Imagine being in one of the most vulnerable moments of the day- having nature call while you’re in a public space. Perhaps you can’t, because like most people who need a bathroom while at dinner, the library or school, you simply look for the “Restrooms” sign and head in that general direction. Trans women, however, dread having to use a public bathroom. It can be an anxiety inducing experience, relying on a keen awareness of their surroundings, the ability to judge the likely temperaments of the other pedestrians occupying the space and assess the situation like they’re on a covert mission and the ultimate goal is to avoid drawing any attention to themselves as they pursue relief. Every trans woman knows the intensity of this situation. Some refuse to use a bathroom in public if at all possible. Others will only use the bathroom if it’s a single stall room, allowing only one occupant at a time. In the case of multi-stall toilets, I’ve had trans friends who have stood outside a restroom waiting until the last woman leaves before going in. Once they were able to slip into the bathroom alone, in the event that anyone would come in as she did her business, they would wait in the stall quietly until no one remained at the washing sinks so she could make a quick exit and resume her life.
It’s a complicated, psychologically and emotionally taxing experience, especially in the current political climate where Trans women have been targeted for using bathrooms according to their gender identity. Bills have been introduced in states like North Carolina, Louisiana and more recently Alaska and Alabama where conservative Republicans have sought to criminalize Trans women in public bathrooms- even threatening them with a jail sentence should they be caught. There is no precedence for such laws given no instance has ever been documented where a Trans woman has attacked anyone in a bathroom, one can only presume these frivolous laws specifically targeting trans women (Not trans men) is intended to inspire hatred and fear of us.
The state of California is a little more progressive. Historically, California is a blue state, far more evolved than most in terms of social awareness, diversity and sensitivity. So, imagine how surprising it was to find that Jazmina Saavedra, a ciswoman running to represent California’s 44th Congressional district decided to make a spectacle in a Los Angeles Denny’s Diner by filming herself as she stalked, cruelly insulted, misgendered, and threatened a trans woman coming out of a bathroom.
You can probably guess that Saavendra is a staunch Trump supporter running on a Republican ticket. Her facebook intro reads as follows:
She proudly uploaded the video of the assault to her own facebook, receiving tremendous support from fellow conservatives, Republicans and the general public of the bigoted ilk.
There is a bit of irony here, as Saavendra is a Nicaraguan immigrant living in a country where immigrants have come under fire by the current administration. We’ve seen an influx of reports where men and women who speak other languages publicly or dress in their culturally appropriate garments are approached and assaulted at restaurants, on street corners and even in grocery stores by radicals who hurl degrading slurs for “Not speaking English” or dressing like an American in “my country.” In many cases, you don’t even have to be an immigrant to experience this abuse, you just have to have darker skin. It’s community profiling in the hands of an increasingly aggressive public sector. It’s dangerous, to say the least.
A Denny’s manager intervened on the unidentified Trans woman’s behalf, escorting her from the restaurant as Saavendra continued her tirade of hate inside as uncomfortable customers looked on.
There are a lot of questions that have been raised by activists seeking justice for the trans woman who endured the dehumanizing attack. Does Denny’s have a policy that prohibits filming another guest in their establishment without consent? Why was Saavendra, the hostile figure who had threatened the trans woman with a taser and mace, allowed to stay on the premises? Why did no employee call the police on behalf of the innocent trans woman who was being unjustly harassed?
In recent weeks, we have seen bigots, like Manhattan attorney Aaron M. Schlossberg who chided two women in a restaurant for speaking spanish while in America. They recorded him and the karma was swift. In the following days, activist Shaun King who took to twitter with an appeal to his followers to help identify him. Schlossberg’s lease on his swanky Madison Avenue business office was immediately terminated. To compound that, in a letter Thursday to the state court disciplinary system, Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. (D) accused Schlossberg of misconduct for his “viral racist rant.” Diaz told The Washington Post that Schlossberg should be suspended or disbarred.
There was also the lady, now identified as Dr. Jennifer Schulte, who called the police on a black family for barbecuing in a park by the river in Oakland, California. For two hours she harassed the picnickers, claiming their family activity was a threat to public safety because they were using charcoal to grill. She was approached by a white bystander who saw her aggressively harassing the family and found herself being recorded.
Dr. Schulte was quickly brought to justice when the internet dug up her identity, her workplace and reported her for her racist actions that resulted in the innocent family being detained for two hours… for barbecuing while black.
Sadly, there has been no warcry on behalf of the trans woman who was attacked in Denny’s, nor has there been any consequences thus far for Jazmina Saavedra, who is glib about the entire incident, even sharing the articles written about her regarding her vicious attack on the trans woman. She is remorseless.
They say the fish stinks from the head down, and this is undeniably a symptom of living as a minority in Trump’s America.
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