How many times a day do strangers ask about your genitals? How many times a week, a month, a year?
“So,” he breathes, scanning my body, clad in a dress and stockings, “what do you have… down there?”
The bus rattles over a pothole, shaking me back and forth.
“That’s um really not uh a polite question to ask,” I stammer.
My face turns crimson red, I can feel it, the heat of shame and exposure flooding up to my forehead. Why do strangers feel that they own the information of my body? Why do they perceive that as their right?
“Yeah, but…” he said. But you’re a deviation from the norm. But transwomen are supposed to be a matter of public record. But, are you okay for me to screw, to fuck, to fantasise about, to masturbate over?
“I’ve not had an operation,” I answer.
“Those are real?” he asks with a wave of indictment at my breasts.
I am violated by the words, exposed by them. I meekly nod, my blush burning hotter, deeper.
“Nice,” he says. The compliment of reduction. The praise of the attribute rather than the whole. The word ‘nice’, innocent enough, a pleasant thing, used as a whip of control, of subjugation. I did not exist to him as another human in all the complex multifarious meaning of humanity, but as a set of sexual and social status objects, a fetish or a taboo.
I will later say to others “that’s impolite to ask,” and drop it there. Or ask pointedly if they want to have sex with me, to reflect the awkwardness of the question back to them, to make them confront the invasiveness of what they’re demanding of a stranger.
But now, on the bus, I just blush and squirm, and lay myself bare, because I don’t know a better thing to do. I am at the mercy of strangers, hoping that they will just accept the presentation and move on. Hoping that the cues alone will say that I am a woman. And hoping, fiercely hoping, for a day that I might be left alone. That no one on a bus would ask me what’s between my legs. That I could ride over the bumps and through the sluggish traffic to therapy, unmolested by the insistent curiosity of strangers- left in peace from their avarice to know the secrets of my body.
Since this website is not a public bus, and I’m putting myself out there to educate the general public (to what degree I can) about transgender issues, please feel free to leave a comment with a question you would like answered either about the transgender community or my own personal experience as a transwoman. Thanks for reading!