The Nightmare of Transwoman Melissa Maria Gonzalez
MAJOR TRIGER WARNING, THIS CONTAINS MAJOR VIOLENCE AND DISCRIMINATION.
This letter is typical and representative of the types of situations that are brought to our daily attention, with requests for aid at ETNYC. The names and places have been changed, and some of the details altered, for the protection of all involved.
My name is Melissa Maria Gonzalez. On September 2, 2014, my roommate beat me. I had been living with my boyfriend at the time, in his shared apartment. Three of the roommates had been calling me a man for a while and teasing me because in the morning I would have more hair on my face then the average woman. They would blame me for the dirt in the bathroom and yell out in front of my door “That monster in there with a d*** did this.”
I do not understand why my roommate, Cindy would have disliked me. She overheard me talking on the phone to a medical clinic and I had told them that I was transsexual. Cindy gave me a long look and from experience, I knew I had a pretty good guess what it meant. It is the puzzled stare that people give me when they find out that I am trans. It was then I told Cindy that I am trans and she said, “That’s okay, I ain’t got no problem with that. So you is a dude in women clothes?” I replied no “I am a woman.” She then replied, “Don’t get upset, I am okay with that.” I was not sure what to feel-relief that my roommate just gave me permission to be myself? Did I need to explain more because she clearly did not understand what it is to be trans? Tense, I left and went to my bedroom for privacy.
A few days went by, Cindy talked to me as if she was my friend. She began making comments “your nails are not looking so good” and one time she offered to do my makeup saying “let me show you how to do your makeup.” It was not long after that I started getting nasty comments from my other roommates. I had never told them I am trans.
On the morning of September 2, 2014 when I went to use the bathroom, Cindy grabbed me by my hair and began slapping me; she threw me on the ground kicking me over and over. This was a totally unprovoked attack and I was suddenly in the midst of violence and confusion. I attempted to get away, but she continued to grab me, beat me and call me a man. I had no choice but to defend myself. I did not want to, but she would not let me go. When I finally got her pinned to the ground, the police began banging on the door.
The police came in and saw me on top of her. We both had been bleeding a lot and as they took me off Cindy I told the Officer with badge #2882, she attacked me and was calling me a man. The police Officer hand cuffed me and asked Cindy if she needed to go to the hospital. As the Officer’s talked amongst themselves, I could hear the Sargent say, “That’s a man beating up a woman, he is going.” The next thing I know, I am being lead to the back seat of a police car.
I told the Police Officer with badge #2882 that I was hurt and need to go to the hospital. The Officer ignored me and began shuffling through his I-Pod. He turned up the police car radio blaring the song ‘Dude looks like a lady’ by Aerosmith and drove to the police station.
When we arrived at the police station, the Officer brought me in front of the Captain and said, “Look what I found.” In a condensing voice the Captain said to me “Are you a man or a transsexual or transgender?” The Lieutenant came by and said, “That’s a man in women clothes.”
I was brought to a jail cell and it had been the 5th time I told them that I needed to go to the hospital. When the police took the handcuffs off, I turned around and there was a group of men in the cell across from me. The men were making degrading comments about me; “Oh that is Bubba,” and so forth. I guess one of the police officers heard them, because from that moment on the police would refer to me as “Bubba” or “Percy.”
After a few hours the police took me to the hospital. I was in shackles and when I arrived, the nurses greeted me with “Good morning sir.” I told the nurse that I was not a guy. Nurse Anna would continue to use the word “sir” when referring to me. I explained to the nurse Anna that I was not a guy and that I would appreciate if she referred to me as the woman that I am.
I was brought into a room that had a male patient on the other side of the divider. I asked nurse Anna why I was in a room with a guy. She ignored me. Soon Doctor Gomez came in to see me. The first thing Dr. Gomez asked me is “Have you had your operation yet?” I ignored the question and told the doctor that my arm is hurting me really bad and I think it is broken. Dr. Gomez responded, “We will get to that, but I have to get through some questions first. When did you have your surgery?” I asked the Dr. what he thought my “surgery” had to do with the fact that I thought my arm was broken. I was sure he could tell that I was frustrated at this point.
