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14 July 2011, 2:00 pm 2 Comments

The Adventures of the Boi Wonder: Knives Out

This post was submitted by Levi

“So you think you can push me around
And make me run
Well I’m gonna tell you now
I’m gonna get me a gun
I’m gonna get me a gun
And all those people who put me down
You better get ready to run,
Cuz I’m gonna get me a gun”

–”I’m Going to Get Me a Gun” by Cat Stevens

I’ve always been more pragmatic than pacifist. That being said, I’ve also never physically hurt someone in my entire life, even those who deserved it or in self-defense. However, as I become more and more aware (and disillusioned) of the world around me, the more I feel compelled to arm myself.

I’m a pretty easy target; I’ve known that since I was a kid. It happens that I’m a shrimpy nerd, frequently alone, a person of colour, a trans person who doesn’t “pass”, and not straight…Any of those could cause someone to mug or bash me. I’ve been lucky so far, but there have been close calls…High school was pretty much entirely a close call, a group of girls harassing me at a metro station that I was worried were going to follow me, and a late-night metro ride where a guy was very angry (started getting too close for my comfort and was cursing me out) that I wouldn’t let him “borrow” my cell phone.

Trans people are very much at high risk for assault; the statistics are rather abysmal, to say the least. There’s reason to be vigilant. I’ve written before about crimes against trans people, ones in my area. It is nerve-wrecking even just to walk into a public restroom in a new place (in fact, I know some who just flat-out avoid unknown restrooms, even at their own health/comfort expense). Groups like the Pink Pistols arose because of real threats to the queer community.

I’ve been thinking about getting a knife. It is hard not to walk into a sporting goods store, see those hunting knives and think “Nobody would mess with me if I had that or at the very least I’d have a fighting chance”. I admit that part of my desire is based on that psychological comfort. I managed to get through high school without any real physical injury by cultivating the idea that I would bring about bloody retaliation. It wasn’t the best plan of action, but it kept me from harm. At least I’m not planning to get a machete (an ex of mine had at least one).

This isn’t the only way to approach personal safety, though. And I am pretty sure that some of you readers won’t agree with my methodology. Many college campuses and recreation centers offer self-defense classes, often for free or rather inexpensively. Unfortunately, many of these classes are exclusively for women only, and some have discriminated against trans women. Ergo, I stay just stay away (I’d feel really uncomfortable anyway). Taking specific martial arts classes can be time-consuming (taking years to gain proficiency) and expensive. However, a can of Mace or some pepper spray is pretty cheap. “Avoid dangerous situations” is kind of a vague and ridiculous suggestion (some things are unavoidable), but I at least recommend that one exercise caution and hypervigilance. Buddy systems are great as well. My friends always ask me to call or text them to tell them that I got home safely when I have to travel on the metro late at night alone. For people involved in sex work, there are some great organizations out there, like HIPS (http://hips.org/) in DC that can help with safety issues. No judgments here, I just want people to be safe regardless of their past and current histories or occupations, especially trans people.

Anything I left our or suggestions you all have? Comment below or email me. I would say “Live long and prosper”, but it isn’t nearly as cool (read: nerdy) if you can’t see me do the Vulcan hand gesture.

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  • James said:

    I think a can of mace would do more to incapacitate someone scary. I mean, spraying him/her in the face and then getting the hell away from them seems like more of a game plan than brandishing a knife and hoping said person backs down. I wouldn’t really know though, having done neither.

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