It all started back in 2006 when a male who self identifies as transgender was allegedly verbally harassed by a subway worker whom he had asked for help with a non-functioning metro-card. From the NY Daily News: “When she sought assistance, a female transit worker called her a “dyke” and ridiculed her”.
Now, for anyone not familiar with the predominant demeanor of New York Municipal Transit Authority workers, let’s sum it up in three little words: Unbelievably Fucking Rude. That’s right. To illustrate, note this comment left on the above quoted article:
“a friend of mines came to visit me from jersey last week. when it was time for her to go home i walked her to the train station. we went to the turnstile and she swiped her card it said swipe again it kept saying the same thing over and over. finaly we went to the pod that says u can check the amount on your card. and it said to see agent we went to the booth to see the agent. and she went off on us. mind you my friend brought that metro card that same day a 24>oo unlimited so that she could also use it to go to work since she works here in nyc. that clerk kept on being nasty until finally i said fugg that !! and began taking down her info. when she noticed what i was doing. she got really threatening to me. telling me how she was gonna whoop my ***. i told her. bring your a$$ from behind that booth n lets see who gets their a$$ whooped.she wouldnt do that. but continued to be threatening and talking ****. it took the clerk who worked with her to just give us the info on turning the card back into mta for a refund and allowing my friend to go thru the turnstile so that she could get home. some of these clerks act as if. its coming out their pay. wtf is up with that. its not our fault the dayum cards stop working.”
OK did you get that? The MTA agent THREATENED TO BEAT A RANDOM CUSTOMER’S ASS. Rude, huh? Actual threats towards customers. It takes a special person to spend 8 hours a day locked in an airless underground bullet proofed cement coffin down in the subway alone with lord knows what kind of wackos pulling all sorts of fucked up shit 24/7. Some of the booth agents are half out of their mind, and who could blame them. There but for the grace of god and all that.
With that bit of background established, back to our story.
The male who was yelled at and called a “dyke” filed a formal complaint against the mouthy booth agent. Order thus being re-established, he trotted back to the subway the next day, taking a gander at the ticket booth to enjoy the downcast eyes of the now-chastened service worker.
AND SHE LAUGHED AT HIM. SHE LAUGHED. AND POINTED. AND HER CO-WORKERS SNICKERED ALONG WITH HER.
Thus began the male ego’s five year (and counting) legal battle, not only for revenge, but for lucrative monetary compensation for mental and emotional injury.
The NYTransit responded to his complaint by setting up a disciplinary hearing for the employee which the plaintif failed to show up for even though he was under supoena and even though it was rescheduled three times. Smith was then transferred to another department with no formal discipline proceedings since the complaintant failed to show. The transgender-identified male instead pursued legal action against the NYTA claiming that they were financially liable for alleged damages caused by a worker’s rude-ass mouth.
The worker, Lorna Smith already had #16 complaints on her personnel file for rude behavior towards commuters (none of which involved gender or orientation complaints). I was unable to determine the average # of complaints on MTA employee files but let’s just say I doubt it’s zero. The female-identified male, Tracy Bumpus alleges that MTA is financially responsible for the rude behavior and the epithet verbalized by Ms. Smith, and that Ms. Smith is also financially responsible for bruising his ego and embarrassing him- oh no wait- for the DAMAGE caused. What damage is that? From court records:
“Bumpus, a transgender woman, alleges that she was verbally harassed by a NYCTA employee Lorna Smith, when Bumpus was on a NYCTA subway platform.
During her deposition, Bumpus testified that as a result of the incident and the alleged discriminatory conduct of defendants, that her two-year relationship with her partner, Magic Wilder, has suffered. Bumpus testified as follows:
“Because I had felt inadequate. The relationship for the most part is functioning as a heterosexual relationship. This incident made me feel insecure about who I was. I didn’t want him to touch me. I didn’t want to be bothered because this whole thing that me being trans and this issue [sic], that had not been issue, became an issue for me and because of that, you know, I questioned myself.”
He was made to QUESTION himself. By being called “Dyke”. It made him question his “heterosexuality” and damaged the “heterosexuality” of his relationship. Wow. Tough times.
The case has gone on ever since and last week received it’s latest court ruling allowing it to continue, ruling that the NYTA can be sued for the verbal first amendment actions of it’s employees if those words are discriminatory against a protected transgender class under NYC law. If the worker had called the transgender male “fat and ugly” for example there would have been no case. Or if an actual lesbian had been called “Dyke”. Or if an actual woman had been called a “twat”. You get the picture.
Nobody should be treated like shit. And no one should have epithets spewed at them by surly transit workers. And it’s good that if you’re really pissed off the NYMTA will set up a disciplinary hearing at one’s behest. That sounds like good practice. But that’s just not enough for some guys.