Those were the words Michael M. Volz heard before they were assaulted on 11th Avenue and East Pike Street after leaving a Pulse Orlando benefit event at Neumos late Wednesday night. Since then, Seattle Police officers have been investigating the attack, which they have said could be classified as an anti-trans hate crime.
On Friday, Volz, Gender Justice League executive director Danni Askini, and the Seattle Police Department led a press conference at Cal Anderson Park to discuss the incident. Behind Volz stood a crowd of supporters, some of who held "No On I-1515" signs to stand against the anti-trans bathroom initiative.
It was the first time Volz spoke since they were attacked.
"I want you to know this is not an isolated incident," they said. "The importance of this [attack] is to bring visibility to something largely treated as invisible. I refuse to not talk about it."
Volz and Askini both described the assault as a symptom of growing anti-trans sentiment in Washington state and throughout the country.
"This sends a message that targeting the trans community is okay, but it is absolutely not," said Connie Burk with the NW Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian and Gay Survivors of Abuse, who also spoke at the meeting.
In 2016, there have been six anti-trans initiatives proposed in the state in addition to the anti-trans bathroom bill, I-1515. Signature-gatherers for Just Want Privacy, the group behind the initiative, have allegedly been misleading passersby to get them to sign the petition to get it on the ballot.
"Standing against I-1515 is the clearest call to action," said Askini during a round of questions from the press. The Gender Justice League exec also added that SPD had been helpful and that her group had worked with officers to train them on responding to crimes against LGBTQ+ people.
But Askini said she would like to see the city do more, including offering self-defense classes to the LGBTQ+ community and offering shuttle rides to community members who may feel unsafe. "We muse created a community of solidarity to support each other," she said.
According to Carmen Best, Seattle Police deputy chief expressed "great sadness and anger" about Volz's assault and said that officers are "aggressively pursuing" the crime.
"The police stand in solidarity [with Volz]," said Best.
Best said the attacker has still not been found. The assailant is described as a white male in his 20s with shaggy brown hair. He was wearing an orange sweatshirt and sandals. SPD do not currently have any photos or videos of the incident. If anyone has information about the attack, please call 206-233-5000.