Police suspect a 25-year-old man brutally bashed in Newtown was targeted because he was wearing a dress. Donning a party frock and make-up, Isaac Keatinge left a house party on Forbes Street at roughly midnight on Sunday.
Mx Keatinge, who identifies as queer and prefers the gender-neutral title Mx, was walking towards King Street when he was set upon by three men, police said.
“I was confronted by some straight men who didn’t appreciate the gorgeous gown or make up I was wearing,” Mx Keatinge wrote in a Facebook post accompanied by a photo of his bruised and bloodied face.
“They started insulting the way I was dressed. They asked me why I was dressed like a woman, that I must be a faggot … Insults were exchanged on both sides,” Mx Keatinge told Fairfax Media.
“I kind of came to on the bonnet of one of the cars. I was so disoriented,” Mx Keatinge said.
He stumbled back to the house party where guests reacted with horror when they saw his bloodied face. They took him inside and called the police.
Officers from Newtown Local Area Command arrived at 12.15pm to find Mx Keatinge with severe facial injuries.
He was taken to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital where he received treatment including 15 stitches for a cut to the head.
The laceration to his forehead was so deep it exposed his skull.
Police officers are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident, including “bias based on his appearance at the time”,
“My Dad and my brother often told me that wearing a dress and make-up would get me bashed, but I never thought it would happen,” he said.
The violent altercation was all the more shocking for the Newtown local having just left a queer party that had been so welcoming.
“Being queer is really something that has sustained me in times of hardship and I do feel a sense of global solidarity. It’s really important to me,” he said.
Asked what he felt could be done to avoid a repeat of the incident, Mx Keatinge said better lighting and community education through programs like Safe Schools would be more effective than any individual precautions.
The 25-year-old said the reaction to the incident from the wider community had been “astounding”.
“People have been reaching out to me on social media, on the street and in my workplace This kind of violence is something that has touched a lot of people.
Newtown Local Area Commander, Superintendent Simon Hardman said targeting people based on bias related perceptions is unacceptable in today’s society.
“This report is extremely concerning and absolutely unacceptable. NSW Police will follow every avenue of investigation possible.
“I appeal for anyone who has information about those involved to come forward, and remind people that information can be provided anonymously via Crime Stoppers.
“Police will investigate all motivations for alleged crime, including motivations of bias,” Supt Hardman said.