A visiting couple alleges gender discrimination in a rideshare car | Guest Commentary | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

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Opinion » Guest Commentary

A visiting couple alleges gender discrimination in a rideshare car

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My husband Peter and I are visitors to Bend for the month of September. We live in the UK.

On Sept. 11 we had our first baby at St. Charles via our wonderful surrogate, a Bend resident. Peter and I are same sex parents. Together 21 years, it took us 14 years to put together funds to embark on this journey. We have, in our lives, faced homophobia.  I grew up in India where it was culturally taboo to be gay. We were assaulted by a gang of young teens in our third year together. But we had love as children – love is something that accepts a person completely. That love sustained us. It made us determined to build our family. 

The day after Colette was born, we ordered an Uber to take our baby from the hospital to our temporary Bend apartment. Before it arrived, I sent an SMS to the driver, "We're first time parents. We'd appreciate your help with the car seat, if you know how."  

She assumed the parents were a mom and dad.  She leapt out of her car and said, "I want a picture with the new family and the baby!"  

Then she saw my Peter and I. She saw our one-day-old baby. She said, coldly, "Where is the mother?" The hospital nurse who was there to wave us off said to the driver, "This baby has two dads." 

The driver responded, to myself, Peter and the nurse aggressively. "Well, neither of them gave birth, did they?" she declared, with angry finality. Needless to say, she didn't want a "family photo" anymore.

In the car, I tried to defuse the situation. I asked her if she was just starting her evening shift. She snapped back, "I work when I want." Then she tuned into a Christian radio channel. The Christian music was at full blast. She glared at us through the mirror. Hostility was palpable.

Pete and I, exhausted after 48 hours caring for our baby at the hospital, were stunned that our first journey with our baby, which should have been full of joy had turned into hatred for us. Defenseless baby Colette sitting quietly in the seat. The journey was mercifully short. No goodbye from her.  I thanked her for the drive – British politeness in awkward situations—she turned away from us.

The incident has cast a pall over our new family. It's shaken us badly. We're scared of leaving our Bend apartment. We're frightened we'll encounter other such scary incidents. We're reminded of the time we were beaten up.

Alain de Botton says, "Those who make us feel bad about ourselves are not necessarily in possession of the truth about us." Whether we use it or not, life goes – we will use it, and make our daughter's life full of love and joy.  Unlike the Uber driver, we are not Christians.  But the lesson of Christianity—to be kind, to forgive—we will teach those lessons to Colette.

Editor's note: Shroff also shared Uber's response, which included the following: "Per our Community Guidelines, behavior by a rider or driver that is insensitive to race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc. is not appropriate and not tolerated. We will be reaching out to the driver to investigate this matter." Uber also refunded the couple's ride.

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