Transgender Awareness Week Spotlights the Struggles and Victories of Latino Trans People
The classic steakhouse scene meets authentic Latin style and design at Eva Longoria's Hollywood Boulevard restaurant, Besos. Equipped with overstuffed chairs, wrap-around booths and a white oak wood-burning oven, the atmosphere complements the servings of sangria, tequila and cocktails derivative of meddled fruits.
Late May of this year, 22-year-old Victor Diego, a gay and transgender man, who goes by the name of Vivian Diego and works as a waitress at the trendy establishment was faced with the unthinkable. He left work at 2:30 a.m. after working a lengthy shift. As he made his way home, he was accosted by four men, and beaten until he lost consciousness.
"Sometimes men try to talk to him and they get humiliated in front of their friends when they realize it's a man," said his sister, Virginia Diego. "Because he looks really good, he looks like a woman, you couldn't tell the difference," she told CBS Los Angeles.
Diego survived, and the incident was caught on security cameras. He was hospitalized for seven days, suffering from a broken jaw, a shattered cheekbone, and two ribs were cracked during the stomping.
Diego told KCAL9 at the time of the attack, "It was awful ... I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy."
Longoria, who opened the upscale Mexican restaurant in 2008, took to Twitter to offer her support for Diego, saying, "My heart and prayers are with Victor Diego and his family."
Diego has suffered, but can take solace in the fact that the men who attacked him will hopefully be brought to justice. Los Angeles city leaders announced a $25,000 reward in June for information regarding the brutal attack.
The first arrest was made in Van Nuys, Calif., later that month. A Los Angeles man Nicol Shakhnazaryan, 21, was arrested and his bail was set at $1.05 million, according to some sources, others say that it was set as low as $50,000. The man now faces felony battery charges, with a possible hate crime enhancer. Shakhnazaryan has pled not guilty to the assault charges, stating that he was acting of self-defense. He claimed that Diego had a box cutter, which apparently gave him and his friends reason to approach him from the rear and attack him. It has been stated that no one was cut with the box cutter, however.
The second arrest was made on Oct. 24; 21-year-old suspect Samuel Garunts was arrested, and expected to be in court on Nov. 18, where he will plead not guilty. The other two men have yet to be found.
The violent beating and murder of transpeople is a constant occurrence on a global level. According to data, one transgender person is murdered every three days. There are international incidents where transwomen and transmen have been savagely strangled, raped, stabbed, shot, tortured, run over and beaten down for simply daring to identify as a gender other than the one they were assigned.
Trangender Day of Remembrance is on Nov. 20, a date to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia. The day was founded in 1998 by Gwedolyn Ann Smith, a transgender graphic designer, columnist and activist, to honor the life of Rita Hester who was murdered in Allston, Massachusetts. The day is observed in over 185 cities and in more than 20 countries, and now is a part of Transgender Awareness Week, held from Nov. 12-19, to illuminate the struggles and successes of transgender individuals everywhere.
A special email account at email@example.com has also been established for anyone who may have information about Diego's assault.