By Julie Bolcer
Originally published on Advocate.com April 25 2011 9:05 AM ET
A coalition of groups in Maryland will rally Monday evening to denounce the violent attack against a transgender woman at a McDonald’s in Baltimore County that was captured on video last week.
According to a news release, Trans-United, TransMaryland, Baltimore County for Equality, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore, and others will gather at 7 p.m. outside the McDonald’s in Rosedale where Chrissy Lee Polis, 22, was attacked last Monday. A video of the violent attack, in which two teenage girls punched and kicked Polis while one restaurant employee and patron tried to intervene and others laughed, has gone viral on the web. Watch the extremely graphic video below, followed by comments from Polis.
The Baltimore Sun reports that the two teens apparently were upset that Polis had tried to use the women’s restroom. Teonna Monae Brown, 18, has been charged with one count of first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault in the attack. A 14-year-old girl also has been charged but her identity was not disclosed because the charges were filed in juvenile court.
The state’s attorney for Baltimore County said his office was in the process of determining whether the attack can be prosecuted as a hate crime. The Sun reports that McDonald’s issued a statement to condemn the beating, and the owner of the Rosedale restaurant fired the employee who taped the beating.
An antidiscrimination bill that would protect transgender Marylanders in housing, employment and credit, but not public accommodations such as the McDonald’s restaurant, passed the house for the first time but died in the senate this year. Many advocates attributed the failure to state senate president Mike Miller, a Prince George's County Democrat who called the transgender rights bill “anti-family” in the days leading up to the final vote.
In an e-mail to colleagues in the state legislature on Monday, delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk, the lead sponsor of the Gender Identity Anti-discrimination Act this year, said the attack and video brought “shame” to Maryland and showed why the bill is needed.
“Incidents such as this illustrate why the transgender community in Maryland and elsewhere needs to be protected through antidiscrimination legislation,” wrote Pena-Melnyk. “Supporters of House Bill 235 in this past legislative session recognized this need and stood up for the rights of this community. While HB235 did not include protection from discrimination in public accommodations due to the intense pressure opponents placed on the bill’s supporters, the bill would have raised public awareness of the issue and paved the way for complete protection for Maryland’s transgender population. Contrary to statements made by those who should be leading the fight for civil rights in Maryland, this was not an anti-family bill, but a basic civil rights bill. The failure of this bill goes against Maryland’s long history of being in the forefront of civil rights movements,” she wrote.
The delegate asked all senators who voted to sideline the measure on the final day of session earlier this month to serve as primary sponsors on a “stronger version” of the bill next year.