Earlier this week, I attended the rally for Chrissy Lee Polis in a Rosedale, Md., McDonald’s parking lot along with about 300 others and was immediately struck by the upbeat vibe.
Polis, a transgender woman, was beaten inside the restaurant last week after attempting to use the women’s restroom; the incident captured national headlines after an employee recorded the beating rather than coming to Polis’s aid and posted the video to YouTube.
Polis’s mother described the rally as a “wonderful night.” Mary Washington, a lesbian member of the Maryland House of Delegates, said it was an “LGBT moment.” Indeed, something about that night felt transformative; it was as if the fight for transgender visibility and acceptance was coming together in Rosedale, of all places. We weren’t in the Castro or Dupont or Chelsea. We were standing in working class Baltimore County surrounded by locals who wanted to show the world that their neighborhood supports Chrissy and won’t tolerate violence against one of their own. They weren’t going to let that YouTube video forever define their community.
It’s unfortunate that members of the Maryland Senate who killed a transgender rights bill just a week before the attack couldn’t be bothered to show up. If they had, I’m confident they could never cast a vote against trans equality again. Let’s hope this tragedy brings momentum to finally add gender identity to the state’s non-discrimination laws.