorry that is not a defense, and you don’t get a pass on that.
I am a big girl and I would like to say that she did not hurt me, but that is far from the truth. It did deeply. She messed with someone I care about. She attacked me for being the person I was born to be.
Hateful people are all too common in this world, and in the last few years, more people feel empowered to say anything they want. The current feeling and political climate out here has people showing their true colors. I don’t know why this person thought it was ok to say what she did, especially since she was aware that my friend, whom she was fighting with, has a mother who is transgender. Still she went there, and true to the person she is, my friend would not let her words go without saying anything.
“WHAT KIND OF WORLD ARE WE CREATING IF SOMEONE HAS TO WORRY ABOUT GOING TO THE STORE FOR SOMETHING AS SIMPLE AS ICE FOR A BBQ?”
What hurt me more was not the attack on myself, but the attack on my friend. When I was driving down to the store, I did worry about my presence causing a problem for my friend as I was coming to her workplace. You never know what may happen, but I thought I was just overthinking things. It is something I am used to doing on epic levels. What kind of world are we creating if someone has to worry about going to the store for something as simple as ice for a BBQ? I don’t want to get into a debate over who in our country’s leadership is responsible, because we are all responsible.
I used twitter to complain to the company that owns the store, tweeting about the incident and asking why are they were allowing this to happen in one of their stores. They responded with concern and they are contacting the management of the store. My friend and her parents are also contacting the HR department and the store’s district mangers. But it should not come to that. It should not have happened in the first place. There should be training for employees on how to deal with the LGBTQ+ Community. Just think about it. If everyone took the time to get “educated” on how to treat others who were “different” from themselves, then the world would be a better place for all of us.
Out of all of this, one good thing did happen for me. Someone cared about me enough to put herself out there and fight for me. It is something that I haven’t experienced before. It was and still is a good feeling. I like to make everyone think that I have it all together, and that nothing ever gets to me. That’s not true. Inside, I am just as scared and confused as anyone. I have thought about my voice and the way it sounds. The events this past weekend brought all that up for me, but I can’t change my voice, and I can’t change what happened as much as I wish that I could. But maybe, just maybe, we can “educate” a person whom by her own words proved that as far as we may have come, we still have a long way to go.