Uploaded to Twitter by the very teenagers that carried out the attack, a video – filmed on what looks like a cell phone and shared with the caption ‘Calm down as Carlos is okay’ – shows the brutal assault of a trans woman named Cielo, who was subjected to multiple blows from plastic tubing held by one of the young men, while the other filmed; laughing and repeating ‘Not with Carlos’. The incident took place in the Buenos Aires neighbourhood of San Telmo and the video has since gone viral; leading both parties to respond to media attention.
According to one of the teenagers, the situation was instigated by Cielo who they claim offered them sexual services, which they declined, at which point they claim she allegedly attacked them for refusing. However, none of this can be confirmed. Based on the available evidence it would appear that the only identifiable victim is very clearly Cielo.
The young trans woman who works at a kiosk in Buenos aires has a very different account of the incident. Cielo stated that the video is only a part of the assault that she suffered, and the teenagers in fact continued to beat her even after they had stopped filming – leaving her with ‘bruises on my back, on my shoulders – I couldn’t walk for two days.’
She explained to the media that she had been out dancing with friends the night before at Rey Castro, a club in San Telmo and the next morning was looking for a cab when she was approached by the two teenagers.
“They came shouting, ‘puto, puto‘ […] they kept screaming at me but I didn’t say anything in return.” she stated. Referring to the viral video she said: “It’s clear that I’m coming down the sidewalk when they insult me, and out of fear I cross to the other side of the street.”
“Luckily they found a plastic pipe and not an iron one, because otherwise they could have killed me,” Cielo said.
Although pleasantly surprised by the positive responses and affirmations of support she has received on social media platforms as a result of the video, Cielo also states that this is not the first time something like this has happened and that a lot more needs to improve in terms of public attitude as well as official responses to such reported cases.
She recalls one incident in which ‘three people got out of a car and started beating my friend, they kicked her while she was on the ground, on the street. I had to step in and they hit me too.” Then they got in the car and left.
“I didn’t go to the police station, you get the feeling that they don’t pay any attention to you when you do go. I went home and tended to my injuries myself.” she said.
Supporting Cielo’s account, the National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism (INADI) issued a statement on Wednesday, warning of ‘the danger of normalizing, once again, violence against members of the trans community.’