WATCH: NYPD Looking for Hate-Crime Attacker of Trans Woman
Police in New York City are looking for a woman in a pink scarf who attacked a transgender woman in a packed subway car.
Jennifer Louise Lopez, 37, tells The Advocate that on January 30, she was punched in the face and required emergency surgery on her eye following the attack. Lopez, who is the executive director of Everything Transgender in NYC, was riding the uptown D train to 125th Street when a woman confronted her.
"I simply sat down on a subway seat, and she obviously didn't like it," Lopez tells The Advocate. "I had my back to her. She was taking up half the seat, sitting by the window. Her first words to me were 'Get the fuck up!' in a very aggressive manner." Lopez responded, and that's when the woman stood up, loudly questioned her gender identity, and punched her in the face, according to New York City TV station WNBC.
In an interview with New York City cable station NY1 News, Lopez described the attack: "She spun around and said 'Oh, you're a man', as soon as she said that she took a swing at me."
"After that she started yelling, 'I hope he gets off at 125th Street, I hope he gets off at 125th Street.'"
Lopez did get off the train at 125th Street but she told NY1 that the woman followed and attacked her again.
"She punched me right in my left eye," Lopez told the station. "Due to the punches there were at least two holes that were placed in my retina."
Fellow subway passengers were able to subdue the attacker and as they did, Lopez shot video and took a photo of the woman who is now wanted in what police are investigating as a hate crime.
Lopez tells The Advocate the attack really hit home. "It repersonalizes it for me. It's not the first time I've been attacked. For me as a leader, it took a lot out of me, it's a lot just to get out of bed. I'm so grateful to my friend, Hannah Simpson," who wrote about the attack on the Everything Transgender in NYC website. "That's why police are taking this seriously, because of what she wrote."
While hate-motivated violence against LGBTQ and the HIV-affected communities dropped 32 percent in 2014 compared with the previous year, hate-motivated violence against transgender people rose 13 percent.
Following the attack, Lopez was taken to St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital for emergency eye surgery.
"Jennifer is probably afraid for her life," her friend Tanya Asapansa-Johnson of Harlem, also a transgender woman, told WNBC. "It's pretty scary when you're attacked for your gender identity," she added.
Lopez told NY1 that she never thought something like this would happen to her. "We are all prone to being attacked unfortunately, of course that's not something that we want and it's something that needs to stop," she said.
While passengers on the train protected her from the attacker, Lopez told NY1 that they too verbally abused her during the incident. One can be seen calling her "ugly" in the video she shot; another shouted at Lopez, "He has balls."
Lopez tells The Advocate that Manuel Rivera, chairperson of the Manhattan Community Board 10 LGBTQ Task Force, is organizing a rally Friday to support her and protest violence against transgender people.
Lopez posted a photo of her alleged attacker on a transgender community website, and police ask anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.
Watch Lopez's video from YouTube below and scroll down for the report from WNBC below.