Acceptable damage

My friend was humiliated on the Glasgow subway last night.

My friend is a conventionally attractive thirtysomething cisgender woman with great fashion sense and brightly coloured hair. This, apparently, was enough to convince a carriage full of men that she was transgender. In between breaks to snort cocaine from a shared bag, the men loudly abused her, shouting the t-slur and other transphobic and homophobic abuse.

She’s as okay as you can be in such circumstances, but it was a horrific experience – and it’s an experience that’s becoming increasingly common in public for anybody who doesn’t fit a very narrow view of acceptable femininity, because transphobia has become the bigotry it’s okay – and often even encouraged – to express. To the anti-trans mob, the abuse of cisgender women is simply acceptable, collateral damage mixed with victim blaming: if cis women don’t want to be abused by howling arseholes on public transport, they should present themselves more demurely.