The doctor eventually looked at my arm and the x-ray confirmed it had been broken. While the doctor was putting on the cast, I asked the Officer with badge #2882 if they had arrested Cindy. He looked at me and said, “No, there is no reason to, you got what you deserved for beating up a woman.” Soon after I was released from the hospital and then released from police custody. I was given a felony assault charge and a September 14, 2014 court date.
When I got home from the hospital, my belongings had been packed up. My boyfriend told me “look I do not need this. I love you and everything, but I cannot have you stay here with me anymore. This is causing too many problems and you are going to have to find somewhere else to live.” I explained to him that I had nowhere else to go. At this point my tears where dripping down my face. My boyfriend had just broken up with me.
I did not know what to do. I am only 21 years old; my boyfriend is the only thing I have known for the last 3 years. We had just moved into the apartment a few months ago. I was waiting for him to propose to me.
It was at this point that I began to think of ending all. My life felt like it was worth nothing. I had been assaulted, ended up with a broken arm, was dragged to jail and all because of who I am, a transsexual woman. I called a suicide line and they helped me to calm down and sort things out. They referred me to a shelter for women.
When I arrived at the shelter I was stopped by the security at the door. The security officer told me I could not go in and that it was a shelter for women only. I explained to the security officer that I am a transsexual woman and I need a place to stay. Security allowed me into the building.
A staff lady by the name of Linda came to the front and walked me back to her office. She says, “I heard you are transsexual?” I replied, “Yes I am a transsexual woman.” She replied “I heard they just passed a law that will not allow me not to take you in, but I have to warn you it is not going to be easy for you.” I explained to her my situation from being attacked to being kicked out. She told me “We are going to help you out with this transsexual problem that you have going on. Boys do not belong sleeping with the girls.” I was not sure what she meant by that.
Linda took me to the therapist and told me I would need to be evaluated. I met with the therapist and explained everything I have explained so far in this letter. The therapist looked at me with a smile and said “We are going to fix all of this, don’t worry you will be back to the way you where in no time. I have worked with a lot of homosexual people and they have realized their mistakes.”
I was admitted into the shelter and the other women began telling me that I stunk. They would yell at me, “That’s a boy.” About every other hour through out the night, some type of comment was made, such as “Get that boy out of here.” Comments were made about my genitalia and I was even told to go jump off a bridge. When I walked into the bathroom everyone would walk out while snickering at me.
The last straw came a few days later. I was taking a shower; the residents of the shelter ripped open the shower curtain. There I was standing fully naked in front of a group of 10 residents. They kicked me several times and then one came with a knife and said “Get your stuff and get out of here, if you ever come back I will kill you.”
I went to talk to Linda the staff person and she told me there was nothing she could do about the other residents. She had not seen anything so she would not do anything. She requested that I come back to see the therapist.
I left the shelter and began sleeping on park benches and sidewalks. It was and is a day-to-day struggle for me. Finding a shower has been impossible and I always have to be worried when I use the public restrooms.
THE PUBLICE DEFENDER
My court date finally came; I was assigned a public defender. Ms. Shultz the public defender had me come in her office. I explained everything that happened with the fight. I also explained to her that I am a transsexual woman. She told me “I have dealt with people like you before, you do not have worry about that.” She explained, “I think this may not go well for you. You face the possibility of being in jail for the next 6 days and then may face a grand jury. You could be indicted and possibly sentenced to 3 years.”
I explained, “There is no way I can go to jail, they will rape me repeatedly! Staff or the inmates do not treat girls like me properly. Please let the judge know I can not spend time in jail.” She said “Well there is another solution, you can plead guilty to a lesser charge and possibly only do a month to 6 months in jail.”
We went in front of Judge Marley and she looked at me and said “I fully understand your situation, I am going to allow you to continue to be out of custody with a promise to appear before me on October 19, 2014.”
It is now February 17, 2015. Because I had never been arrested before, I received 1 year of unsupervised probation. My arm has healed and I now have a criminal record. I have not heard back from my boyfriend and Cindy was never arrested or charged for assaulting me. I have had to leave the town that I lived in my entire life because there are no resources here for me. I have moved to New York City and I saw your website. So here I am writing you this long e-mail. Can you please help?”