April 25, 2011 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Baltimore rally to protest trans beating

Transgender activists have scheduled a rally in a Baltimore suburb tonight (Monday) to protest the April 18 beating of a transgender woman by two female attackers inside a McDonald’s restaurant.

A video of the beating of Chrissy Lee Polis, 22, has been seen by hundreds of thousands of people online after a McDonald’s employee shot the video with his cell phone and posted it to YouTube. It’s been removed by YouTube but can be viewed here.

The video shows two teenage women repeatedly punching and kicking Polis in the head and body as she curled up on the restaurant floor. It was posted on other sites before going viral and creating an uproar within the LGBT community across the country.

Hundreds of thousands of individual views of the video have been recorded by various websites, according to the Baltimore Sun, which has given extensive coverage of the incident.

Polis was treated and released from a hospital near the suburban Baltimore town of Rosedale, where the McDonald’s restaurant is located. Baltimore County police have charged a 14-year-old woman as a juvenile in the incident and said they expected to charge the other teen implicated in the attack, who is said to be 18.

The franchise owner of the McDonald’s where the incident occurred announced on Saturday that he has fired the employee who made the video.

The three-minute video shows another McDonald’s employee and an elderly female customer attempting to separate the attackers from Polis. It also shows other employees and customers standing by, with some laughing.

A police report says the incident began when the two female attackers became upset after seeing Polis enter the women’s bathroom at the McDonald’s. The employee who recorded the incident posted a message on his YouTube site saying Polis was a man dressed like a woman who entered the women’s bathroom.

“And When Told To Get Out Tha ladies Bathroom He Got Smart With Everybody So Tha Two Girls Beat Him Up [sic],” said the employee, according to the website The Smoking Gun, which made a copy of the message before the employee deleted it.

“This is precisely the kind of hatred and bigotry that transgender women and men deal with on a daily basis,” said Caroline Temmerand of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland in a statement announcing the rally.

“We as a society have failed if we cannot do more to protect all Marylanders from this kind of brutality,” she said.

The statement says the rally was scheduled to take place outside the McDonald’s at 6315 Kenwood Ave., Rosedale, Md., at 7 p.m. tonight.

The groups Trans-United and TransMaryland also were involved in organizing the rally.

“Our primary concern is for Ms. Polis’ well being,” said Jenna Fischetti of TransMaryland. “We will support her through this difficult time and we ask that the legal process be unhampered and thorough.”

The statewide LGBT group Equality Maryland issued a statement Friday condemning the incident.

“No person ever deserves to be a victim of violence regardless of their gender identity or presentation,” the statement says. “We encourage the state’s Attorney General to investigate this as a hate crime based on gender identity.”

The statement, released by the group’s board chair Charles Butler, says the group was encouraged that McDonald’s was working with local police to investigate the incident and called on McDonald’s to take appropriate disciplinary action against any other employee that acted inappropriately.

A police report says officers investigating the incident initially classified it as a second-degree assault.

A spokesperson for the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s office said the office was investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

The franchise owner of the McDonald’s restaurant in the Baltimore suburb who fired the employee who made the video told the Sun he was considering disciplinary action, including possibly firing, of other employees who may have acted inappropriately in connection with the incident.

McDonald’s corporate headquarters posted a statement on its website condemning the attack against Polis, saying the company was “shocked” by the video. It called the incident “unacceptable, disturbing and troubling” and said the company was working with its franchise owner and Baltimore-area authorities to investigate the matter.

The attack against Polis took place one week after the Maryland Senate voted to recommit a transgender non-discrimination bill to committee, killing it for the year.

State Sen. Katherine Klausmeier, a Democrat who voted to send the transgender bill back to committee, represents the district in which the attack took place.

Montgomery County transgender activist Dana Beyer, who is also among the organizers of Monday’s rally, said organizers have invited Klausmeier to attend the rally.

“We haven’t heard back from her,” Beyer said on Sunday.

Beyer said she and other transgender activists are relieved that Polis, while roughed up badly, does not appear to have sustained serious physical injuries. Toward the end of the clip, she appears to be having a seizure. Beyer said she was hopeful that something positive would come from the incident in the wake of the extraordinary following it has generated online and in the media.

