Sometimes people think I must be pretty safe, as a trans person in a liberal city like Eugene, attending the University of Oregon. After all, don’t hate crimes happen, like, in the Deep South, and in developing countries?
…And certainly not, say, California?
Police are reporting that a 27-year-old transgender student at CSU Long Beach was slashed in a men’s room on campus earlier this month.
Although the attack took place ten days ago, the university only made it public this Friday.
The student’s assailant addressed him by name before the attack, asking him whether he was that person. The victim of the assault did not recognize his attacker, but was able to provide police with information enabling them to create a sketch.
Police have not said whether they are investigating the incident as a hate crime. The Long Beach Post has, however, reported that a Facebook entry on the incident claimed that the attacker carved the word “IT” into the victim’s chest.
The attacked student was treated for his injuries in a local hospital and released that evening.
This is the fear I live in, every day, in the back of my mind. I could walk down the wrong street, go on the wrong date, be in the wrong hallway at the wrong time, and—bam!—my lifetime of remaining mostly un-trans-bashed would end with injuries, rape, or worse.
Cis women know this fear to some extent as well, of course, given our sexist society. But when a trans man is attacked, while using the bathroom at a state school in sunny California, and the attacker carves into his chest using a knife, it’s the sort of thing that chills me to my core. We, as trans people, aren’t even safe when using the bathroom. At school. If you’re not safe at your own school when you’re only trying to pee, you’re not safe anywhere.
Even in California, the bleeding West Coast, we’re not safe.
Pray for me.
(Two notes. Number one: I couldn’t find anything saying whether or not the physical scars left by the carving would heal. I can’t think of anything more terrifying than walking around for the rest of my life with an anti-trans slur carved onto my chest. The emotional scars will take time to heal, but I certainly hope the physical scars will heal up soon.)
(Number two: Transgender Day of Remembrance records 60 deaths of trans people due to transphobic violence in the US West Coast (defined as Washington, Oregon, and California) since 1970, and that’s only what’s reported. 56 of these deaths were in California. Part of the reason I tend to think I’m safer than others is because I’m white, and I’m in college, which removes many risk factors in our prejudiced society right there. So, part of my thinking was that if a trans man whose race was unreported can be attacked at a West Coast state school, so can I, a white trans woman at a West Coast state school. I shouldn’t let my white privilege get in the way of remembering, though, that my region of the US has plenty of transphobic violence, and that an attack on any of us is an attack on all.)