Three boys have been arrested after stabbing a transgender woman in what is being described by authorities as a hate crime.

On Tuesday (2 July), Cleveland Police said armed response units reacted to “reports of an assault by a group of teenagers with a bladed weapon” in Norton Road, Stockton.

The attack occurred just before 18:00 BST.

The victim, in her 20s, was discovered at the scene with a stab wound to her leg. She was taken to the hospital for surgery, while the three boys – aged 12, 14 and 16 – were taken into custody on suspicion of grievous bodily harm.

“Nobody should ever have to fear being targeted for simply being who they are, ” said Assistant Chief Constable of Cleveland Police, Richard Baker.

“Physical violence against a person, or slurs made regarding a person’s gender identity, race, disability or any other difference, is not acceptable and will not be tolerated in our communities.”

Specialist officers are currently supporting the victim and her family, according to a police spokeswoman, while the force is appealing for witnesses to come forward, as well as potential footage via CCTV and dashcams.

ACC Baker added: “We know the effects of this type of crime can be traumatic and long-lasting.

“If you have been the victim of hate crime, or you are concerned about someone you know, please report it to us. We have officers who can support you through an investigation and work together to bring offenders to justice.”