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A Post Malone Look Alike Harassed Me
And I need to share the burden
Every morning I leave as the sun is rising. I take in the cool, end-of-night air and welcome the mystery the morning brings. It’s my favorite version of New York City. Most everyone is getting ready for their day or recovering from the previous one. Whenever I want to leave New York, I think about that feeling and decide to stay. There’s nothing like it.
One morning, this week, I walked out of my apartment and headed toward my tiny office-slash-gym space. There are usually cars parked outside, waiting for their next Uber notification. We usually don’t bother each other.
This time was different. I noticed–one of the cars started to move as I passed it—matching my pace. The passenger side window lowered and a person who resembled Post Malone appeared. “Hey. I want to talk to you”, he said. He started to gesture, with his hand, for me to sit in his passenger seat.
I sometimes teach self-defense classes to trans people. It was time to use what I teach. Put as much distance between myself and my opponent as possible, don’t count on the police or bystanders to help, and lose the fight to win the day. And NEVER, EVER go to a second location. I did just that.
Check. There were parked cars and electrical poles between him and I. Don’t count on anyone. Check. But I did head towards places with people. Any little bit helps. No second location. Check. If I could help it, he would have a very bad day if he tried to get me in that car.
Staring at me while driving. Catcalling. Everything he could do from his driver’s seat. In an attempt to de-escalate I chose not to ignore him or tell him off, which would be the typical reaction. I was alone and it was still dark. Instead, I looked at him, shrugged, and walked away. The smallest reactions are usually met with small responses. I hoped he would assume I didn’t speak English or had a cognitive problem.
I continued walking and he continued to follow. I sped up my pace and ignored him. “Hey. HEY!”, he said. His tone started to intensify. I could smell the smoke coming out of his window. He was on something. I turned the corner down a one-way street–against traffic. He looked visibly upset that he couldn’t follow me anymore.
I sighed a breath of relief.
I scanned my outfit. Is this guy clocking me? I was wearing sweatpants, an oversized denim jacket, orange crocs, and a rainbow tote that read ‘MAKE AMERICA GAY AGAIN’. I’m not sure what this guy thought he was going to get out of me. If he was mistaking me for cis, I clearly look like a mom before coffee. If he read me as trans, I doubt there was enough of me visible under all the giant clothes for him to sexualize.
I made sure to walk against the direction of traffic down one-way roads. I started to feel comfortable again and fell back into my morning meditation until I heard, “HEY! I JUST WANT TO TALK TO YOU.”
He found me again.
He stopped his car and started to drive in reverse on the one-way street–matching my pace. “HEY! I JUST WANT TO TAL–”, he said. He was interrupted by a bread truck that forced him to put his car back in drive. This was serious. He was feeling embarrassed by my escape and his rejection. An unhinged white guy is nothing to fuck with. Especially for a trans woman of color, like myself.
I walked as fast as I could around another corner, scanning the streets for his car. He would most definitely be looking for me after being humiliated. I started to scan my bag for weapons. No pepper spray today. All I had was my endurance, my ability to run, and my martial arts background. As I reached the street my office was on, there he was. Driving up on me. I backpedaled into a doorway and hid in a shadow. I watched as his car passed by. Now I was the one who was humiliated.
After everything I’ve been through. Everything I've accomplished and overcome. There I was. Scurrying away in a dark corner. Defeated by some smelly, would-be, frontman from a Post Malone tribute concert, in a hot-boxed sedan. I was losing the fight to win the day.
This story isn't a fun one to write so I know it isn’t a fun one to read. But it’s an important story to tell. I need to share the burden of this humiliation. I need to share my reality, being at the bottom of the food chain. The last category. Trans-femme. I have no reason to share this with you other than my selfish need for a witness.
Thanks for being that for me, today.