Two brothers in upstate New York have been charged with third-degree assault as a hate crime after heckling and beating a 19-year-old transgender woman.
Police say Cody Thomas, 18, and Shane Thomas, 27, of Oswego County shouted slurs at the unnamed teen for weeks leading up to the assault.
On Wednesday, the brothers allegedly saw her riding a bike and pulled up alongside her and got out of the car. According to reports, Shane proceeded to assault the teenager. An hour later, after seeing the same woman again, Cody pulled over and assaulted her, as well.
Members of Oswego County’s LGBT community say they’re shocked by the incident.
“It could be somebody that I know;,” Julie Fisher of Oswego Pride told CNYCentral. “I read the stories but [these incidents are] usually in big cities or places that don’t affect me as much… It really hit home today.”
In addition to hate-crime assault, Cody was charged with disseminating inappropriate materials to a minor after police discovered he sent nude photos via Facebook.
Both Thomas brothers have since been released from custody.
Transgender Americans are among the nation’s most vulnerable demographic: In a 2015 survey, nearly half reported being verbally harassed in the past year due to their gender identity. One in ten reported experiencing physical violence in a transphobic attack.