One of Georgia’s leading and most well-known trans activists was savagely beaten up at a park in the capital Tbilisi.
Miranda Pagava was getting out of a taxi near Vake Park at about 4am on Saturday morning (28 February). It was then a man started calling out to her.
‘A stranger called out to me and told me that it was very nice and that I should go over to him,’ Pagava wrote on her Facebook page.
When the 23-year-old ignored the man’s attention he started becoming aggressive. So she tried to find refuge in a nearby shop.
The man started screaming abuse at her, shouting ‘are you a boy or a girl?’.
Pagava tried to get help from shopkeepers and people in the area by asking them to call the police. But nobody came to her rescue. Even the market’s security guards refused to help her saying that it was a job for the police.
As she tried to escape the man allegedly attacked her with an iron bar. The blow caused a three centimeter (1.2 inches) gash to her left eye.
Her injuries were so severe, a friend had to help Pagava type the Facebook post about the assault.
Pagava did not go to the nearest hospital because she was afraid of facing transphobic treatment.
‘I refused to go the hospital because I knew that there homophobic doctors there, and I did not have the strength to deal with such stress,’ she wrote.
‘I will publish this (Facebook) post with the help of a friend who helped me write it because I can’t see from my left eye.’
According to Pagava, police have arrested a man in connection to her attack.
But the assault has left her terrified and she is planning to leave Georgia for her own safety and to not be discriminated against because of her gender identity.
‘In the near future I am going to apply for refugee status in a European country. I don’t have enough strength to deal with so many “toxic people”,’ she told Rustavi 2 TV.
‘I’ve got a university degree, but I would like to take an additional law degree course and build a career in that particular field.
‘People show aggression towards me because of my gender identity. Due to that I can’t find a job, and that despite my academic background and skills.’
Georgia is of only a few post-Soviet countries has laws in place that protect the LGBTI community from discrimination.
But the LGBTI community still face a lot of violence and persecution.
In 2016, Zizi Shekeladze died in hospital from her injuries after being attacked at a bus stop in Tbilisi. She was bludgenoed with a concrete block and her throat was cut.
Zizi and Pagava’s assaults are just a few examples of the violence trans people face in Georgia.
The Equality Movement – where Pagava is involved as an activist – has called for the Ministry of Internal Affairs to raise awareness about transphobia.
‘Transgender women are the most marginalized group in the society and they are frequently abused on the grounds of gender identity,’ the Movement said in a statement.
‘Therefore, we hope that Government of Georgia will create effective policy for reacting to hate crimes, including by setting up an independent, effective and human rights oriented mechanism of investigation.’