DENVER – A trans man is “doing better” after being attacked last Friday night while waiting for a train near 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver.
After grabbing dinner and attending a local gay bar with friends, Syre Klenke, 30, told the Blade he was attempting to catch a train ride home when – at approximately 10:30 p.m. – an unidentified attacker punched him in the side of the head “at least three times.” According to Klenke, the assailant was also using anti-LGBTQ language.
“It all just happened very, very fast,” he said.
Klenke was quickly able to roll onto his back and protect himself with his feet, giving him the ability to push away from his attacker and escape.
He was able to get to a safe location, where he decided to call an Uber to get himself home.
When the Uber arrived, Klenke informed the driver that he was a trans man who had just been attacked. The driver then left his seat, opened Klenke’s door and threatened to pull him out, the 30-year-old said.
Klenke reached out to Uber that night, and he said the company refunded the cancellation fee that night. The ride-sharing app then reached out to him via email to investigate the incident. “I have not been in contact with Uber since then,” he said.
“What Syre reported is heartbreaking and something nobody should ever have to experience. Uber does not tolerate discrimination of any kind and we will take the appropriate action,” a spokesperson for Uber told the Blade in an email. The company also indicated that its investigating the incident and will take appropriate action which, in incidents like this, often means removal from the platform.
After being kicked out of the Uber, Klenke returned to the train station, taking it back to his home.
Denver Police are in contact with Klenke and investigating the incident.
He said he felt concussed the night of the event but did not seek medical attention until the following day.
“I went into survival mode, which was to get home and be safe,” he said.
Klenke was able to catch a glimpse of the perpetrator – who he describes as male-presenting, roughly 5 feet, 8 inches tall, with an “athletic” to “heavy” build. He said he is a “small guy,” who is 5 feet, 2 inches tall and 125 pounds.
“I never would have expected, of all places, for this to happen here,” he said.
Denver is considered to be one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the nation. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) gave the city a perfect Municipal Equality Index score. In addition, according to a Gallup analysis of census data, Denver boasts the ninth highest percentage of LGBTQ adults in the nation.
The Denver Police have a program, Safe Place, that assists victims of crimes, specifically anti-LGBTQ crimes, to reduce anti-LGBTQ bullying and harassment.
“The response from the Denver queer community and Denver PD has made me feel at least somewhat better about the situation,” Klenke said. “But I think it definitely highlights, you know, that this isn’t a problem that’s only happening in the south; this isn’t a problem that’s only happening in a specific area; it’s not even a problem that’s only happening in the United States.”
According to the HRC, 2021 was the deadliest year on record for trans people, with at least 51 deaths. Last year, research from the Williams Institute found that trans people are over four times more likely to be the victim of violent crime than cisgender people.
Klenke explained that anti-LGBTQ violence “isn’t something that happens to trans people,” it happens to the whole community.
“We just really need to be standing up for each other as a community,” he said.
He added: “The fight’s not over.”