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I'm Sorry: To The Women I Harassed

8 years or so ago, I don't remember exactly, I went to Disney World with my family. I was 15 and my family went on a vacation that would be our last until this year, when we celebrated the last sibling to turn 21. On this trip I touched at least 3 women at the park inappropriately.

I know I did more, and I know that it was my obsession the entire trip, but these are the only three who have been seared into my memory.

First, me and my family where walking along a large open space, I insisted on staying behind my family, out of sight, 'watching everyone's backs'. I remember my mom made some kind of joke about it.

As we where walking, two teenagers came up who looked just a hair older than I did. As we passed them, I made sure to bring my hand back and touch one of them on the butt. She had blonde hair, and I remember taking a peek over my shoulder to see the woman I touched looking back at me with such a look of disgust.

Second, me and my family were walking around a gentle curve, and there was another teenager up ahead standing in a circle with her friends. I remember pretending to trip forward and again touching her butt under the cover of the movement. As I walked on with my family I remember hearing 'Did something hit me in the butt?'

I was scared she would notice me and say something, and my family would know what I was doing.

The third time, and I believe the last time of the entire trip, stuck with me. In Disney World, you have to ride a bus to get anywhere. It's the main reason I dislike Disney World.

On that ride, it was night time and the bus lights weren't on.

There was another teenager sitting next to me. She seemed bit younger than I was. I spent the entire bus ride brushing my finger tips against the side of her butt or her thigh. Even when we had to change position or stand up for some reason. This went on for the entire ride. She didn't do anything. I remember feeling some kind of connection with her, taking her lack of a response as encouragement and feeling.... like we shared in a secret act of sexual expression. When we got off the bus and the lights came on I glanced at her face.

I don't remember what her expression was, but I remember feeling terrible.

Writing this disgusts me. Thinking back to what a broken, despicable human I was to these people fills my throat with vile. I'm writing this anonymously and I'm still so, so, so scared to post this online.

I am a trans woman, and it took me many years after this incident to realize this fact and start my transition.

Since then I have been catcalled and just a few days ago I was followed by a man who terrified me, I was sobbing in public on the tram once I escaped him.

The worst part about these events was how violated my sense of myself was. These men felt safe, perhaps even vindicated for hurling sexual commentary at me in public, out loud.

They reduced me to nothing but a body for their consumption, and society was so supportive of this that they felt safe doing it where anyone could see and hear.

It’s been one of the most profoundly disturbing parts of my transition. And it’s made what I did to these women all the more unbearable. I physically violated them and their humanity, shamelessly.

I’ve lived with this guilt for many years, it keeps popping up in places I’d never expect, but these three women and what I did to them plays again and again and again in my head.

I hate it so much, I’m so sorry.

I’m so so so sorry for what I did to you. I’m sorry for violating you, for participating in this f*cked up system. I’m so so so so so sorry.

I can’t even begin to describe how deeply I wish I could reach back in time and apologize. I wish I could do this in person because you deserve that.

I might have ruined your vacation. I might have destroyed your sense of ownership of your body. I want to be there, to offer myself up to your much-earned disgust and hatred of the system of oppression I represented. I regret that trip so deeply. I need to apologize to you somehow, because I’m so, so, so, so, SO SORRY!!!!

When I think of what it would be like if it had been my daughter, or my new self sitting there on the bus at 14 or 13 years old having this older boy touch me like I did? I want to puke, it is so reprehensible.

There are few things worse, and more damaging to your sense of your body than what I did. I wish I could say it to your face, you deserve at least that.

Since that horrible vacation, I have changed so many times over.

I became an ardent feminist surprising my parents perhaps. This presented so many ways of understanding the harm I caused and why I needed to be better.

I’ve learned so much about consent since then, how to request it, how to grant it, how deeply it’s needed for everything.

I’ve learned that my brother is incredibly touch sensitive, to the point that I won’t even pat him on the back without checking first. And with my romantic partners, I’ve learned to request and respect continual consent, never elevating the moment until I know I’m not repeating the kind of abuse I enacted in Disney world.

We as women deserve so much more from society.

I can never forget that I was once it’s instrument of oppression and psychological torture against us.

I am so, so very sorry for what I’ve done to you, it will never be repeated.

Please forgive me for what I’ve done.

Comments for I'm Sorry: To The Women I Harassed

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Your apology letter on sexual harassment
by: D.S.

You're a brave soul. Sexual harassment has been going on since the beginning of civilization. It's about power, not sex.

It's about feeling that those you target are not deserving of respect or the type of treatment you would want for your family members.

You were a child, not that that is an excuse but you need to forgive yourself. What happened in the past is in the past. What you do in the future is what counts.

You've shown through this letter that you are doing something. If this letter just enlightens one person and stops them from sexually harassing just one other person then you've done a great service.

Thank you for this.

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