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Transgender Activists Host Rally Against Transphobia in Jackson Heights After String of Attacks

Trans activist Mateo Guerrero speaks at a rally against transphobia in Jackson Heights on Wednesday (Make the Road New York via Twitter)

Aug. 12, 2021 By Allie Griffin

A group of trans and queer activists held a rally against transphobia in Jackson Heights Wednesday in response to a string of recent bias attacks.

The activists joined members of the organization Make the Road New York at Manuel De Dios Unanue Triangle (83rd Street and Roosevelt Avenue) to bring attention to six incidents in which a trans or gender non-conforming person was assaulted in Queens or Brooklyn over the last two weeks.

Jennifer, a trans woman from Queens who didn’t provide her last name, spoke about how she was assaulted over the weekend as she waited for a taxi with friends.

“Last Saturday, while my friends and I waited for a taxi we were attacked by a man who threw rocks and glass bottles at us,” she said. “I ran away, but fell down, and the man continued to attack me.”

Jennifer said she fought for her life and broke her arm in the scuffle.

“It is outrageous that trans women are the target of transphobic attacks just because of who we are and how we look,” she said.

Another trans woman from Queens said she came to the U.S. a couple months ago after being brutally attacked in her native Peru for being trans.

“As a trans woman, I have previously suffered an attack in Peru where I almost lost my life, when my attackers attempted to cut my throat,” said Anni Villanueva, who is also a member of Make the Road New York.

With the recent string of transphobic assaults in Queens and Brooklyn, Villanueva said she fears she will again become a victim.

“With the ongoing attacks I’m afraid I will suffer another attack simply for being a trans woman,” Villanueva said. “However, I will continue to raise my voice because I know the importance of demanding a full stop to the violence against my TGNCIQ+ community.”

The activists called for greater investments in underserved neighborhoods in order to reduce the violence. They also said more education on de-escalation tactics is badly needed.

State Sen. Jessica Ramos joined the rally and echoed the demands to end the attacks against trans and queer individuals.

“The violence against our TGNC [trans and gender non-conforming] neighbors needs to stop,” Ramos said. “No one should live in fear.”

She said more resources are needed to stop the violence.

“It is not enough to simply preach tolerance,” Ramos said. “We must invest in education that fosters respect for all in our schools and at home.”

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