Despicable

I’m so upset right now. I marched straight home and fired up my laptop and now I’m sitting in front of it and I don’t know where to start. This is despicable.

I just got back to my apartment after taking the subway home, like I always do. As I walked down a busy street away from the train station, I noticed, up ahead and on the other side of the street, a stunning trans woman strutting along to the beat of the music playing on her headphones. She was swaying her hips and really working the sidewalk like it was a runway. She was smiling and being generally friendly to everyone who passed by. I smiled to myself and kept walking. Friendliness is such an under-seen and underappreciated quality in New York.

Then I found myself enveloped in, and eventually passed by, a group of young men. I was listening to my own music (The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack, if you must know, because it is great) so I didn’t hear their conversation, but it was loud and expressive. I thought nothing of it, this being Friday evening and people’s spirits being high.

But then I noticed a few people on my side of the street staring very blatantly at the woman across the street. Mouths agape. Well, ok, she was being rather flamboyant, waving and strutting and all. But I started to tune into what was going on around me a bit more. Soon I was overtaken by two men in business-appropriate attire. One was older, probably mid-forties, and the other was in his early twenties, I’d guess. I still had my music on, but they were talking loudly enough that I could hear snippets: “Disgusting… Faggot…”

I was amazed. They were pointing and staring at her. She was like a block away and across the street, and somehow she was bothering them? I turned off my music, just in time to hear the older man say, “And that’s why this country is going to hell in a handbasket.” They were nodding and pointing. I tried to keep up with them so I could hear what they were saying, but I had a heavy bag and couldn’t quite get close enough.

At one point they noticed me behind them and turned around. I stared at them, just appalled. There were so many thoughts going through my head that I couldn’t even pick one to articulate. I wanted to ask them what she had done to them that made them so upset. How had she damaged them? Were they jealous of her ability to walk in heels? Was there a problem with her manicure that offended them? I could have even pointed out their own several, and egregious, sins against fashion (“Let’s talk about your pants, sir, and then we can discuss her cutoffs.”).

But just then she came out of the Walgreens directly across the street. From where I was standing I could see her smiling at everyone who passed her. She was radiating peace of mind and happiness. And here were these two assholes, who apparently think that the reason our country is going to hell is because people are allowed to express themselves… not because other people are tightly-puckered assholes who are morally outraged by people expressing themselves harmlessly and beautifully. The younger one muttered something along the lines of, “fucking disgusting” while he pointed at her. As if she should be the object of everyone’s consternation and contempt. She, who was brightening up the day with her joy. Not him, who was casting aspersions and judgment and ugliness. Or the group of young men from before, who were stopped in their tracks, turned around, staring at this woman with more cajones than any of them will ever have. As if it’s not bad enough that people are killing each other and their planet for no good reason. As if we don’t have bigger things to worry about than whether someone with a penis and broad shoulders chooses to wear heels out of the house.

I wish I’d known what to say. I wish I’d said something. I wish people weren’t so shitty. But most of all, I hope that woman has an awesome fucking night.

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