Here is the Text of my speech at Slutwalk Denver 2013. A video is available at http://youtu.be/LRrOFXPrnww
It’s good to see everyone here. We are here, because whether you are a survivor, or a family member, friend, or significant other of a survivor, we all have one thing in common: the rape culture we live in has impacted us. Slut-shaming and victim-blaming are so prevalent that even those of us who are survivors are not immune- especially to ourselves. In fact, because of the slut-shaming and victim blaming in our society, I did not report my rape. Too many of us here know how a rape investigation often goes- the woman is badgered and forced to relive the incident to police officers and district attorneys, then she is either told that there is not enough evidence to prosecute the rapist, or that she is about to go to court and have her sex life, wardrobe choices, and decisions on whether or not to ingest alcohol put on trial. Then, we have the possible involvement of media- including and especially social media, because the internet has turned our society into a place where anyone can publish a short comment and have it travel the world in moments, allowing the instant shaming and blaming of victims. And trying to combat it is like playing whack-a-mole with landmines.
It’s good to see everyone here for another reason. You see, on the night of June 3rd, I went out for an early birthday celebration. I had a few too many, and as I was going home, walking down the 16th street mall, I met a man who asked me directions. Then he told me how pretty he thought I was, and asked me to his room. I told him I was a trans woman, and he said it didn’t matter, and I went with him to smoke a joint… or so I thought. The next thing I knew I was choking as he shoved his large dick down my throat, ripping off my scarf and glasses as he hatefucked my face. I tried to get him off me, I tried to push him away and he just went at me harder. Adrenaline finally let me get him away from me, and he looked at the sparse hair on top of my head and said, “You’re a man!”
I responded that I told him I was trans, and that I came up to smoke a joint, not to have his big dick shoved down my throat. He said “You’re a man, take it like one,” and started back toward me. I screamed at him that if he came any closer I would kill him. I was lucky, he believed me, and I got what I could, my scarf and purse, and fled, leaving my glasses.
Like I say, I was lucky. My only injuries were a sore throat and the emotional wounds that come with being violated. Lots of women aren’t that lucky, especially trans women. Some trans women in that situation end up being murdered in the most brutal fashion imaginable.
One of the reasons I did not report is because I am trans, and I know that fact would become center stage. While our state has a law that defends my rights, it is difficult to enforce. I feared encountering an unsympathetic police officer, or DA, and having the situation turn on me, because not only does rape culture tell the lie that women lie about rape, cisnormative culture very often tells the lie that transgender people- especially trans women- are deceivers and predators.
I still fear a knock at my door or a hand on my shoulder, telling me I face some charge because my rapist ignored everything I was saying because he was only interested in raping me and I turned out to be trans. I fear encountering my rapist again, because the clearest look I had at him was when I was drunk and without my glasses. Until my STI tests came back negative, I feared he might have impacted me that way. I still relive the horror every day, and it has impacted me in a major way.
I am here taking my power back. I am here to say that I am a survivor, and that I reject rape culture and the burdens it places on me, rather than the perpetrator of the crime against me. I am here because we all need to let people know that how we dress, our like or dislike of sex, our orientation, our consumption of drugs or alcohol, does not equal consent. I am here because rape culture tells lies to us, tries to bind us. I am here because not all men are rapists, and I reject the rape culture that says they are, that rape is normal, as I reject the cisnormative culture that calls me a deceiver because I am trans- because they are sides of a coin.
We are survivors, we are strong, and we can change this world; standing together with our friends, family and allies, we can make a difference. There can be a world where people who have been raped will not be afraid to seek justice because of the judgment society places on survivors. The work begins here, and it is ours to do. Help a survivor. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. But most of all, do not remain silent. The more voices we have singing, the louder the chorus…