As a transgender woman, Pearl Love is no stranger to verbal and physical attacks from random people on the street. Last week, on the way to a work event, Pearl was yet again the target of a vicious transphobic attack by another passenger on the New York City subway — except this time, Pearl filmed the incident and shared it on Facebook, sparking outrage and an ensuing outpour of support from social media users.
Among those who responded to the video was Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who left a comment on the post reiterating her support of transgender rights and telling Pearl that she was "on her side." Clinton wrote, in full:
An outreach social worker for Translatina Network, Pearl was on the 6 train headed to a work event when a female passenger realized she was transgender and began berating her. The woman also hurled racist insults at Pearl, who is Taiwanese, and towards the end of the video appears to lunge at Pearl.
"I just sat down and started reading my book but then this woman across me just randomly started yelling profanities at me and saying racist things," Pearl told ABC News. "I tried to just ignore it as I usually do, but this woman kept going for over five minutes. She was getting louder and more aggressive, so I started recording because I was scared."
Perhaps worst of all is that not one passenger came to her defense.
"She attacked me inside the train," Pearl wrote. "When I retreated, she threw all my stuff on the floor and chased me around the train and say she is going to find a stick to hit me. It was a crowded train and everyone heard it but no one helped me. Guys acting like nothing happened. For 5 [minutes]."
Since she shared the video on Monday, it has been viewed more than 250,000 times.
Pearl also noted that incidents like this happen to her all the time, a statement reinforced by the appalling statistics on violence against transgender people. Last year, at least 21 transgender people — most of them trans women of color, who are overwhelmingly victims of such hate crimes — were murdered, more than any other year on record.
But the rush of support Pearl has received since posting the video is heartening. She later responded to Clinton's comment: "Yes. I feel loved. My Dear friends, thanks for all support."
The two had met last month when Clinton visited the West Village LGBT center while campaigning in New York ahead of the state primary.