On Saturday 3rd October 27 year old transgender woman Rachel Keys was sitting at home alone watching television when an explosion rocked her home and left her covered in shattered glass. It transpired that her Belfast home was the target of a pipe bomb attack in what police are calling a ‘sectarian hate crime’.
‘I was just watching TV in my living room,’ Rachel described, ‘suddenly the window came through, there was glass everywhere and there was a big bang and a flash. I was covered in glass.
‘To be honest I was completely dazed, I didn’t know what was happening. It scared the life out of me. I just ran out of the house screaming to my neighbours. I didn’t even have time to get my poor cat, Jessie, who was sleeping in the bedroom. I was terrified, shaking and upset.
‘The police came and cordoned the place off and evacuated us all to the local community centre. I was totally dazed. One of my neighbours is epileptic and I was worried about her not being able to get her medication. Another neighbour has a child who is autistic, another is a pensioner. It was awful for them, just awful.
‘I just moved to my home in December, it’s a quiet area. I liked living here. I was getting my place done up bit by bit. It was my home. You think you’ll be safe in your home. You think you’ll be safe in your home, that it is a sanctuary, but this has just shown me that it isn’t.
‘The police have told me that I can’t go back home. They said I have to be moved to emergency housing. It makes me really sad that people won’t allow others to get on with their lives, to live in peace. It makes me sad and angry. It’s not fair, it’s not right. I don’t deserve to live like this, I’ve done nothing wrong.’
Police are investigating possible motives, but Rachel feels that she was targeted for the attack due to her being transgender.