On Monday night, Kendall Stephens opened the door of her Point Breeze home after hearing a ruckus outside and saw about 25 people standing around watching as a man and woman fought, she said.
She told the crowd she was going to call the police and one woman cursed at her, then “just charges at me and just starts swinging at me with closed fists,” Stephens, a transgender woman, recalled Wednesday.
“She pushed her way into my home, then men and women started coming in, beating me,” said Stephens, 34.
“During this assault, they were screaming transphobic slurs to me,” she said of the group of about nine people who burst into her home. “They were calling me a [expletive] ‘tranny.’”
“This is a hate crime,” said Stephens. “For someone to come into your home and hurl transphobic slurs, that shows hateful intent.”
One of the women in the attack, which started about 10:15 p.m. picked up a square wooden planter in Stephens’ home and beat her in the head and face with it, Stephens said. Some women also pulled some of her hair out, she said.
As she was being beaten, her two goddaughters, 12 and 16, looked on in horror, she recalled. Stephens said she was able to escape into her basement and lock the door. Seconds later, she said, one of her goddaughters told her the group had left.
Officer Miguel Torres, a Philadelphia police spokesperson, said Wednesday that detectives with the South Detective Division are investigating the reported assault.
Deja Lynn Alvarez, an advocate in the transgender community who serves as a liaison to the police, said Wednesday that the attack on Stephens underscores the lack of protection for LGBTQ people in Pennsylvania’s hate-crime law.
In 2014, Philadelphia passed legislation that recognizes attacks based on gender identity or sexual orientation as hate crimes. That allows a crime targeting LGBTQ people in Philadelphia to be charged as a summary offense, said Jane Roh, spokesperson for Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.
Krasner supports expanding hate-crimes protection to LGBTQ people in state law, and urges the Pennsylvania legislature to do so, said Roh.
In Pennsylvania, a person can be charged with ethnic intimidation if an offense was committed with malicious intention toward a person based on race, color, religion, or national origin.
Stephens, a Temple University student who transferred from the Community College of Philadelphia, said after the assailants left her house, she went to her front door and saw the first woman who had punched her get into the back of a car. “We’re coming back to finish the job,” Stephens said the woman told her before the car left.
Meanwhile, she said the woman who had hit her with a wooden planter was standing outside a home about five doors down from hers “laughing” after the attack.
She was treated at Jefferson Health’s Methodist Hospital for various injuries — including a broken nose, cuts to her gums, mouth, and lips, and facial swelling.
She said she and her goddaughters feel traumatized.
“I don’t understand why this would happen to me,” she said. “This is very frightening.”