New York police are investigating allegations of an assault on a transgender woman on a subway train Friday night as a possible hate crime.
Police are looking for suspects after trans journalist Serena Daniari alleged that a couple on the C train spat on her, hit her and called her transphobic slurs. Daniari said the couple approached her on the subway car and asked her whether she was man, assuming she was trans "upon hearing my voice."
Police said they spoke to Daniari about the incident around 8 p.m. after she exited onto the platform at West 155th Street in Harlem.
"I swear, I just wish people would just leave me alone," Daniari said through tears in a video Friday night. "I don't do anything. I just want to be left alone.”
She wrote in a subsequent tweet that she was "physically fine but mentally shaken" and thanked those who reached out in support.
Her attackers, who were photographed by Daniari, were described as a Hispanic couple who appeared to be in their 20s, police said.
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Mayor Bill de Blasio responded to Daniari's tweet, confirming that police were investigating and urging the public to call in with any information.
"Serena, on behalf of your city I'm so sorry this happened," de Blasio said. "Transgender and non-binary New Yorkers deserve to travel in their city without fear."
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was "sickened" by the alleged attack and instructed the New York State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to assist in the investigation.
"On behalf of the New York family, my message to Serena Daniari is simple: We have zero tolerance for what happened to you," Cuomo said in a statement. "We are sorry for what happened to you. We stand with you in love and respect, and we will catch your attackers and bring them to justice."
About 1 in 5 hate crimes is motivated by anti-LGBTQ bias, according to data the FBI released in November. Violence against the transgender community increased by 34 percent from 2017 to 2018, the data showed.
At least 25 transgender or gender-nonconforming people were killed in violent attacks in the United States last year, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which has been tracking anti-trans violence since at least 2015.