Philadelphia police are investigating the violent beating of a transgender woman who says she was attacked in her home earlier this week.
Kendall Stephens, 34, says she was in her home with her 12-year-old and 16-year-old goddaughters on Monday night, when she heard the sounds of a brawl going on outside, with people throwing liquor bottles at each other and fighting. About 25 people had congregated outside her house in Philadelphia’s Point Breeze neighborhood.
Stephens opened her door to threaten to call 911 if they didn’t quiet down and disperse. She says some of the people in the group began to attack her, with about nine coming inside, throwing fists and cursing at her. The initial attack was captured on surveillance camera, but the attackers ripped the camera from the wall sometime during the attack.
She claims that during the assault, her attackers yelled transphobic slurs at her while one woman grabbed a square wooden planter and used it to beat Stephens about the face. Some of her attackers even pulled her hair out.
“During this assault, they were screaming transphobic slurs to me,” Stephens told Philadelphia ABC affiliate WPVI. “They called me a tranny, they said, ‘You’re a man, we’re gonna get you.’ And they were repeating this all throughout the beating, [they] said that I deserved it.”
As she was being beaten, her goddaughters looked on in horror. Stephens was eventually able to escape into her basement and lock the door. Seconds later, one of her goddaughters told her the mob had left.
Stephens checked herself into Jefferson Health’s Methodist Hospital, at which point medical staff called detectives. She was treated for a broken nose, cuts to her gums mouth, and lips, and facial swelling.
“My lips are swollen, my jaw is very sore, barely even able to chew it’s so bad,” she told WPVI.
As she was heading to the hospital, Stephens saw the first woman who had punched her getting into a car. The woman told her: “We’re coming back to finish the job.” The woman who had hit her with a wooden planter, meanwhile, was standing outside a home five doors down from hers laughing about the attack. Stephens says she’s been unable to sleep since.
“I am in fear of my life, they threatened to come back and finish the job,” Stephens said. “They already showed what kind of monsters they are, they’re savages.”
Stephens believes the attack against her constitutes a hate crime. Under city law, the Philadelphia District Attorney can pursue charges against people who target crime victims due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, although the punishment is usually small, such as a fine. But the charge becomes part of their arrest record.
Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner supports expanding hate crime protections — which would carry tougher punishments — to LGBTQ people in Pennsylvania, and has urged the General Assembly to pass such legislation. But lawmakers in the Republican-controlled House and Senate have refused to do so.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia police are trying to identify suspects using footage from the surveillance camera. The investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 215-686-TIPS (8477).
“I was grateful that [Stephens] was alive, but I am angry at some that this happened, Deja Alvarez, the co-chair of the Philadelphia LGBTQ Police Liaison committee said. “There will be an example made that it is not going to be open season on trans people.”
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