real life

Deni Todorovič tried to get a taxi. Three drivers outright refused.

When Deni Todorovič was about to leave for an event at the Australian Open, the only thing running through their head was how to get there.

The author, activist and Mamamia podcast host (whose pronouns are they/them), was staying at a hotel in Melbourne and running late. There was a taxi rank outside; it seemed like the obvious choice to jump in one and go.

"I saw the first cab, opened the door and sat in the car. [The driver] looked in his rear-view mirror and was like, 'What are you?'" Deni told Mamamia.

Deni knew exactly what they meant. They tried to move past it, saying they didn't understand the question, and calmly explaining where they needed to go. 

"You need to get out of my car. I'm not taking you," the taxi driver said.

Watch: Deni tells Mia Freedman their coming out story. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

After getting out, Deni went up to the second taxi in the rank. This time, the driver was female.

"That made me even more sad," Deni recalled.


The driver said to them: "I'm sorry, I'm not going to take you."

By the time Deni got into the third taxi, they told the driver they were feeling unsafe, and just needed to get to Rod Laver Arena.

"That's not my problem. I'm not police, I'm the taxi driver. Go find someone else, because I'm not taking you either," the driver told them.

"I'm now sweating, it's hot, [I'm] about to cry," Deni told Mamamia.

After three attempts, the creator offered the fourth driver double whatever the previous ones would've charged them.

The driver was polite and agreed, saying, "It would be my pleasure to take you."

The irony of it all: Deni was on the way to the Australian Open's annual Pride Day.


In case you haven't seen them on social media, Deni is a vocal activist for queer rights, and regularly discusses the topics of gender, sexuality and equality on their platforms.

They also love fashion - having worked in the industry for over a decade and now co-hosting Mamamia's fashion podcast, What Are You Wearing?, they're a leader in the de-gendering fashion movement. Their style ethos? Wear clothes that authentically feel like "you".

Although Deni has no issue being authentic on social media or in public, the content creator noted that when people take issue with them, their tendency is to avoid confrontation - and for good reason.

"When I experience any safety issues on the street by people bullying me, I don't like confrontation because I know that anger and hostility can often turn physical and that's just not how I roll," they said.

Although family and friends asked Deni whether they got the drivers' license plates, the incidents happened so quickly that they didn't even think about it.


"I went into survival [mode]," they said.

Finding safe transport remains a challenge for those in the queer community. 

At a recent photoshoot, Deni was told by two queer people on set how they hoped their rideshare driver would be a woman.

One of them, a drag queen, recalled how drivers have kicked her out of their car when in drag, while taxis have also refused to pick her up.


"It's a real problem in the queer community," Deni said.

And it doesn't stop at taxis and ridesharing apps. 

Many queer people don't feel comfortable on public transport either, experiencing bullying or singling out from the general public.

"So you're not safe on a tram, you're not safe on a train, you're not safe in a rideshare, how are you supposed to get anywhere?" Deni asked.

Despite the progress which has been made, the creator knows it won't be the first or last time they face harassment when entering a vehicle.

"Everything is a double-edged sword," they said.

"On the one hand, you have Pride; you have support from the community. On the other hand, you can't even get a f***ing taxi."

So what's the solution?

Although Deni has a hundred and one things on their plate already, the content creator hopes to start a ridesharing app just for queer people.

The idea exists in San Francisco where there is a large queer community, but not in Australia.

As Deni says, the drivers don't need to be queer themselves, but they must be allies. 

We hope to see that option on the streets soon.

Feature image: Instagram/@stylebydeni