My Ride on the 70 Bus

posted in: Buses, LGBTQ | 9

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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9 Responses

  1. Golden Silence

    These kids make me sick to my stomach. They sound like hate just seeps right through them. Are their lives that boring that attacking someone who did nothing to them is the highlight of their day? I just don’t get some of these kids! Why are they growing up to be so violent?

    I had a violence incident (also involving teens, ironically) recently on Metro grounds (I won’t get into that here) and sent an online complaint to WMATA. They didn’t respond, so I ended up calling it in. The attitude I got from the woman on the phone was “So? What do you expect me to do?”

    Even if WMATA’s reps act dismissive, still call it in. WMATA needs to start making some changes, seriously. In your case, even if the driver didn’t want to get physically involved, he could’ve done something like called the police. He also could’ve kicked those bad-butt teens off the bus!

  2. JS

    shocked, appalled. proud of the writer for standing up and doing something. ready for change.

  3. PR

    Thank you for standing up for her. It’s unfortunate that the bus driver didn’t say anything. I’ve been on the bus several times when bus drivers choose to ignore horrible things that are going on; I wonder whether they think it’s their job. However, I’ve also seen a couple bus drivers threaten to kick people off the bus if they don’t stop harassing others.

  4. Golden Silence

    This story also reminds me of how this city has such a “not my problem!” attitude about things.

    There’s a story in Washington state of a blind woman getting punched in the face for no reason on the bus (the puncher had mental health issues) and the male passengers stepped in to restrain the puncher and a female passenger stepped in to comfort the blind woman. Why can’t more people step in in DC when this nonsense happens? There is a safety in numbers.

  5. Wondering...

    I wonder…if these kids were threatening her, would any passenger, not just the driver, have valid cause to call 911 and have the police actually do something about it? I would love to know the answer, because I hope that I could be one of the first passengers to call the police in this type of situation. Also, if passengers feel a physical threat on the bus, shouldn’t they have the right to request the bus driver to remove the problem passengers? Something to research with WMATA, I guess. I volunteer for a local business where we had to call the police due to someone making disturbing racial and gender-specific remarks toward the owner and making vague physical threats once outside of her store. When the police officer came, she said she couldn’t really do anything about verbal threats unless specific violent acts were mentioned, which surprised me.

  6. cindel

    If they were harassing the driver, the driver would have probably kicked them off but since it’s a passenger; not their problem. How soon WMATA forget that their drivers were subject to attacks to a point where they had to put up signs and cameras on the bus.

  7. Anonymous

    Good for you for saying something! You should be proud of yourself!

  8. jdhammond

    One of my friends is a very attractive transgendered woman who “passes” very well. This may have something to do with her getting catcalled a lot all along Georgia-7th, where she regularly rides her bicycle or takes the bus. But when she rejects their advances, they start trying to “figure out” why she would do something like that. And that’s when they stop with the “hay shorty” and start getting really ugly, calling her a tranny, a dyke, etc.

    Thank you for speaking out against street harassment and gender binaries!

  9. Todd

    Thank you so much for raising your voice against hate. DC has the highest rate of anti-GLBT hate crimes in the nation. In fact, GLOV was reformed last summer after I was attacked in Adams Morgan. Our volunteer group is committed to increasing awareness of GLBT hate crimes and actively seeks to change the behaviors and attitudes that allow hate-driven violence to plague our community. But it’s going to take the efforts of all concerned residents to promote tolerance, hold violators accountable, and advocate for change in our schools and government.