Two Fridays ago, I was headed south from Columbia Heights to the Convention Center. Shortly after I boarded, I realized a group of two girls and two guys (about 18-25 years old) were harassing a trans woman who was in the seat nearest the driver. They were calling her disgusting, telling her she should be a real man, and making guesses as to her anatomy. The leader seemed to be one of the girls who was goading the boys into ‘showing how real men act.’ They were also making threats about following her off the bus to attack her. The driver did nothing in response, nor did any passengers. After a few minutes, I finally said, “Is she bothering you? No. So leave her alone.”
At that point they turned their focus to me, telling me I had no business even being on the bus due to my race, that it was their bus and they’d do what they wanted. They then began to threaten me. I told them I didn’t care what race they were, that I didn’t want to hear discriminatory language, and that I’d do the same thing if I heard someone making racist comments about them. Things escalated at this point, with threats by one of the boys to “take off [his] belt and whip [my] ass.” Still the driver remained silent. The only action he took was at the end, when he stopped one of the boys from following me off the bus at my stop.
The next morning I sent an email to WMATA detailing the incident and encouraging them to speak to their drivers about protecting riders from such harassment. It has now been a week and I have heard nothing except for a form notice letting me know my complaint has been received. I have no idea if the woman who was their original target, who got off after me, got even the same measure of protection or if the driver allowed them to follow her off the bus to continue with the harassment and/or violence.
Location: 70 Bus
Submitted by AMS
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