Police investigating reported assault after transgender woman says she was attacked

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A local transgender woman is speaking out after she says she was the victim of a gender-based crime.

It was around noon on Monday. Brianna Rocais, 23, was sitting at a bus stop on Central Avenue when two men suddenly came up to her and punched her in the head.

“I was like, ‘Excuse me. Did you just hit me? Why did you just hit me?’” she recalled.

Rocais said the two men walked away laughing and shouted vulgar names at her.

“It was just, like, the little bit back to the right side of my head, and was just like ‘pow!’” she said.

Racois said she didn’t expect the assault, but she wasn’t surprised because it wasn’t the first time.

“It frustrates me,” she said. “It angers me because it isn’t the first time I’ve had a conflict with people.”

Racois believes she keeps being assaulted because she’s transgender. She’s known since she was a teenager, and coming out to her friends and family was one of the most difficult moments of her life.

“I was a bit scared and anxious,” she said. “It’s mostly because of incidents I’ve heard of violence towards trans people.”

In January, Racois said someone spit chewing tobacco at her. In November, she was threatened by a man on Quail Street while she was walking back home.

Albany police said they are still investigating Monday’s incident and are on the lookout for the two men.

“Right now, the incident is being documented as a harassment,” Officer Steve Smith said. “There was no physical injury to the victim.”

While Racois said the attention on the incident has been unexpected, she has a message for the LGBT population, who may also be at risk.

“Learn self-defense, be vigilant,” Rocais said. “Self-preservation is the most important thing right now in this day and age, especially with the new administration. I think there has been a heightened vocal intolerance for LGBT people.”

Police said they’re currently reviewing surveillance footage. Rocais said she’s chosen a different bus stop given how traumatized she still is.

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