Minnesota trans woman said she thought she was going to die in beating

Tim Fitzsimons

Iyanna Dior, a transgender woman, said she felt “disgusted” and “attacked” and became visibly emotional in response to a viral video showing a group of people beating her inside and outside a convenience store last week in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Iyanna Dior (Iyanna Dior / via Facebook)

In a Facebook live video posted Thursday, she said that while moving a friend’s car late one night, she hit several other cars on the East Side in St. Paul. Dior, 20, said she could not pay cash demanded by one car’s owner and left the scene because she feared being attacked or shot.

When Dior sought safety in a nearby convenience store, she said, owners declined to call police or help.

NBC News did not receive a response to a Thursday request for comment from the Minneapolis Police Department.

“I really feel bad that I just did this,” she recounted telling the friend who owned the car after she crashed into others. But Dior also said in the Facebook live video that she felt afraid, describing the neighborhood as a “gang area” where people could come out of buildings and threaten her.

The friend and former roommate whose car she moved wouldn’t let her come back to her house, Dior said, so she attempted to flee the scene.

A man allegedly followed Dior down an alley and said, “I don’t know what your little gay ass is doing” and demanded money for the car accident, she said. Dior, who had no money to pay, said she tried to get away.

Dior said she told him, “I’m gonna give you 500, please, please can you just get me to the store.”

“I wanted to get to the store because the only thing that's really running through my mind is: ‘If I’m going to die, I'm going to die on camera,’” she said. “I want people to know actually what happened.”

Dior said she asked for the store owner to call the police and he told her to get out of his store. “You’re causing too much drama,” Dior recalled him saying.

Soon after, she said she was “sucker punched” in the face, she spit back at the woman who punched her, the onslaught of beating began, and then she blacked out.

“I was sitting there really thinking I was going to die,” Dior said.

“To have that many men and women that are adults, to do something like that is really, really horrible,” said transgender activist Dee Dee Watters, who accompanied Dior in the Facebook live video. “Just because someone is trans identified does not take away our black card. We are as black as you are.”

Tributes poured in from LGBTQ people online.

“Sis. I’m sorry,” writer and director Janet Mock wrote in an Instagram post. “They didn’t have to come after you. But they did. There’s no f------ excuse for their brutality, their dangerous ignorance, their fragile masculinity.”

“Many of the community members have been much more intentional about showing up for her,” said Ashlee Marie Preston, an L.A.-based transgender activist and commentator, describing mutual aid efforts to provide community-based cash support to Dior.

“I think it’s a difficult time to be a trans woman because we are trying to combat anti-blackness within the LGBTQ community and we are also trying to combat transphobia within the black community,” Preston continued.

Activists like her are “trying to get people to understand that black trans women are still black women and that our gender identity doesn’t cancel out the experiences that we have in a racist society,” Preston said, describing the video as “traumatizing because it gave me a flashback to Muhlaysia Booker,” a trans woman whose beating was filmed in Texas.

So far in 2020, according to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 12 transgender or gender-nonconforming people have been killed.

Follow NBC Out on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram