The incident occurred when 22-year-old Chrissy Lee Polis, who is transgender, tried to use the women’s restroom.
“They said, ‘That’s a dude, that’s a dude and she’s in the female bathroom,’ ” Polis told the Baltimore Sun in an interview yesterday. “They spit in my face.”
What happened next is detailed in a three minute clip, taped by a McDonald’s employee, that spread virally. The video garnered more than 500,000 views on one site alone.
According to the Baltimore Sun:
The video shows two females—one of them a 14-year-old girl—repeatedly kicking and punching Polis in the head as an employee and a patron try to intervene. Others can be heard laughing, and men are seen standing idly by.
Toward the end of the video, one of the suspects lands a punishing blow to the victim’s head, and a Polis appears to have a seizure. A man’s voice tells the woman to run because police are coming.
Stepping back from the employee’s actions, McDonald’s acknowledged the attack and issued a statement saying , “We are shocked by the video from a Baltimore franchised restaurant showing an assault. This incident is unacceptable, disturbing and troubling.
“McDonald's strives to be a safe, welcoming environment for everyone who visits. Nothing is more important to us than the safety of customers and employees in our restaurants. We are working with the franchisee and the local authorities to investigate this matter.”
On Saturday, franchise owner Mitchell McPherson echoed the national office’s sentiments stating, “The crew member who made the video is no longer employed with my organization.”
Equality Maryland has called on Douglas F. Gansler, the state Attorney General, to step in and investigate the attack as a hate crime.
“As a community we remain horrified that transgender citizens are so vulnerable that they can be brutalized for simply walking down the street,” Lisa Polyak, vice president of the board of directors for Equality Maryland, told reporters. “She was simply trying to use a public accommodation. People should not feel threatened when they exist in public spaces.
The incident occurred little more than a month after the Maryland Gender Identity Act failed to garner the necessary legislative support to enact protections for transgender residents in public accommodations. A point, Polyak also raised in her talk with reporters.
“This is why we need a statewide law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression."
A vigil is being organized to address Polis’ attack as well as to call attention to the larger issue of violence against transgender individuals.
“Our primary concern is for Ms. Polis’ wellbeing. We support her through this difficult time and we ask that the legal process be unhampered and thorough,” TransMaryland spokeswoman Jenna Fischetti said.
“This is precisely the kind of hatred and bigotry that transgender women and men deal with on a daily basis,” Caroline Temmerand of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (GLCCB) said.
The vigil is being planned by Trans-United, TransMaryland, the Baltimore County for Equality and GLCCB. Members of the organizations and community supporters will gather at 7 pm in front of the McDonalds where Polis was attacked, which is at 6315 Kenwood Ave, in Rosedale.
GLAAD will continue to monitor this situation and provide media support for the LGBT community in Maryland.