A transgender woman claims she was verbally and physically abused by a group of kids while riding a D.C. Circulator bus. She said things went from bad to worse because the bus driver didn't help.
Despite a profound culture shift in favor of acceptance, the transgender community says transgender men and women are often targeted in hate crimes.
“I got on the bus and sat down behind the bus driver,” said Warren Earls. “A group of kids got on -- about seven of them. The one that I noticed started off saying to the rest of them, ‘Isn't it a shame to be old and gay.’”
Earls is used to the name calling.
“I'm a 59-year-old transgender woman and that's how I identify myself,” Earls said.
But she said the name calling on the bus last Wednesday evening became more serious -- even threatening.
“I told him to go ahead and leave me alone and that's when he started cussing and making threats about what he's going to do on me,” she said.
Earls used her phone to record some of what was happening on the 15-minute Circulator bus ride from 14th Street and Good Hope Road in Southeast D.C. to the Anacostia stop.
The language is graphic and Earls claims one of the boys threatened to shoot her.
“I was terrified,” she said. “I had an anxiety attack. That's how threatening it got.”
Earls has come to expect problems from time to time because of who she is. But she is outraged and claims the bus driver didn't intervene.
“He heard the whole thing,” said Earls. “He heard it all from the time I got on.”
She said the group of kids got off the bus, and as her video partially captured, one of them threw a bottle inside the bus.
“The bottle hit me in my arm,” Earls said.
Did the bus driver say anything at this point?
“No, he was telling me to go ahead and get off the bus,” said Earls. “And I said, ‘I'm not getting off the bus. You’re going to report this.’”
She said another person called police. A Circulator supervisor showed up along with D.C. police to take a report.
The Circulator falls under the supervision of the D.C. Department of Transportation.
What is the protocol for a driver in a situation like this? A spokesperson said the safety of all passengers is DDOT's highest priority and added the allegations are troubling and are being investigated.