Transgender Woman After Attack: We're Assaulted Daily

Rise in homophobic violence prompts local 'Taking back the night' protest march next weekend.

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

Over the weekend Tel Aviv police arrested 11 Israel Defense Forces soldiers on leave, who are suspected of attacking a transgender woman in south Tel Aviv. Following the initial questioning of the soldiers, who are all from the Yavneh area, it seems that the attack was apparently motivated by boredom after the group had finished partying at a local club.

N., the victim, was attacked at 2 A.M. Saturday at the place where she has been employed for more than seven years. She says the men came up alongside her in two cars with dark windows, and two of them got out, one wearing a gorilla mask and the other a mask of a monster.

One man approached her with a stun gun, threatening to shock her and trying to hit her. She says she tried to back away to avoid a confrontation but the two ran after her and refused to leave her alone.

“I didn’t show that I was afraid of them, but in the end I ran away," says N. "I wasn’t looking for trouble and didn’t want to be hurt by their shocker. When I ran away they drove after me for a bit, and the driver of the second car sprayed me with tear gas from inside the car. It burned my eyes and other parts of my body, but I wasn’t seriously hurt. It was mostly humiliating."

The attack was not an unusual occurrence for N., who adds that she and her friends suffer such harassment frequently. Indeed, she says that violent men and homophobes attack transgenders who work in south Tel Aviv almost every day.

“A lot of times guys come near us with their cars and throw eggs at us,” she says. “It’s humiliating in a way that I can’t describe, but it also gets us all dirty and then we have to go wash up, put on makeup and get dressed again. A whole day of work can be lost because of that. In my case they [the men involved] are claiming they thought I was a woman, but I don’t know if their lawyer just told them to say that. Mostly it’s violent homophobes who attack us.”

N. says that a police patrol car came to the site soon after the incident even though she hadn’t called the police. The patrolmen urged her to come to the station and file a complaint. “They were fine with me in this case,” N. says. “In many instances if the policemen are not from the area and they don’t know the girls, they also harass us and treat us contemptuously.”

A few days ago, she adds, a friend of hers who works in the same area was accosted when she went into a local supermarket to buy a drink. “They started to ask her if she shaves, and who she has sex with. She ran away so they wouldn’t hurt her. Lately it’s become very hard to work at night.”

Attacks on both male and female transgenders are increasing not just in Israel but all over the world: The Tel Aviv-based Nir Katz Center for Violence, Discrimination, and Homophobia Reports, which is organizing a protest march on Saturday against the phenomenon, reports that 238 transgenders were murdered around the world last year because of their sexual identity. Every six hours, according to the center, a transgender woman is attacked somewhere; every 36 hours someone from the community is murdered. Transgenders are often subject to humiliation and harassment from the police, it notes.

The march, under the slogan “The Transgender Protest March – Taking Back the Night,” will begin at 8 P.M. in Tel Aviv, starting at the corner of Salameh and Schocken streets, and will head toward Allenby and Rothschild streets.

Transgenders near Tel Aviv's central bus station.Credit: Nir Kafri