When Walking While Trans Is a Crime

 Scott Heins

Scott Heins

Raquel* was walking on 128th Street in East Harlem shortly before midnight on September 28, half-watching a YouTube video on her phone, when a man approached her on the sidewalk, startling her. “You’re so beautiful,” he said. And then: “Are you working?” Raquel gave him a quick no, then crossed the street to put some distance between herself and the stranger. He crossed the street, too, and propositioned her again: ‘You’re too beautiful not to be working. Are you working?”

The man’s third overture came a few minutes later, near the corner of Third Avenue, a frequent gathering place for transgender women in the neighborhood, where Raquel had stopped to chat with friends en route to meet her sister. He pressed her to know what $20 could “get” him. Frustrated, she told the man to leave her alone and walked away. “Next thing you know, I’m in handcuffs,” she recalled.

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