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Trans woman assaulted at New West SkyTrain

Dita Brown says man threw hot coffee at her

Though Dita Brown says she hasn't faced this sort of discrimination before, she says many trans people regularly do. Credit: Shauna Lewis photo

Vancouver’s transit police force is investigating an alleged assault on a transgender woman at the New Westminster SkyTrain station, Jan 8.

Dita Brown says a man pushed her and threw hot coffee on her in the station’s lower mall.

Brown, who has lived as a woman for seven years, told transit police that she was retrieving a newspaper from a newsstand box and minding her own business when she was startled by a loud bang.

“It was a guy. It was a black guy, and he pushed over the newspaper stand right in front of me,” she tells Xtra.

“I tried to ignore it, and I wanted to walk away, and then this guy started to kind of dance around me and then he started pushing me,” she says.

The man then threw a cup of coffee at her, splattering her, before walking back to a group of people who were gathered 20 feet away and laughing, Brown says.

Staff sergeant Ken Schinkel confirms that transit police are investigating the alleged attack. He says investigators are “still trying to get some good-quality digital imaging from the closed-circuit television system.”

“We’re still looking at all possibilities,” he says. “But there have been indications that this attack was not a hate-motivated crime.”

Brown’s statement did not lead transit police to believe the incident was motivated by hate, Schinkel says, since the alleged attacker uttered no homophobic or transphobic slurs at the time of the assault.

Brown admits that the man, whom she describes as  seeming “mentally unstable,” said nothing during the incident. But she still believes she was attacked for being transgender.

“I think it’s clear enough. Why would the guy do this?

“The guy was obviously very gender-phobic,” she says. “He is obviously someone who cannot digest the fact that someone is different than he is.”

Schinkel tells Xtra that once the alleged assailant is identified, a mental evaluation will be conducted.

Brown remains frustrated by the incident. “I find it a very unpleasant thing to have happen,” she says, adding that she has travelled extensively throughout the United States and never encountered this level of discrimination.

She hopes her alleged attacker, and others like him, will eventually learn to accept transgender people.

“He should be educated,” she says. “I wish him no harm, but he should behave himself, and if he doesn’t understand something, then he should ask questions.

“I want it to be known that this happens and that there are many trans people that this happens to,” she adds.

“We are proud to be transgender; we have as much right to be here as anyone else, and we would like to live our lives without being assaulted.”