This was the first time I was aware of open discrimination against me. This happened today. I will briefly describe what happen, how I responded, and what I thought about it after.
I was in a grocery store going past the aisles and a group of 4 kids (from about 6 to 12) laughed as I turned into the aisle after the one they were at the end of. Now granted they could have been laughing at something else, but they were looking at me, and tried to repress their laughter when I looked at them.
I continued on my way down the aisle when I got the notion to come back around and ask them, “would you like to laugh again?” I was thinking they should not be able to get away with laughing at someone who looks different without being confronted in some way. I could have made a serious mistake. Evidently they were all siblings and as I blurted this out I saw their mother, but it was too late. The mother said, “what”; I said back, “nothing,” and went on my way down the aisle.
My first thought after this incident was am I going to be safe. I admit I was to hasty in my decision to confront. I did not think their mother might be around and at least wait to see if they were alone. But the act was done. I had wanted to take the time in the store to do some walking, but decided to nix it and finish up my shopping just in case I was to be confronted. Who knows whether she had a boyfriend or a husband handy. I finished up my business and walked home. No further incidence happen and I was relieved.
My thoughts and feelings began with amusement at the kids laughter. But it quickly turned to indignation. After I said what I said, I became concerned. As I started to walk home I began to reflect on what had occurred. Was this what you would call abuse. Not quite I thought. What about harassment? No, it didn’t really rise to that level. I finally realized it was an act of discrimination. First because I am a transgender woman (did they even know), but also because I was different from them in any case.
When I got home I told my girlfriend about it, and started to process it some more. The end product was that it was hurtful. No one usually appreciates being laughed at. But, I also feel the hurt is not so bad. The kids might not have realized their behavior would be hurtful; that does not excuse it though. So, in the end as I type this up. I can feel that I have experienced an act of discrimination. My first. Maybe I am fortunate that is was no more than being laughed at by a group of kids. And, like being expose to a bit of a germ can help your immune system react faster when there is enough of it to become sick, and you pass without being ill, or only mildly so, I will be better able to handle the next incident.