Kayla-Ann Emmons considers Eugene to be a mostly tolerant community for transsexuals such as herself. But last month, she says, she was the victim of a hate crime. A man verbally threatened to kill her, because of her gender identity — an experience that has inspired a neighborhood effort to create a hate-free zone. Emmons, 41, said she encountered the man, whom she assumed was a transient, as she walked around a corner at West Fifth Avenue and Madison Street. She noticed his hand in his pocket, she said, as if he might be holding a knife. Having studied jujitsu, Emmons thought she might need to try to fight him off. Instead, the man eventually turned around and left, and she called police. An investigation into Emmons’ case has been suspended pending more suspect information, Eugene Police Department spokeswoman Melinda McLaughlin said. The man accused of threatening Emmons is described as a white male in his late 20s or early 30s, with brown hair and medium build, she said. Emmons said the incident isn’t the first time she has felt threatened because of her gender identity. While a student at the University of Oregon in 2004, she said, she was nearly run over by two male students in a vehicle. She filed a police report and the two students eventually were expelled from campus, she said.
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