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Transgender Lyft Driver Attacked by Passenger in Portland

Lyft driver Marla Standing-Owl

A Lyft driver in Portland, Ore., says a passenger assaulted her because she’s transgender, and police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

Marla Standing-Owl told Portland TV station KGW she picked the passenger up at the Duniway Hotel the evening of September 6. He was drunk and had a problem with how the Lyft app had entered his destination.

“He says something, refers to me, you’re nothing but a man,” she said. “I told him I don’t need bigotry in my car, and that’s when he snapped.” While she was driving, he hit her several times in the head and neck.

She finally pulled over, got out her pepper spray, and sprayed the man. He ran, and police pursued him but could not find him. They are still investigating, and they consider the attack a bias crime.

Standing-Owl said she believes crimes against transgender people are underreported, “because we’re not taken seriously, because we don’t count as people. In most people’s eyes we’re trash.”

She has driven for Lyft for about a year, but said she is quitting now because of the potential danger from passengers. She said the company hasn’t been particularly helpful.

The ride-sharing company released the following statement to KGW: “Safety is fundamental to Lyft. What the driver described is frightening, and the rider’s access to Lyft has been permanently removed. We responded immediately and have been in close contact with the driver since the incident to offer our support. We have reached out to the authorities and will continue to help in any way we can.”

Constant reports of violence against our community are difficult to read, especially as we continue to face historic rates. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach out to the Anti-Violence Project’s free bilingual (English/Spanish) national hotline at (212) 714-1141 or report online for support.

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