Marla Standing-Owl, a transgender Lyft driver who has given over 4,000 rides, said that she no longer wants to drive for Lyft after being attacked by a drunk passenger for being trans, according to NBC.
She was driving on Friday when she picked up an inebriated man in downtown Portland. The man was frustrated that he presumably entered the wrong destination on the app lashed out at Standing-Owl and said that she was “nothing but a man.” Not wanting to have her identity erased, she responded with “I don’t need bigotry in my car.” The passenger decided that he didn’t like that she just said that and started hitting her in the head and neck. Fearing for her life, she pulled over and both she and the passenger got out of the car and she sprayed him with pepper spray. He ran away and has not been found by the police yet.
Standing-Owl explained that while she was in physical pain, the psychological pain hurts worse, as she recognizes that transgender people are frequently mistreated and misgendered because many don’t see them as people. She said: “We’re not taken seriously, because we don’t count as people… in most people’s eyes, we’re trash.” I can definitely understand where she is coming from because, while I’m not transgender myself I have overheard some transphobic things such as “they’re just pretending” or “they’re just using this as an excuse to go into the women’s bathroom.” Transgender people are possibly the least understood part of the LGBTQ community so it is no wonder that the passenger made such a comment and also attacked Standing-Owl.
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality’s 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, attacks on trans people often go unreported despite Oregon have hate crime laws specifically for gender identity. The Center also revealed that transgender people are often mistreated by law enforcement officials and the criminal justice system in general. There is a real problem with violence and intolerance towards transgender people in the United States and there needs to be some serious intervention before things get worse.