What was I supposed to do but give him what he wanted?
I didn’t want to die. I saw myself being the 22nd hashtag for the murder of a transgender woman of color.
I was recently traveling to work with the other members of an LGBT organization. I ran into some complications getting home, but I couldn’t afford to miss my flight because I, as a Black transgender woman, must keep my job–it’s so tedious searching for a job. Anyway, I had to change flights and airlines before even leaving the area, because my flight was delayed by over an hour. There was absolutely no way I would make my connecting flight had I stayed and waited. I ended up having to shuttle over to the neighboring terminal and board a flight leaving, but headed to another city for my connecting flight that would take me back home. As luck would have it, the flight for my connection was delayed as well. I just barely had enough time to get off the plane there, run through the terminal with my carry-on and manage to sit for a few seconds before boarding the next leg.
There was a Black man on the same flight who smiled at me when he saw me panting with my head down trying to collect myself. I smiled back. He said, “You seem tired.”
I responded, “I really am.”
I handed the ticket agent my boarding pass and she informed me that my seat had been changed to be closer to the front of the plane. I thought nothing of it and searched for my seat. Now, I hadn’t noticed that the smiling gentleman had boarded ahead of me, but it just so happened that I was sitting on the same row as him on the plane. My interactions with him continued when he heard the frustration in my voice because I could not find a ride from the airport once I landed. With the remaining battery I had on my cell phone, I frantically called everyone I could think of before it died.
I had no money for a taxi, so I sat there frustrated and worried because I needed to be at work the next day. It was then that I heard him ask, “What part of town do you live in?” I responded by telling him the cross streets closest to my physical address. He said, “That’s on the west side,” to which I replied, “Yes, it is.” He then told me, “I think I can help you out.” I was both relieved and somewhat apprehensive–this was a stranger, but one who was showing me an act of kindness. I thanked him and proceeded to fall asleep.
I awoke and he was motioning for me to come sit by him. At this point, I knew I had to choose my words carefully so as to not lead him on, because he didn’t know I was transgender. I engaged him in conversation about the reason for my trip. I made sure to mention that I had a boyfriend who lived with me. He asked me my name; I actually told him the story of changing my name legally. He told me his name his name as well and informed me that he was serving in the Army, although he did not give me his title; nor did I care to ask. I really wanted to sleep, but I didn’t want to appear rude knowing how he had offered to help me out. He told me that he lived in the same state, in a nearby town. I moved from my seat to sit closer to him on the plane.
As I waited for my valeted luggage, he passed by me, said he was going to the restroom and would wait on me. I said okay and thanked him again. I grabbed my luggage and started walking. We then reunited and walked toward the exit by the baggage claims.
When we reached his car, I opened the door to put in my luggage before climbing into the front seat. All this time, the man hadn’t tried anything inappropriate. He did compliment me on my looks and said, “I wouldn’t throw you out of my bed.” This was in reference to whether or not my beauty was enough to sustain a relationship. I was thinking to myself, “I have to shift the tone of this conversation.” I brought up my boyfriend again, but at this point I began stumbling for words and blurted out that my boyfriend was in another state, working. I didn’t realize he had picked up on it because we were conversing over the sound of music on the gospel station first before he switched to Smooth Grooves. It was a short drive to my apartment complex, and my neighbors were sitting outside when the car pulled up. He jumped out and grabbed my luggage so he could walk me to my door. I grabbed my purse and searched for my keys.
I unlocked the door and turned to him for my carry-on. He gestured that he had it and would bring it in for me, remarking that he wanted to see my place. I told him that as much as he could see was the bulk of the apartment. I reached for my luggage to get it out of the way, and he sat down. I told him I had gone through a lot trying to make my flight home and thanked him again.
He didn’t get up. As some point, I felt comfortable enough to sit down. Before I could realize what was going on, he had grabbed me and swooped me up into his lap. He forced his tongue into my mouth. As his tongue probed my mouth, his hand went underneath my shirt and bra to cup my right breast. In an instant my breast was exposed and his mouth was on my areola and nipple.
I pulled away from him, saying I had a boyfriend. But he was much stronger than I, so he cradled me like a baby and invaded my mouth with his tongue again. When I broke free from him, I managed to utter, “I’m transgender.” I apologized to him. I didn’t want to anger him because I saw that this had the potential to prove lethal for me.
He responded, “I’m not into that…I don’t have a problem with you, but that’s not what I’m into.”
I replied, “I know you’re not, and I hope I wasn’t leading you on.”
“I want to know what that head is like,” he said.
I froze. At this point, I had 21 thoughts, #TamaraDominguez, #ElishaWalker, #KandisCapri, #AmberMonroe, #ShadeShuler, #KCHaggard, #IndiaClarke, #AshtonO’Hara, #MercedesWilliamson, #LondonKikiChanel, #MyaShawatzaHall, #KeyshiaBlige, #KristinaGomezReinwald, #BriGolec, #PennyProud, #TajaGabrielledeJesus, #YazminVashPayne, #TyUnderwood, #LamiaBeard, #PapiEdwards, #JasmineCollins. All I could think of was I didn’t want to be the twenty-second reported murder of a transgender woman of color in 2015.
I was immediately fearful because I was sure that, being in the army, he had advanced training in subduing an enemy and hand to hand combat. He also had an arrogance about him when he said it. I could tell that he was just waiting for me to try anything other than what he told me to do.
I did what I thought at the time would allow me to live to see another day.
I gave him what he asked for. I died inside as I was on my knees praying to God while performing fellatio on my attacker. I held back tears so as not to enrage him. I wanted him out of my apartment.
It didn’t take long for him to release and he did so without warning. I got up from the floor to clean myself up. I also cleaned him up to collect the evidence which I have inside of a Ziploc bag.
I am absolutely humiliated and afraid–this man knows where I live and could come back at any moment. I have to file a report on him, and I am scared of the consequences this could bring into my life. I have always been a very private and discreet person who only shares intimate details with close friends every so often. I don’t want to be made a mockery of–I don’t think I could survive that. But I refuse to let him do this to another person and make her question her worth.
I have never felt so low in all my life. It empowers me to speak openly about my gender identity and my HIV status. I control my narrative in this way. It gives me the opportunity to be a beacon of hope for someone else who gets newly diagnosed or decides to transition. Yet, I feel so powerless in all of this. In all my fear, I didn’t say I was HIV positive. I only wanted to keep him from killing me, so I gave him what he wanted.
Perhaps the greatest irony of all is that I was the one who was violated, but the HIV transmission statute in my state could potentially imprison me for not telling my attacker that I have HIV.