The transgender community takes on SEPTA’s TransPass (ironically enough) Tuesday. That little “M” or “F” sticker identifying a rider’s gender is enough to cause economic hardship, harassment and lack of access to public transportation for the transgender community, according to Riders Against Gender Exclusion (RAGE).
So, RAGE wants the stickers eliminated. In 2007, a driver told Charlene Arcila, a trans-identified female, she couldn’t use her TransPass on the SEPTA bus she took to work daily, according to Philadelphia Weekly. So, she got a male sticker in an attempt to avoid frustration and was told yet again that she could not use her pass. “The driver said, ‘You can’t use that,’ and I said, ‘Why can’t you all make up your mind?’ That last time two years ago, I’d had enough,” she told the paper. After feeling forced to pay full fare or use tokens, Arcila took action, filing a complaint against SEPTA with the help of Equality Advocates Pennsylvania, the paper reported. The complaint claims gender stickers violate the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance and federal and state Equal Protection Clauses. Arcila is not alone. Christina Molieri, a masculine-identified lesbian, was forced to pay full fare on several occasions despite owning a TransPass with a “F” sticker, she told the paper. “The problem is by societal definitions I don’t look female,” Molieri said. “Not only is it humiliating to be called out in front of an entire bus or kicked off, it puts my safety at risk.” SEPTA, however, argues the stickers are necessary to stop people from sharing their passes and are not discriminatory in intent, according to Equality Advocates Legal Director Amara Chaudhry. RAGE is fighting the gender stickers at a meeting with the SEPTA Citizens Advisory Committee Tuesday.