On Monday, in Jackson Heights, I proudly joined the sixth Trans-Latina march to demand respect and dignity for the transgender community.
Hundreds of trans immigrant women and our allies marched through the streets of our neighborhoods to demand a halt to the hate attacks against our community and the abuses that many have suffered in private immigrant detention centers.
I’m a survivor of a hate attack. In 2008 in Jackson Heights, I was assaulted and beaten by three men. Two of them grabbed my hands and the other began hitting me with a chain. As they attacked me, they yelled transphobic slurs. After a few minutes that felt like an eternity, I managed to escape and run away, eventually finding some friends on Roosevelt Avenue. My friends stopped a police car and tried to explain what had happened to me. Despite being able to look at me, with the blood coming out of my face and my clothing torn, the only thing the cops said was that I should go home, and that what happened to me was just because I was out on the street at that time of night.
Attacks like mine in 2008 are not isolated incidents. In 2016 and 2017 alone, there have been twenty cases of attack on trans women in the Jackson Heights, Corona and Woodside area. And in that same year and a half, at least 37 trans people, primarily transgender women of color, have been killed all over the country.
Our community also suffers from abuse and abuse within jails and detention centers, especially in private centers where large corporations keep us in cages to make a profit. They often hold trans women like me in cells with men, where we suffer sexual harassment and violence. That’s why, along the march route Monday, we also stopped in front of Chase Bank. As a bank that finances the country’s largest private prison and immigrant detention corporations, GEO Group and CoreCivic, Chase has to take responsibility for the suffering it is supporting and take immediate action to address it.
I marched Monday in my neighborhood to send a clear message: the trans community will not tolerate any hateful attacks.
It is time to raise our voices so that more trans survivors of violence, discrimination, and other abuses lose their fear and call for justice.
We went out to demand that these attacks stop and Queens residents know that the trans community is not alone. We are united, and we demand to be treated with respect and dignity.
Perla Torres is a member of Make the Road New York, the largest grassroots community organization in New York offering services and organizing the immigrant community. On Twitter: @maketheroadny.