San Francisco transgender community reports uptick in targeted violence 

click to enlarge At least four major incidents since January are showing an increase in crime towards transgender people.
  • At least four major incidents since January are showing an increase in crime towards transgender people.

Recent reports involving attacks against transgender people in the Mission district have community leaders searching for ways to protect the vulnerable group.

EL/LA, a Mission-based organization for transgender women, has heard of at least four major incidents since January, including a date rape and a vicious assault in front of a bar, office coordinator Susana Caceres said Wednesday.

The latter incident occurred Feb. 26 at a bar at Capp and 16th streets, Caceres said. Two transgender women who were drinking there reportedly were told by a group of men “to stop pretending” because they were “really men.”

The men eventually followed the  women out of the bar and attempted to pull the pants off one of them, Caceres said.

The friend of the victim who was being attacked attempted to intervene, Caceres said, but ended up getting struck in the head from behind and knocked unconscious. The suspects fled and no arrests have been made.

Not all the attack reports have been hate crimes. One involved a date rape victim who was too ashamed to report the incident to police or get medically evaluated, Caceres said.

The lack of reporting of incidents such as these appears to be one of the major issues within the transgender community, and it makes it difficult to measure the scope of the problem.

Of the four incidents EL/LA has heard about, only the Feb. 26 attack was reported to police, Caceres said. Victims are either embarrassed or don’t trust police, she said.

“A lot of times, they’re undocumented, ?so they fear going to police,” Caceres said.

However, The City’s policy is not to report undocumented victims of crimes to immigration authorities, police Officer Albie Esparza said.

“Regardless of your background, a victim is a victim,” he said.

Esparza added that all San Francisco police officers receive sensitivity training and take all incidents seriously.

“You can either call police, have them come to your home, and also walk into any police station and speak with officers there,” he said.

Those who fear going to police on their own can request a member of a local advocacy group to accompany them, Esparza said.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor David Campos, who represents the Mission, requested a hearing to discuss public safety strategies to protect transgender people.

Campos said he wants police and community groups to come up with “creative ways to prevent, address and respond to the transphobic violence which exists in our city.”

The supervisor is scheduled to attend a rally hosted by EL/LA at 6:30 tonight at Mission and 16th streets.

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