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October 7, 2011

TG women attacked near Clifton and West Blvd.

Cleveland--Two transgender women were attacked on September 22 while returning to their house after a jog.

Zoe Page and Jeolene Strietward stopped at a pet store’s grand opening and were walking back to their house on West Boulevard at about 9 pm when five men walked by. One dropped his bike, and Page recounts that he said, “Hell no, what are you faggots doing here?”

Page, a combat veteran of the armed services, told Strietward to run away and get help, and attempted to hold off the attackers before being hit in the back of the head with what she describes as a brick. Once she went down, the assailants kicked and beat her.

She tried to get back up repeatedly, only to be knocked down again, before managing to get into the middle of the street. Once there, an off-duty Lakewood firefighter chased off the attackers and called emergency medical services.

Strietward, meanwhile, had been knocking on the doors of nearby houses, trying to get someone to call the police, but nobody answered. She was knocking so hard she broke a pane of glass in a door, requiring stitches in her hand.

The assailants made off with Page’s backpack, along with much of the contents of her pockets, including her keys.

The following day, Page went to the VA hospital, where she was treated for a broken nose, abrasions and bruised ribs.

Despite an end to the assault, which occurred near Clifton Boulevard, Page still faces reminders of the attack. On October 3, she spotted two of the assailants at the Shell gas station on Clifton. She called police from the cell phone of a person at the station, and got disconnected repeatedly, finally waiting three hours for police officers to come and take her statement.

According to Page, the two she spotted on October 3 were the only two still at large. Police caught the first two shortly after the attack, and they had her belongings with them. A few days ago, a detective came by with a photo line-up and she identified the third assailant.

A detective was slated to come out to talk to Page about spotting the remaining two attackers on October 4, as this issue is going to press. Page said the detective was going to turn the information over to the local office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the hate crime element of the attack.

Police officials had not returned calls for comment at press time.

Strietward has been involved with the Cleveland LGBT Center, and Page was looking into volunteering herself. The attack has not changed that, although now their focus may be larger.

Ohio’s hate crime laws do not protect on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity; nor do its antidiscrimination laws. A bill is currently in the legislature to expand non-discrimination provisions.

“These are things that need to change now,” Page said, indicating that she and Strietward will be actively lobbying legislators and hoping that telling their story will help show them what members of the LGBT community face on a daily basis, even in progressive cities in Ohio.

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