A New York-based trans artist wouldn't let a rude stranger's street harassment bother them — so they issued an empowering comeback on Facebook.
On Sunday, Alok Vaid-Menon — who is part of the South Asian spoken word and performance art duo DarkMatter — snapped a selfie before leaving their house. While walking outside, a stranger reportedly stared at them and asked, "WTF is that?"
As the stranger and his friends followed and recorded them, Vaid-Menon managed to escape into a taxi. While in the taxi and away from the people who mocked them, Vaid-Menon said they reminisced about how safe the selfie made them feel.
"Selfies allow me to... remember who I am, what I am fighting for, and what the world I want to create looks like," the activist wrote in a Facebook post. "A selfie is an earnest invitation into the world I am making for myself."
Although this is not the first time that Vaid-Menon has publicly spoken out against street harassment, it's certainly one of their most popular messages on the subject. As of Thursday, their Facebook post had received nearly 7,000 shares.
Vaid-Menon also included a powerful response to the strangers who ridiculed them in the streets.
"What you see is someone just trying to figure it out," he wrote on Facebook. "Someone desperately trying to remember what it means to prioritize my joy over your fear. What you see is someone trying my best to find meaning in a world that continues to think it knows what's best for me. What you see is someone is equally confident and equally scared, is someone who needs your help to get free."
Vaid-Menon told A Plus that they were overwhelmed by the outpouring of kindness and support from their Facebook post.
"It can be extraordinarily difficult, isolating, and harsh to navigate this world as a gender non-conforming person," Vaid-Menon wrote to A Plus. "Having people rooting for me makes it a little bit easier and reminds me that I'm not in this alone! My hope is that online support like this can translate into people feeling empowered to intervene and stop street harassment of cis women, trans, and gender non-conforming people in real life, too! "