Trans Person Beaten Bloody on Capitol Hill

Leaving a fundraiser for the Orlando gay nightclub massacre, a Seattle trans person was bashed.

Wednesday night, a transgender person was beaten and choked on Capitol Hill in an apparent hate attack.

Michael Volz was walking back to their car from a queer benefit show when a man approached, said “Happy Pride!” and attacked, according to their GoFundMe page:

As he, was punching and choking Michael, he said, “show me your tits you tranny cunt” Michael some how made it back to their house. Michael contacted myself and their friend Sharon. Sharon drove Michael to the hospital and I met them at the Emergency Room. Currently, michael is home. They have some stitches, abrasions, and a lot of bruising.

The show Michael was returning from was a benefit at Neumos to raise money for victims of the June 12 Orlando massacre, where 49 people at a queer nightclub were killed and another 53 wounded by a gunman.

The SPD Blotter has further details:

The victim left the fundraiser around 11:30 PM and was walking near 11th Avenue and East Pike Street when the suspect approached the victim.

“Hey, Happy Pride,” the suspect said before punching the victim in the face. The suspect then grabbed the victim by the throat, continued his assault and used a transgender slur during the attack. The victim lost consciousness and the suspect fled the scene.

Upon regaining consciousness, the victim was able to drive home and contact a friend, who drove the victim to the hospital. On the way, they stopped and contacted police.

“It’s devastating for our community,” says Danni Askini of the Gender Justice League. “Michael is very close to a number of us, and has worked on a number of projects…To see somebody that’s so integral to our community attacked in such a violent and devastating way, it really strikes fear in the heart of our whole community.”

Askini believes that public leaders are partly responsible for fomenting violence against trans and queer people. “We face six anti trans bills in the [state] legislature, and are facing an anti trans ballot measure,” she says. “The impact of these bills is they send a message that violence like this is acceptable.” She also lays some of the responsibility at Mayor Ed Murray’s feet, saying that he has not yet adequately implemented recommendations from an LGBT task force convened last year. “We’ve been banging the drums for three years about these attacks,” says Askini, “and I feel like there’s been very little progress on the policy front. It has not manifested in new funds or new attention by the city.” The city has, however, recently instituted a Safe Place program, in which local businesses place rainbow stickers in their windows to signal their sympathy with victims of hate violence. Though there are many such bestickered businesses in the part of Capitol Hill where Volz was attacked, they do not appear to have sought assistance from any of them.

Friday afternoon, Mayor Murray responded to news of the attack with a press release which read in part:

This attack is deplorable, and my sympathies are with the young person who was harmed. The attack was meant to injure and to create an environment of fear during Pride. As a City, we worked closely with the community to identify ways to increase visibility, safety and community awareness. For example, the Seattle Police Department will continue the Safe Place program to identify local businesses that will shelter victims of harassment until officers arrive. This program is so popular communities throughout the state have started to adopt it.

Violence against queer people on Capitol Hill, Seattle’s longtime gayborhood, has seemingly been on the rise in recent years, though CHS reports that official stats may be partly skewed by improvements in Seattle police’s hate crime reporting systems. During last year’s Pride, hundreds took to the streets demanding “Not One More” hate attack in Capitol Hill.

Tonight is the fourth Trans* Pride Seattle march, leaving from Broadway and E. John at 6 p.m. Askini says that several of the scheduled speakers know Volz, and she’s “certain” that the attack will come up. You can donate to Volz’s GoFundMe page here.

Seattle police are searching for the attacker. From the Blotter:

The suspect is described as a white male in his 20s, with brown hair and a partial beard. He was wearing an orange or copper-colored sweatshirt, blue jeans, and sandals at the time of the incident.

Anyone with information on the attacker is asked to contact police at (206)233-5000.

(This post has been updated with information from the SPD Blotter and Mayor Murray’s reaction.)