As published on The Montreal Gazette's website:
So I was biking home from the beach in my pink speedo – just my pink speedo – when a man traveling in the opposite direction whizzed past me. I like to daydream to myself on these little excursions and probably wouldn't have noticed him had he not gasped “Wow!” while passing me by.
He did it like a kid on Christmas morning. No doubt he thought I was a topless woman – you know, a woman with a vagina. With my long blonde hair, amazonian physique, and reasonably pretty face it's not that difficult a mistake to make. I do live as a woman most of the time. But, as I explained last time, not when I'm swimming. When I swim I'm just plain male.
I was startled by this stranger's exclamation but decided to ignore it. It didn't really matter. But then, he came back. He caught up to me by turning his bike around and racing after me at top speed.
“Wow! That's beautiful!” He gushed, giddily unaware of how awkward all of this was. “That's amazing! You being naked and all! It's beautiful! Really beautiful!”
Today we identify this sort of behavior as street harassment. It's been a hot issue on social media lately as several feminists have launched into some very clever campaigns against it. To me it goes without saying that a man shouldn't interrupt a woman's day just to interrogate her for sex.
But then, not many males are in a position to have lecherous men chasing them down like this. Ontario is one of the few places in North America where a woman could legally go topless. Why they don't should be obvious by this point. Believe me, having a guy do this to you when you're half naked is scary.
All I really wanted was to get rid of this guy, so, I opted for the nuclear option.
“I'm a guy!” I finally declared, butching my voice up for show (according to my fiance I usually speak with something of a gay twang.)
It's amazing how something as simple as being identified as a man can be so decisive in warding off this kind of unwanted attention. Male privilege, I suppose. But then, while I might have been in the clear as far as street harassment goes, I wasn't out of the woods yet for being tranny-bashed.
“You're a guy!?” My stalker roared, his bizarre affections suddenly flaring up into a violent fury “Get the fuck out of here!” He stopped his bike just ahead of me and, for a moment, I was terrified.
Had I just gotten myself into a fight? Transwomen get killed over this sort of thing. Luckily he was just turning himself around, but I was so flustered I decided cut my ride short and retreated home.
I don't get it. This guy had chased me down and invaded my personal space just to ogle me like a piece of meat. That he should feel wronged simply because I failed to live up to his standards of sexual titillation is beyond me.
The worst part of street harassment, for me, will always be the fear of ending up another name at a Trans Day of Remembrance service. Still, I have chosen to be very out about what I am because what I fear most is that if people like me remain invisible things will never get better for us.
When my girlfriend got home and I told her this story, we both got to wondering, “What would happen if your average woman used the 'I'm a guy' line?” Its certainly effective. You know, sometimes men will even apologize if they start to hit on you and realize you're a guy – as if only a man would find this kind of unwanted attention insulting.
She wants to try the line next time she gets hit on. If they doubt her she can just claim to have gotten on hormones early. If I'm there (as I sometimes am) I'm totally interjecting in a big manly voice, “Hey! Are you hitting on my boyfriend?” I'm interested to see how this little social experiment plays out. Anyone else tried it? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.