“Things like this always have the potential for being a real spur to action,” she said. “It often takes a tragedy to get people to recognize what’s at stake. Fortunately, she’s fine. If it turns out this galvanizes the community and gets some elected officials to actually listen to us seriously who weren’t willing to do so as recently as two weeks ago, then that’s a good thing.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

13 Comments
  • Hey folks,
    I was visiting in Baltimore this weekend from Boston. It was SO awful to read and watch what happened to Chrissy. Is there a donation fund for her? I’m sure she could benefit from PTSD therapy and a relaxing trip or two to a spa, or Disneyworld or something fun!
    Also, I understand folks’ interest in getting the police to investigate etc. We need to remember, however, that the police are part of the Prison-Industrial Complex, which has been LGBTQ folks’ ENEMY for a long, long time. Instead of relying on this system built on the institutions of White Supremacy and Hetero-Patriarchy, now would be a GREAT time to have community discussions about alternative responses to these tragic situations than the traditional police-punish/torture model. What will the attackers learn locked up in a cage for years and years? Get a dose of their own medicine through the abuse they’ll surely suffer? Likely. Will they learn to treat trans people they meet in prison and upon release with respect? No. Because the same prisons routinely lock up our trans family and treat them worse than s–t.
    Please spend some time looking into RESTORATIVE JUSTICE and TRANSFORMATIVE JUSTICE. Friends and I up in Buffalo, NY made a low-budget movie called Night Out two years ago to address what we might do if one of our trans friends was beat up. Some of the things we came up with were community shaming or the attacker(s), healing/reconcialition circles, starting a LGBTQ responder line and safety walk, etc.

    CHECK OUT BLACKANDPINK.ORG for resources

    Clearly, this is also a very important moment for teaching Baltimore folks about trans people, how amazing we are, and why we deserve respect throughout our entire day and night.
    GOOD LUCK Baltimore! You’ve got a lot of important work ahead of you:)
    ~Reed

  • This brutal attack was more than assault – it was a vicious racial and transgender hate crime, and these two thugs need to be prosecuted as adults and sent to prison.

  • Its not enough of a punishment for the idiot witnesses to get fired from a shitty job! Something more should happen to them!

  • the poor girl wasn’t even fighting back, they kept on going, if someone had not finally have called the police it makes you wonder when they would have stopped beating her? It’s very sad, and I agree people need to realize that this is not how you act and they should be charged as an adult. They both walk away yet continue to go back for one more hit. No McDonald’s employee did anything. The manager/other employees should have thrown them out and locked the door you do not continue to let them keep coming back. If they had been able to drag her outside who knows what the outcomes would have been. It is sad that if the race of both parties were reversed that there would be an even bigger uproar.

  • Its sad that the transgender individual experienced these unusual circumstances. I think to avoid this problem from recurring in the near future businesses should begin investing in a third bathroom that can be accessed by “other” for transgenders.

    • Are you freaking kidding? Do you think black people need their own bathroom too? Hey, while we’re at it, let’s re-segregate our schools! Idiot.

  • This is what i read form straight media, not from the Blade: the 2 attackers are black, the attackee is white. The Blade reporter seemed to try to be political correctness.

  • typical negro behavior. they are raised to be ignorant,violent & uneducated. they call it “keepin it real”

  • Those two young ladies are damn lucky I wasn’t there when they pulled this shit. I’d have picked up one of the metal chairs you see and beaten the two of them to death to save that poor girl. We ARE allowed to act in defense of others! In the meantime, there has GOT to be a way we can send messages and support, even if it’s through the Blade, to this poor young girl to let her know that not everybody in the world is like those savages on the tape…. Blade? Response?

  • Reading that she is “fine” makes me uncomfortable. Maybe physically, but emotionally? This poor person! Life must be hard enough for a transgendered person without getting attacked like this.

    Every single person in that restaraunt that saw this is culpable if they did not try to stop it or call for help.

  • Time For Revenge

    It’s a crime to say the least that the McDonald’s employee’s just watched as a young girl was beaten so savagely. Typical black behavior. I will carry a gun if I go somewhere similar.

  • Paybacks are hell

    It’s just more of the same from the black community. They/re nothing but dead weight on society and it’s time this kind of behavior be seriously punished. Assault charges against his 14 yr. old won’t get her much time. The 18 yr old might get a couple of years. So it’s time that all non-blacks start to stand up and make their voices heard. Don’t just stand by and watch a white person get the crap beat out of them by a group of young black thugs. Be sure to protect someone you see being gang assaulted. Do so with extreme malice and intent to harm.

  • jacquelyn richter

    Wow so some chose to follow trans hate with black hate. This assualt is not about race. Leave your race hatred behind it is as ugly as trans hate

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