LGBTQ activists gathered in Elmhurst, Queens on August 11 to denounce a wave of anti-trans violence facing Latinx communities of color in New York City.
LGBTQ advocates at the immigrant advocacy group Make the Road New York and survivors of attacks said six trans and gender-non-conforming people were assaulted in Brooklyn and Queens during the last two weeks, including in Bushwick and Jackson Heights.
Jennifer, a transgender woman of Queens and survivor of one of the attacks, said she was waiting for a taxi with a group of friends in Jackson Heights when a man threw rocks and glass bottles at them.
“I ran away but fell down, and the man continued to attack me,” she told reporters at the presser. “I tried to fight to save my life and ended up with a broken arm. It is outrageous that trans women are the target of transphobic attacks just because of who we are and how we look.”
The advocates offered a series of proposed solutions to confront the wave of attacks, including calls to shift funds from the NYPD to instead focus on education, bystander intervention training, and de-escalation tactics. Mateo Guerrero, an organizer for the Trans Immigrant Project (TRIP), an LGBTQ immigrant advocacy division of Make the Road New York, said the NYPD has neglected the needs of Latinx transgender people.
“We know that the police the only thing that they do is cause more traumatic experiences for trans communities of color by misgendering them, not listening to them, and failing to provide interpretation [services],” Guerrero said.
Bianey Garcia, a TRIP organizer at Make the Road New York, said police officers are failing to do their part to confront the transphobic attacks in the area.
“Often survivors are not provided translation by the police or respected by their gender identity,” Garcia explained. “We need New York City to invest in community education programs to reduce, de-escalate, and prevent violence against trans, gender non-conforming, non-binary, and queer communities in order to create safer neighborhoods.”
Queens state lawmakers Jessica Ramos, Catalina Cruz, and Jessica González-Rojas echoed calls for the city to invest in services aimed at reducing anti-LGBTQ incidents. Ramos said students LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum should be part of a long-term solution to repel transphobic violence and other forms of hostility toward queer communities.
“It is not enough to build a more tolerant society,” Ramos said. “We need a society that respects each and every human being regardless of who they love, regardless of their gender expression, and regardless of how they identify.”
The most recent city budget included a $2 million increase for LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum, which is up from $800,000 last year for a total of $2.8 million. According to the budget, the funding will “support the needs of LGBTQ youth and address the intersectionality of race, sexual orientation, and gender identity through [the Department of Education’s (DOE)] general curriculum.”
A trans advocate, who was not named at the presser, said the violence disproportionately hits transgender sex workers — but their concerns are often dismissed by authorities.
“We don’t need blood to demonstrate the violence in our streets,” they said. “We’re human beings. We don’t need blood to show that we exist.”
Activists are also calling for bilingual response teams to aid trans victims of violence, among other services. The press conference comes nearly a week after organizers at Make the Road New York organized the 10th annual Trans Latinx March, which highlighted a range of issues, including the growing homophobic and transphobic attacks targeting the trans community.
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