A transgender woman was verbally assaulted while riding a Green Line Metro train Saturday in an incident that she caught on video.
Saoirse Gowan captured how a ride to meet friends turned into a nightmare in a video now seen more than a half-million times on Twitter. It has also made her a target of threats.
Gowan, who is transgender, said the man accused her of grooming children for sexual abuse in an obscenity-filled tirade, which he appeared to be livestreaming.
She noted that the same phrasing is currently used in bitter national debate over how U.S. public schools address gender identity.
“I couldn’t get off the train even though I felt terrified for my life because this guy was yelling at me that I’m a child groomer, that I’m only on the train dressed as who I am because I want to hurt children,” Gowan said.
The man was not wearing a mask despite federal law requiring them to be worn on public transit. And at the next stop, a Metro Transit police officer on patrol boarded the train.
The officer can be heard asking, “Ya’ll good?” Gowan replies, “No. This guy’s been harassing me.” The man then says, “That guy’s looking at me weird.”
In a statement, Metro said the “[Metro Transit Police Department] officer that boarded the train interviewed both individuals and took identification information. The officer removed the man from the train and the complainant continued on. The complainant did not want to pursue this as a criminal matter and a police information report was subsequently taken to document the incident.”
Gowan said there are certain actions other passengers could have taken to help.
“It would have really helped if one of the five or so other people on the train had come over and pretended that they knew me, pretended that they were my mom or my gran,” she said.
MTPD continues to investigate and will present the information to the U.S. Attorney’s Office to determine if charges should be filed.