The recording, taken on April 28 by transgender woman Pearl Love, opens with another passenger on the train taunting Pearl about her makeup, handbag and feminine presentation. "Suck my dick!" the passenger screams before declaring that Pearl's presence "ain't appropriate for my child." The recording ends with the assailant jumping out of her seat and striking Pearl, who then stops the recording.
Though she goes by Pearl Love on Facebook, Pearl, a Taiwanese transgender woman, told Mic she just goes by the first name. Pearl confirmed the authenticity of the video and said she was on the way to New York City's LGBT Community Center when the female passenger began to berate her. After five minutes of verbal harassment, Pearl said she began to record.
Pearl said she experiences harassment in public so frequently that at first she didn't find the assault out of the ordinary. "It happens all the time basically," Pearl said. "I just walk away mostly, or I go to other room or other subway." This is the first time Pearl has recorded an incident of harassment.
But it wasn't until after Pearl posted the video on Facebook and received an outpouring of support that she realized how terrible the ordeal had been.
"I didn't know that it was that serious until people told me, because I've gotten used to it," Pearl said. "I thought, 'Oh, it was just another woman.' I didn't know until people told me that it was not right, that it was assault because it's happened for so long."
Besides attacking Pearl for her gender identity, the woman in the video hurled ethnic slurs at Pearl, who is Taiwanese.
"Whoever that motherfucker is in Taiwan or Tokyo, fuck y'alls emperor," the woman says.
The woman told Pearl her presence "ain't appropriate for my child" — though there is no child visible in the video.
As the video progresses, the woman morphs from irritated to angry to violent. She strikes Pearl, who remains silent throughout the recording.
Pearl said she stopped the recording at that point, but says she has two other videos showing the woman chasing her around the subway car. Pearl said she has chosen not to make the two other recordings public for the time being because she found the response to the first so overwhelming.
Pearl said that she has been moved by the outpouring of supportive comments from people on Facebook:
As of Wednesday morning, the video has been shared over 1,000 times and viewed over 111,000 times.
Though many people urged Pearl to report the incident to police, she said she is dealing with too much in her life at the moment to go to a precinct and file a report.
She said that assault was just one of the struggles she faces as a transgender woman.
"That's just a really small thing that I face every day. I go to a job interview, they look at me like, 'You're never going to get a job,'" she said. "They never even waste your time asking anything about you when you look feminine."
"I didn't know ... that it was assault because it's happened for so long."
Because Pearl cannot afford any other way to get around the city, she will continue to use public transportation.
"I cannot go anywhere without the subway. What am I gonna do?" she said. "I go on the subway, I usually just don't look at anyone, I just sit and pretend I'm studying or whatever. I'm looking around or doing something so people think I'm busy so I don't get into trouble. When people look at me, I don't react."