Shocked family members of a transgender teenager who was slashed in the face by a gang of youths have spoken out after the horrific assault.

The victim was approached by a group of teenagers on a footpath near to Ness Walk, Witham, at about 3.50pm on Saturday.

He was verbally assaulted by the gang and then one of the suspects used an unknown weapon to cut the victim’s face.

The victim managed to escape and the police carried out a thorough search of the area for the suspects, however they could not be located.

Although the victim’s injuries were not serious, he has been left mentally scarred by what happened.

In a statement, his family said: “This incident has been devastating for our child and us as a family.

“In today’s society you should be able to walk the street without fear - but we now cannot do this.

“We have released photos of the injury in the hope it will encourage people who may have seen this group in the area come forward so they can be brought to justice.

Braintree and Witham Times:

“Our child is transgender, our child is autistic, our child is a human being, our child is not a freak.

“Just because they feel differently they should not be victimised and made to feel scared as they do now.

“We would like to thank our close friends, family and the police who have supported us through this horrific incident.

“We don’t judge others, we don’t want to be judged we just want to be left to live our lives in peace.”

Braintree and Witham Times:

Essex Police confirmed on Sunday they were investigating the incident as a hate crime.

Supt Tom Simons said: “We will not tolerate hateful incidents like this in Essex and I would like to commend the victim for reporting this traumatic incident.

“My officers are working diligently to try and identify those responsible for this attack.

“We are looking to speak to three teenage boys, aged between 14 and 15, who were in Spa Road Recreation Ground with a push bike from around 3.50pm to 4.15pm.

“One was white and had black hair. He was around 5ft 6ins tall and had a significant amount of acne on his face.

“He wore a black hooded top with a white or yellow top underneath it.

“We believe they left the Recreation Ground and walked up Spa Road, in the direction of the Co-op shortly after 4.15pm.”

Witnesses to the incident are urged to call Braintree police station on 101 quoting crime reference 42/50122/19 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.