Local News

Transgender woman on restroom incident: 'It felt hateful'

Posted January 10, 2019 4:57 p.m. EST
Updated January 10, 2019 7:08 p.m. EST

— A transgender woman who said she was assaulted in the bathroom of Glenwood South's popular Milk Bar last month said Thursday that the incident was "traumatic."

Kai, 29, said she went to the bathroom at Milk Bar on Dec. 9 to fix her hair and makeup when two women started aggressively touching her and exposing themselves.

"It became a very uncomfortable situation, something I just did not expect to happen," she said. "It was just a very, very scary, very claustrophobic, traumatic situation that happened, just being groped and taken advantage of."

The behavior, she says, kept on at the bar, where the bartender demanded they stop.

"I sat at the bar for a few minutes trying to compose myself, but I felt like the tears coming," she said. "I went into the bathroom to try to calm myself down, and that's where I had the panic attack in the middle of the bathroom floor.”

Kai said she initially didn't report the assault to police because she worried they would not take a transgender woman seriously. But she changed her mind after about 12 hours.

"I did not want this to be a situation where I was basically sweeping this under the rug," she said.

Amber Harrell, 38, and Jessica Fowler, 31, are both charged with second-degree kidnapping and sexual battery in connection with the incident.

Kai said she was targeted because she is transgender. "It felt hateful. It felt like you’re different from us and we want to make fun of the fact that you’re different from us," she said.

"I feel degraded. I feel confused. I feel hurt. The lewd comments and lewd actions that were said and done, I just felt like I was a target," she said.

She emphasized that she does not want either of the accused to be targeted in her defense.

"I don't wish them ill will, and I don't want them to become targets because I know how it feels to be a target. I just want an apology, to start with," she said.

She says she had never before felt uncomfortable in a public restroom, although she doesn't hold Milk Bar responsible in any way.

"Now, when I go into a restroom and women are friendly to me, I tense up and go, 'Is this part two? Am I being targeted?'" she said.

Fowler and Harrell are due back in court at the end of January.