Last night I had to endure what I expect will be my last case of transphobia.
Whilst walking out of Via in Canal Street with a girlfriend, some guy who was stood at the bar with his friends yelled at me:
"Hey Peter, I didn't recognise you there mate. How are you?"
Since I don't know anyone called Peter I just ignored him and attempted to carry on. He then yelled:
"Peter, why are you ignoring me, you weren't ignoring me last night Peter"
The guys who he was stood with found this amusing, smiles and laughter ensued.
Despite many similar incidents over the last few years, somehow this time I couldn't take it any more.
I stopped, turned towards him and slapped him hard across the face and I think I must have yelled back something at him.
The guy had the perfect opportunity to just shut the fuck up, but he chose to continue his humiliating and demeaning tirade. And it's worth noting here, that not one of his friends told him to stop.
So I gripped him by the throat and pushed him back against the bar and yelled at him to stop. He just carried on.
I turned to the shocked barmaid and shouted to her to get the bouncers and to get this guy out. I needn't have bothered because the doormen were already behind me and had heard virtually every word that the guy had said.
I moved out of the way and made for the main door as the bouncers proceeded to hustle the guy towards another door and out of the bar.
I emerged onto Canal Street and Tony, the owner of the bar came over and asked me what had happened. I broke down into tears and started to explain; but already I could feel something within me beginning to die - I sensed Joanne turning around and walking away from me.
The guy was also now out on the street with his 'friends' and was arguing with the bouncers because he felt he shouldn't have been ejected, possibly because he thought that being transphobic, taking the piss unmercifully out a complete stranger and attempting to ruin someone's night was perfectly acceptable behaviour.
I walked over to the group and addressed the bloke:
"Do you want to apologise?"
The guy just continued his torrent of abuse.
I asked again if he wanted to apologise, but his abuse simply got worse. So I punched him in the face.
I was quickly hustled back to where I'd previously been stood.
It was then revealed to me that all the guys friends were gay and that they'd brought him out to show him what the Gay Village was like; since a couple of his friends had already been over to remonstrate with me about the way I'd reacted in the bar; they and he thought it was obviously good sport to take the piss out of transgendered people. Perhaps they make a distinction between the battle the gay community has had over the years and the battle that we now face. Perhaps they're just as prejudiced as the people they've railed against for so long. So much for support from some of the Gay Community.
And for good measure, the guy broke free from the bouncers and ran toward me; he was quickly stopped in his tracks by the bouncers, but not before he threatened me and called me "a fucking freak".
We trooped off to another bar but I wasn't in a good place. My good friend Ruby correctly identified that I was as upset with the way I'd reacted as I was with what had happened. My spirits were sinking low and so I got up and walked out of the bar, down Richmond Street; the intention being to try and find a quieter part of the canal where I could slip under it's cold waters and let nature relieve me of all the shit I have to tolerate and all the shit that is yet to come.
But cowardice and the fact that Tanya and Ruby's things were back at my place made me turn round and walk back, zombie like to the bar.
The rest of the evening was a blur. I tried to not let it spoil the other girls' night - but mine, along with my new dress which now had blood stains on it, was ruined.
And so today, after the girls had gone and I could feel myself slipping into the quicksand of depression I decided I couldn't put my friends or myself through that again.
I sat down, removed my nail varnish and then cut my nails back so they were short. I've hit a brick wall and I don't feel strong enough at the moment to pick myself back up. I am going to try and rewind Joanne and put her back into her box. Whether I can or not, I don't know and it may be just the way that I feel at the moment.
But at the moment, I feel just like a candle that's been blown out.