An Open Letter To The Guy On The Tube; In Defence Of The Trans Woman.
Back in May, I got an a London Underground train home ready to enjoy bank holiday weekend. I witnessed something that didn’t sit right with me, and I wanted to write about it.
“Keep standing out from the crowd, because only then will the crowd start to look more like you.”
Dear fellow tube passenger,
You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. Let’s get better acquainted.
My name is Nick and, tonight, you made my blood boil.
With bank holiday Friday upon us, from before I even left work this evening, I could feel Londoners sigh in relief as the first long weekend of May set in. Everybody seemed to be having a good time, finally able to put the working week behind us. Drinks were drunk, including by myself, and as I made my way home on the Northern Line I was enjoying soaking up the happy faces of the care-free people around me.
Then, unfortunately, you came along and burst my bubble. I’d spotted you already. One drink too many, haphazardly barging past people to get a closer look at the tube map to help navigate your inebriated mind, I figured you’d just been letting your hair down as much as the rest of us. No harm in that, we should all be trying to have more fun!
But, less acceptable, was how your behaviour changed the moment you laid eyes on the woman with bright pink hair. The woman who had been quicker than you in the race for a seat. The woman who was innocently laughing with her friend next to her. And the woman who happened to be trans.
Allow me to remind you of your actions seeing as you probably won’t remember them for yourself in the morning.
I watched as your expression lightened up in a similar way to that of a cat about to toy with its prey. You attempted to mutter some words which, due to too much of a good time earlier in your evening, were not quite comprehendible. Having caught the woman’s confused, and wary, attention you offered your hand out for a handshake. A handshake not in the gesture of goodwill or greeting as they are commonly intended, but more with the sentiment of someone who was actually enjoying the angst they were instilling in another person.
Respectfully, and in a valiant effort to try and brush you off, the woman graciously extended you her hand in response before turning back to continue talking to her friend. With a grin on your face, you persisted in your attempts to antagonise this woman, who clearly wanted no part in any sort of exchange with you. She asked you not once, but numerous times, to ‘please stop talking to me’, yet still you persisted, clearly revelling in your actions, evident by the smirk on your face.
The tube then arrived at my stop and I stepped off the carriage before I had a chance to witness what happened next.
Now, some people may criticise me for not intervening if I felt so strongly about what was unfolding in front of me. But at a meagre 5’9 compared with your over 6′ frame and having never been much of a fighter, coupled with the tendency of drunk people to think with their fists before their heads, I didn’t want to hedge my bets. Clearly, neither did the smaller-than-me woman stood next to me who had also clocked your behaviour.
But as a firm believer in the power of words, this letter is my sucker punch straight to your face. And I hope it knocks some sense into you.
I can’t speak on behalf of the trans community. Indeed, nothing really gives me the authority to speak on behalf of any community. However, as an openly gay man myself, I have personally been subjected to some of the hurtful actions of other people like you; sniggers, taunts, insults, abuse and even violence. As a community, the LGBTQ+ one has had it all.
I don’t know you, and I myself find it incredibly frustrating when people cast judgement on me before getting to know me, so I won’t do that to you. But listen up, buddy. Your actions tonight were not acceptable. Are you aware of the intense psychological effects, amongst a whole realm of other things, that people can suffer as a result of feeling unaccepted? Think about the people in your own life that you care about. Would you wish that on them? I sincerely hope not. Merely moments before we got on the tube, I noticed this woman myself. What went through my head was the bravery it must take to stand up and be true to yourself, even in the face of potential stigmatisation and discrimination.
She may not feel like she belongs in a man’s body, but let me tell you, she’s got bigger balls than you’ll ever have.
So next time you see someone belonging to the trans community, or indeed any community that is not your own, remember this letter, remember the woman with the pink hair, and remember that everyone has the right to live their own life however they want to live it.
And to the woman with the pink hair, if ever you read this. Keep standing out from the crowd, because only then will the crowd start to look more like you. I’ll always have your back, in some way or another.