In the same day the news reported the incident about Skylar and The Purse Incident, a more serious event with similar undertones occurred in Berkeley where a man was lit on fire for wearing a skirt. I will let that sink in for a moment.
Per the Oakland Tribune, “Police on Tuesday arrested a 16-year-old Oakland High School student suspected of lighting a man’s skirt on fire aboard an AC Transit bus Monday night, causing second- and third-degree burns, police said.
The victim, 18-year-old Luke Fleischman, was in stable condition Tuesday at the St. Francis Memorial Hospital burn unit in San Francisco, his mother Debbie Fleischman said. He is going to require massive skin grafting and a long recovery period, she said.”
The article went on to explain, “the victim, a senior at Maybeck High School in Berkeley, does not identify as male or female but rather as nonbinary gender, an umbrella term covering any gender identity that does not fit within the gender binary.” While its good that this was explained so people can become educated on issues related to gender, there also need not be an explanation at all. Luke Fleischman was wearing a skirt because he wanted to. Because he felt comfortable in it. Because he is free to.
Berkeley has long been a place where diversity and subcultures are the norm. Its mind blowing to realize that not only can this happen anywhere but it happened THERE. As the news reports further information on this event I ponder questions that cannot be answered yet. What affect will this have on the city as a safe haven for people with alternate lifestyles? Was this event a direct statement on a man wearing a skirt and someones overwhelming rage at seeing him or is this a statement being issued to all Berkeley residents?
The act of lighting someone on fire has many implications. It is a horrifying act with permanent effects. It can not only maim but it can kill and completely destroy. The fact that a person was so filled with rage at the sight of a (biological) man in a skirt is horrifying and reprehensible. This person had many choices: they could have chosen a different bus route, read a book, averted their eyes or minded their own damn business altogether. Yet this person took it upon themselves to make sure Luke Fleischman wouldn’t be able to comfortably wear a skirt again.
Supporters had donated nearly $2,000 as of Tuesday night. The page can be found at http://fundly.com/helping-sasha-fleischman-have-a-speedy-recovery.
- Calif. man set on fire on bus faces long recovery (cnsnews.com)
- Supporters Rally for Berkeley Student Set on Fire on AC Transit Bus (blogs.kqed.org)