Fearful of being the target of bias attacks, transgender women in Jackson Heights, Queens, are taking self-defense classes, El Diario La Prensa reported. The article was translated from Spanish.
Transgender women in Jackson Heights are taking free self-defense classes at a local martial arts academy as part of an initiative aimed at helping them protect themselves from potential attacks.
Lorena Borjas, a prominent advocate for the rights of transsexuals, along with community organizations like Make the Road New York, denounced the increasing police brutality in the neighborhood over the past few months.
Borjas emphasized that transsexuals could be vulnerable to violent attacks given the widespread animosity towards them and misinformation in the area.
In response, the organization Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center and the karate academy M’keka Do, located in Jackson Heights, began to offer free self-defense classes specifically for transgender women.
Every Sunday during the month of October, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., participants will learn from martial art expert Elena Waldman.
Waldman, who has more than two decades of experience teaching self-defense, pointed out that the class was created for people without prior experience.
“During each session, students will learn easy techniques that they can use in daily life; not just physical, but psychological and verbal as well,” she said.
Waldman explained that the program gives participants better chances of keeping themselves out of danger in the case that they are attacked.
“Transgender women are especially vulnerable to violent situations and it’s best if they can prepare themselves to face a possible attack,” said Waldman, who is volunteering her time in the program.
The Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center and the karate academy M’keka Do have offered similar classes in Jackson Heights in the past, most recently in June and July.
Lorena Borjas, who has been striving to support the transsexual community in Queens for over three decades, stressed the importance of the initiative.
“The knowledge is essential, especially since our community runs a greater risk in an unsafe neighborhood,” she said. “We need to know how and when to defend ourselves.”
One participant who wished to remain anonymous said the self-defense classes make her feel safer when walking through the streets of Queens.
“Nobody is expecting to get attacked, but just in case, it’s better to know how to keep calm and not make fatal errors when trying to defend yourself,” she added.
For more information on the workshops, contact Waldman at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit M’keka Do at 72-26 Roosevelt Ave., Jackson Heights.