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Baltimore rally to protest trans beating

Employee fired for recording attack inside McDonald’s



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.”


District of Columbia

Inaugural Uptown Pride to take place June 10

Festival to feature drag storytime, makers’ market, DJs



Logo created by Anthony Dihle (Courtesy of Justin Noble)

A new Pride festival is coming to D.C. 

The inaugural Uptown Pride will be hosted in Sixteenth Street Heights on June 10 with Pride celebrations for Washingtonians of all ages.

The festival, hosted at the intersection of 14th Street, Colorado Avenue and Kennedy Street, NW, will feature a drag storytime, a makers’ market, DJs and more. There will also be a raffle for various prizes, with all proceeds going to the Trevor Project, which provides suicide prevention services for LGBTQ teens.

The festival will be from 2-7 p.m. and is partnering with local businesses like Moreland’s Tavern, Captain Cookie and Lighthouse Yoga Center for activities and refreshments.

Justin Noble, one of the organizers of the festival, said that the inspiration for the event came out of wanting a Pride experience tailored to the residents of the Sixteenth Street Heights, Petworth and Brightwood neighborhoods.

“It can be a hassle to get to downtown,” Noble said. “There needs to be something in our community that supports LGBTQ+ people and the culture and all of that because we’re everywhere, right? We are everywhere.”

Organizer Max Davis said that the inclusion of children’s events like a drag storytime was purposeful, and helps make the event more accessible to LGBTQ families and youth. 

“Kids I feel are the most important in as far as just showing them, just visibly showing them that you can live out and you can be queer,” Davis said. “There is no more dangerous time than now to be queer, questioning youth … So who better to welcome into the fold than kids who might be questioning their sexuality.”

Davis said that a big part of wanting to bring Pride celebrations uptown was to have a physical representation of support for the LGBTQ community.

“I felt like because there wasn’t anything going on in Sixteenth Street Heights — the clientele that we were serving up at Moreland’s absolutely is supportive, and I never felt that it wasn’t a supportive environment — but if you don’t have something to actively support that I feel that your support is just words,” Davis said. “If our community had someplace to attend even for one day to just be like, ‘Hey, I stand with you,’ … that is something that every community should have available to them to actively support the LGBTQ community.”

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District of Columbia

Capital Pride announces 2023 honorees, grand marshals

Assistant Secretary of Health Levine among picks



Assistant U.S. Secretary of Health Admiral Dr. Rachel Levine. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Assistant U.S. Secretary of Health Admiral Dr. Rachel Levine and acclaimed longtime D.C. LGBTQ and transgender rights advocate Earline Budd are among nine prominent LGBTQ community leaders named on Wednesday by the Capital Pride Alliance as its 2023 Capital Pride honorees.

Capital Pride Alliance, which organizes D.C.’s annual Capital Pride parade, festival, and related events, announced in a May 24 statement that it will present the honoree awards to each of the recipients at a ceremony scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, June 2, at the Penn Social event and catering hall at 801 E St., N.W.

“The recipients are nominated each year by members of the community,” the Capital Pride statement says. “They represent individuals who and organizations that have advanced the causes of LGBTQ+ rights,” it says.

The statement says Levine was selected for the Capital Pride Paving the Way Award, which “acknowledges an individual or organization that has provided exemplary contributions, support, and/or advocacy that has positively impacted the LGBTQ+ community, and whose leadership has inspired continued progress.”

Levine, who was appointed by President Biden in 2021 as Assistant Secretary of Health, is a longtime pediatrician who also serves as an admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. She became the first openly transgender person to hold the admiralty position.

Capital Pride named Earline Budd as recipient of the Capital Pride Super Hero Award, which “recognizes additional significant and important contributions to the LGBTQ+ community in the national capital region.”

The statement announcing the honorees says Levine and Budd will also serve as grand marshals for the June 10 Capital Pride Parade. It says each of the other honorees will serve as parade marshals.

The announcement says the following four people have been named as recipients of the Capital Pride Hero Award:

• Shi-Queeta Lee, the D.C.-based nationally acclaimed drag performer
• Benjamin Rosenbaum, longtime congressional staffer, LGBTQ rights advocate, and LGBTQ Jewish community advocate
• Nancy Canas, president of D.C. Latinx History Project and advocate for the LGBTQ Latinx community
• Abdur-Rahim Briggs, longtime leader of the D.C.-based Project Briggs, which provides philanthropic support for LGBTQ causes.

The following two organizations were named as recipients of the Capital Pride Breaking Barriers Community Impact Award, which recognizes individuals or organizations that have “demonstrated a significant impact to the LGBTQ+ community at either the local or national level and who helped eliminate barriers for social, personal, or professional growth of the LGBTQ+ community:

• Drag Story Hour DMV
• National LGBTQ Task Force

The Bill Miles Award for Outstanding Volunteer Services, which acknowledges “exemplary contributions to the Capital Pride Alliance, its programs, initiatives, or other Pride sponsored activities,” is being given to Brandon Bayton, Jr., a longtime Capital Pride volunteer, consultant, and organ transplant advocate, and LGBTQ rights advocate.

“We are fortunate to have such a vibrant honoree selection process, with so many outstanding individuals who were nominated,” said Ashley Smith, president of the Capital Pride Alliance Board of Directors. “We are very pleased to celebrate these individuals at the 2023 Capital Pride Honors,” Smith said in the CPA statement.

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District of Columbia

Blade names recipients of two summer fellowships

Kravis, Lev-Tov join LGBTQ news team



Isabelle Kravis and Joel Lev-Tov are the Blade Foundation’s 2023 summer fellows.

The Blade Foundation this week announced the recipients of its 2023 summer fellowship program. 

Isabelle Kravis (she/they) is a senior at American University studying journalism and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. She will focus on covering LGBTQ issues in the local D.C. area for 12 weeks starting this week. The fellowship is made possible by a generous donation from the DC Front Runners Pride Run 5K event.

“I’ve been reading the Blade since I first moved to D.C. for my freshman year and I’m so excited to be able to contribute to such a historic paper,” Kravis said. “I love covering the LGBTQ community because of the diversity of experiences that each queer person has and the joy that queer people bring to everything they do. I’m incredibly lucky to have this opportunity to be able to cover both the city and community that I love.”

Joel Lev-Tov (they/them) is a senior at the University of Maryland College Park studying journalism. Lev-Tov also serves as president of the Association of LGBTQ Journalists at College Park. Lev-Tov is the sixth recipient of the Steve Elkins Memorial Journalism Fellowship, which honors the co-founder of CAMP Rehoboth. The fellow covers issues of interest to the LGBTQ community in Delaware, also for 12 weeks. The fellowship is funded by donations from the Rehoboth Beach community.

“I’m extremely excited to start reporting about my community for my community,” Lev-Tov said. “The Blade is offering me a special opportunity that I’m very grateful for. I can’t wait to start reporting!”

Kevin Naff, editor of the Blade, welcomed Kravis and Lev-Tov to work this week.

“We’re all excited to work with Isabelle and Joel this summer,” Naff said. “There’s never been more news to cover and they will add an important, fresh perspective to our work. Thank you to our donors and to the Front Runners for making this program possible.”

For more information on the fellowship program or to donate, visit

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