Marched with THOUSANDS of peaceful protestors last night in Oakland. Felt so anxious and afraid at beginning, I kept clenching and unclenching my fists. But as we got moving, as I joined my voice in the chants, I began to feel stronger and more connected. I kept the straight white male friend I went with in sight at all times, feeling upticks in anxiety in the brief moments I lost him. I remembered that I do know how to cope with this daily fear of assault. Before I transitioned, people stared at me, on the street, just for looking butch, all the time. All. The. Time. Only once did that escalate into physical violence. Before I transitioned, every walk outside had me on the defensive for potential sexual assault, too. Men I’ve never met have touched my butt without even saying anything. In the first year of my transition, I shaved my head. I was living in LA and, in a moment, my experience with police vigilance changed- every cop on a street corner followed me with his eyes because I looked cholo to them. Earlier this year, I shaved my head again and have been keeping it that way because transition year 9 equals baldness. Over the last two months, I’ve been growing out my beard. Yesterday, two white men in a truck passed me. They didn’t say anything, they didn’t slow down to follow me, but the one in the passenger seat stared, turned his head to keep staring as they passed. To quote Ani Difranco, mine is a relatively easy tragedy. So many people already experience daily harassment and violence in harsher ways, and scared, angry men are accelerating. Celebrating victory like a license to kill.
But last night with THOUSANDS of peaceful protestors, I felt okay.
As we were leaving the Oakland march, we heard new chants from another direction and walked over a block to see at least a thousand students from UC Berkeley on their own march. They had walked more than 5 miles to converge with the other group in downtown Oakland. I teared up, not for the first time that night. We may be outnumbered, outgunned, outplanned, but we are here, together.