Police ‘cracked jokes’ while trans woman bled on the floor after horrifying transphobic attack in her own home
Kendall Stephens, a trans woman who survived a horrific transphobic attack in her own home, has described the shocking reaction by police who “cracked jokes while she bled onto the floor”.
Warning: contains graphic descriptions of violence against a trans person.
Kendall Stephens, a community advocate and Temple University student, was brutally attacked by a group of people in her own home in August this year.
The 34-year-old was studying and enjoying a quiet night in with her two goddaughters, aged 12 and 16, when she heard a fight breaking out outside her house in South Philadelphia.
When the group refused to disperse, she called emergency services, but one of the women turned on her and punched her in the face. The attacked and her friends then forced their way into Stephens’s house to continue the assault.
Recalling the attack in an interview with Human Rights Campaign, Stephens said: “I ended up in my dining room getting attacked by four women at all sides of me, and then suddenly one of the women picked up a wooden decorative planter and began hitting me about my head and face with it, causing me to become concussed and black out momentarily.
“Throughout the attack the woman referred to me as a ‘man’ and ‘tranny’.
“The assault did not end there. Several men stormed into the home as well and pulled the women away, but did not pull them away before getting a few hits in as well and calling me the N word and a ‘f**king tranny’.”
Police refused to arrest trans woman’s attacker.
Stephens was left with her nose broken in two places, bruised ribs, swelling on her face, a head contusion, “a busted lip” and damaged gum vessels that caused two of her teeth to become necrotic.
When the police arrived, however, they had little sympathy for the trans woman who had been brutally beaten.
“The responding police officers were very unhelpful,” said Stephens.
“They were belligerent and unsympathetic and refused to arrest one of my attackers, who I had ID’d to them (she was a few doors down continuing to hurl transphobic slurs while they were there).
“Furthermore, they said that by looking at my injuries, they regarded the incident as a simple assault, and as such, I had to make a private criminal complaint.”
While this was happening, her husband arrived home, and they both begged with police to take action. They left without confirming the attackers’ identities or making any arrests.
The commanding sergeant harassed me, trivialized my injuries, and cracked jokes with his subordinates while I bled onto the floor.
Stephens went to the police district, but said: “I was met with the same hostile energy from the commanding sergeant, who harassed me, trivialized my injuries, and cracked jokes with his subordinates while I bled onto the floor.
“Even when a representative I called in from the mayor’s office came to my aid to speak on my behalf to the sergeant, he was equally as dismissive with her.
“Finally, we gave up trying to get the charges enhanced and I was driven to the hospital.
“No one should be in a position to have to advocate on their behalf so fervently when in a state of extreme duress, but this is par for the course when it comes to trans people in just about every interpersonal issue we have to endure.”
Her story isn’t unusual, she added, and police often harm the trans community “in irreparable ways”.
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“They often misgender us in the media and on police reports and fail to put forth the same energy and effort into our cases than that of the general public,” she said.
“Unsurprisingly, many of our murders and attacks become unsolved mysteries, which only emboldens those who wish to attack us to target us without fear of consequence.”
Unfortunately to many, trans lives do not matter.
Stephens said she hopes that by sharing her story she can help “people understand that trans people everywhere are under siege due to rampant transphobia in the public”.
She said: “We were never safe outside of our homes, but now we are not even safe inside of our own homes… Unfortunately to many, trans lives do not matter.
“We have been categorically rendered invisible by the whole of society and without legislative protection that is uniform and permanent, the murders, the suicides, the attacks, the oppression, the discrimination, the hurt, pain, suffering and trauma will undoubtedly persist.”