Paris transgender woman ‘humiliated’ at protest

Images of the attack went viral when the video was put out by a Stop Homophobie leader, Lyes AlouaneImage copyright Stop Homophobie
Image caption Images of the attack went viral when the video was put out by a Stop Homophobie leader, Lyes Alouane

A transgender woman has spoken out after a video went viral of her being attacked near a rally in central Paris against Algeria’s ailing president.

Julia has described being targeted by three men in the Place de la République.

“You’re a man, you’re not going anywhere, you’re not coming past,” she was told, as she was pushed and punched while trying get through the crowd.

Prosecutors have opened an inquiry into the attack.

Appearing on French TV and radio, Julia said she had never experienced anything quite like it.

“The violence against this [transgender] community takes place every day. But some people won’t have the strength that I have and they’ll be destroyed by these attacks,” she said.

What happened in central Paris?

Julia, 31, was set upon on Sunday as she walked up steps at the metro station in the Place de la République. A big rally was taking place in the square against Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria’s long-ruling 82-year-old president, who has since announced his resignation.

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Wearing a black-and-white striped blouse, Julia was blocked by protesters who taunted her in Arabic.

One man ruffled her hair, while a girl draped in an Algerian flag came to try to help Julia. After the girl moved on, a man repeatedly punched Julia while another could be seen kicking at her.

Transport police then intervened and led the victim to safety. However, French group Stop Homophobie said the transport officers had called her “Monsieur” and told her “not to dress like that”.

Video of the attack has gone viral in France, and Julia then decided to give her account of what had happened.

“I wanted to go down and take the metro. Three people were blocking my way, and one said: ‘Oh but actually you’re a man – we won’t let you through,'” she told France Inter radio.

Julia said one of the men had even exposed himself in front of her while the others then started throwing beer over her.

“I’m not necessarily expecting these people to be punished but I want things to move forward and for the way people think to evolve,” she told BFMTV.

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Julia later made clear that the attack had nothing to do with the Algerian community but was carried out by ignorant people, regardless of their origin or religion.

The Paris prosecutor has opened a case for violence due to sexual orientation and gender identity. Political leaders, including Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa, have condemned the attack.

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