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Portland Trans Woman Attacked in Suspected Hate Crime

Portland Trans Woman Attacked in Suspected Hate Crime

“It's happening on a regular basis.” 

Portland continues to grapple with hate crimes, with a violent attack last week just the latest in a string of incidents.

Early Thursday morning, a group of three people was attacked near some street food carts. Atlas Marshall, who is transgender, says that a stranger started hurling homophobic and transphobic slurs at her after initially asking for a cigarette.

"I'm used to it, like I'm 30 years old, I, on multiple occasions have had people use terrible slurs, transphobic remarks, homophobic remarks," Marshall told KGW8, a local NBC affiliate.

But she wasn't prepared for the stranger -- who was soon joined by a second unidentified individual -- to then shove her to the ground and beat her.

Marshall's friend Austin Schunard -- a popular drag performer in the Portland area -- ran for help, but the assailants were gone by the time police arrived. Marshall has swelling and cuts after the beating, and Schunard suffered a broken nose and black eye after trying to intervene.

"There were elements of the crime that possibly met the criteria for a Bias Crime," the Portland Police Bureau wrote in a statement. "Officers notified the Bias Crime Detail and the case is now assigned to a detective."

Oregon law defines bias crimes as any criminal act that targets a victim based on the suspect's perception of the victim's race, color, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, or national origin.

This is just the latest in a wave of attacks against trans women both in Oregon and across the country.

A week earlier Marla Standing-Owl was driving for Lyft when a passenger became verbally abusive. Fearing for her safety, she attempted to end the ride, but he punched her repeatedly until she was able to repel him with pepper spray. There has been no word from Lyft about providing assistance to Standing-Owl with injuries she sustained while working for them.

In August, trans woman Lauren Jackson was attacked by Fred Joseph Costanza at an Oregon beach, fracturing her skull and jaw.

Nationally, at least 19 transgender women have been killed in the U.S. this year -- including two in the first week of September, Bee Love Slater and Bailey Reeves. Ja'leyah-Jamar was reported killed last week in Kansas City, the second killed in Missouri's largest city this year. Brooklyn Lindsey was murdered earlier this summer.

"I think that it's really important that we understand that this isn't just something that happened to us," Marshall said. "It's happening on a regular basis."

RELATED | Trans Woman Beaten on Oregon Beach Finds Support After Attack

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Matt Baume