LGBTQ members speak out against recent acts of violence in Queens

Assembly member Catalina Cruz was shocked by Jennifer’s story. (Photo by Dean Moses)

LGBTQ residents shared their stories of recent transphobic violence while demanding an end to the attacks at the Manuel de Dios Unanue Triangle, also known as the Lorena Borjas Triangle, in Elmhurst on Wednesday, Aug. 11.

Six trans and gender non-conforming community members were assaulted over the last two weeks in Queens and Brooklyn, according to organizers with Make the Road New York (MRNY), an organization working to uplift immigrant and working-class communities.

Survivors, organizers and community leaders demanded an end to the recent homophobic and transphobic violence, suggesting the NYPD budget be spent on de-escalation training in neighborhoods across the city.

Jennifer, a trans woman and Queens resident, spoke about being assaulted this past weekend while she and her friends waited for a taxi. 

“We were attacked by a man who threw rocks and glass bottles at us,” Jennifer said. “I ran away but fell down, and the man continued to attack me. 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.”

Jennifer shows scars left by intolerance. (Photo by Dean Moses)

MRNY member and community activist Bianey Garcia said the police are at fault for failing to protect their community. 

“The police do not prevent any of the attacks on our community, and in fact, cause more damage and trauma to those who have survived violence in our neighborhoods,” Garcia said. “We need New York City to invest in community education programs to reduce, de-escalate and prevent violence against transgender, non-conforming, non-binary and queer communities in order to create safer neighborhoods.”

The NYPD did not immediately respond to QNS’ request for comment before press time.

The organizers were joined by state Senator Jessica Ramos and state Assembly members Catalina Cruz and Jessica González-Rojas. 

Ramos chanted “trans power” at the presser, saying the violence facing this community is tragic. 

“What is true is our advocacy for more resources in order to combat the hate that has perpetrated on our streets and results in traumatizing violence against our neighbors,” Ramos said.

Senator Jessica Ramos listened to survivors discuss their experience with violence. (Photo by Dean Moses)

Ramos called for more effective education and a curriculum that is more inclusive to every person. 

”It’s not enough to build a more tolerant society; we need a society that respects each and every human being regardless of who they love or their gender expression and regardless of how they identify,” Ramos said.

Anni Villanueva, another member of MRNY, spoke about her own experience of fearing violent attacks as a trans woman. 

Villanueva said she had suffered an attack in Peru where she almost lost her life. Her attackers attempted to cut her throat. She moved to the U.S. a couple of months ago but still fears violence. 

“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 community.”

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.”

Additional reporting by Dean Moses and Tat Bellamy-Walker.