A trans woman who was brutally attacked in Dallas, Texas, has spoken publicly about her ordeal for the first time.
Muhlaysia Booker was violently beaten earlier this month in what police are treating as a hate crime.
At an emotional press conference on Saturday (20 April) Booker thanked those who had supported her and called for justice.
‘This time it was me. The next time could be someone else close to you,’ a tearful Booker said.
Dallas police have arrested one man in connection with the assault.
It was held outside Abounding Prosperity, Inc, a Dallas-based nonprofit organization. The NGO provides health, social and economic services, particularly to gay and bisexual men, transgender women and their families, NBC 5 Dallas Fort-Worth reports.
‘The community needs to step up’
Booker’s attack took place in broad daylight following a traffic incident on Friday, 12 April. The attack was caught on video, with the footage going viral online the following weekend.
The video shows several men repeatedly kicking and punching Booker, before dragging her along the ground. The video ends with three other women helping Booker up.
Dallas police said that the perpetrator was paid $200 to carry out the attack.
29-year-old Edward Thomas has since been arrested and charged with aggravated assault. Thomas is currently being held in Dallas County jail on a $75,000 bond.
A large number of Dallas’ LGBTI community showed up in support of Booker on Saturday, alongside members of the police.
‘This time I can stand before you, whereas in other scenarios we are at a memorial. Our time to seek justice is now. If not now, when?’ 23-year-old Booker asked.
Major Elaine Page of the Dallas police urged a call to action from local LGBTI rights supporters.
‘The more shocking [thing] to me, as a police officer, is the community that stood around and did nothing,’ Page said.
‘The community needs to step up.’
‘Thriving LGBTQ community’
Since the attack, Booker has received an outpouring of support.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings denounced the attack, saying: ‘I am extremely angry about what appears to be mob violence against this woman.
‘Those who did this do not represent how Dallasites feel about our thriving LGBTQ community. We will not stand for this kind of behavior,’ Rawlings added.
Writing on Facebook, Booker thanked people for their support: ‘Thank you so much its a blessing being lucky enough to witness the love and respect im getting and thank you to all my genuine friends that been with me through this journey and knowing the real me knowing nobody deserves that.’
According to Human Rights Campaign, 22 transgender people were killed in the US last year.
The FBI has recorded 7,175 hate crimes in the US in 2017. Among them, 1,130 were based on sexual orientation bias and 119 on gender identity bias.
The FBI also found that since 2013, 95 percent of the 128 transgender killings documented in the US were women, and more than 100 of those victims were people of color.