Police in Charleston, South Carolina are investigating an alleged assault on a transgender woman who claims she was attacked and harassed by three men.
Twenty-year-old Anna Foster said she was walking alone at around 2:00 a.m. on Thursday when a group of strangers approached her and began to shout derogatory slurs at her. Foster claimed they proceeded to violently assault her — severely bruising her cheek and neck — but didn’t state what precisely took place.
Although Foster didn’t report the incident, the Charleston Police Department was notified after she posted about it on Facebook. A member of the local LGBTQ+ community reached out after the post went viral, amassing over 700 comments.
“What fucking world do we live in and why don’t I have rights?????” she asked in the post. “I DESERVE JUSTICE AND I WILL GET IT.”
Law enforcement officials told local ABC news affiliate WCIV they have attempted to meet with Foster and have been unsuccessful. Local advocates said they have also tried to assist in helping the victim get justice.
“The fear of not being believed, the fear of not being respected, not being listened to, those are all very valid fears,” Alliance for Full Acceptance Board President Colleen Condon told the news station. “It can be scary to file a police report, and that’s why we’ve offered her and certainly offer any member of our community help.”
“We’ll offer a location to meet, whatever we can do to make people feel safe about sharing all the information with police so they can properly go after it,” she added.
Foster’s apprehension to speak to law enforcement is likely due to the fact that she alleges a patrolman saw the attack occur and did not intervene to stop it. Terry Cherry, an officer with CPD, told WCIV the department has implemented LGBTQ+ competency training in recent years to ensure officers are able to appropriately respond to attacks on queer and trans individuals.
“We teach gender identity terminology, intersexuality that a lot of trans gendered [sic] women of color deal with, implicit bias, microaggressions, so officers get a good introduction to what people in the [LGBTQ+] community go through,” she said.
Cherry claimed officers are also instructed to use a trans person’s correct pronoun and name when interacting with them.
“[W]e call them by the name they want — he, she, or they, depending on what their preference is — and try to the best of our ability to respect who they recognize themselves as,” she added.
The alleged attack follows a wave of recent incidents in Charleston targeting transgender women. Since 2018, three trans people have been murdered in what police believe were killings motivated by their lived gender. The latest victim, Denali Berries Stuckey, was discovered along a highway in July after she was shot to death. She was just 29.
Across the country, at least 21 transgender people have been killed so far in 2019. Nearly all of them were Black transgender women, and the majority lost their lives as a result of gun violence.