This year, the Maryland state senate killed a bill that would outlaw discrimination against trans people in housing, employment, and public accommodation. Opposition to the bill largely focused on the toilet issue—a hysterical concern over gender non-conforming people sharing public restrooms.
Last weekend, Maryland saw that bathroom hysteria in action when trans woman Chrissy Lee Polis was attacked inside a Rosedale, Md. McDonalds after attempting to use the restroom.
"They started ripping my hair, throwing me on the floor, kicking me on my face," Polis told the Baltimore Sun of the April 18 attack by two women, which sent Polis into a seizure. "When I tried to use the phone, the girl ripped the phone out of my hand . . . when I sat there to collect my stuff back, the one girl kicked me in my back, stepped on my arm. I had so many bruises. . . . I don't remember having a seizure. I do remember going into one, that's why I tried to sit there and be calm. Every time I tried to walk away, they followed me." Polis added: "I'm just afraid to go outside now because of stuff like this."
Here's where the possible public accommodations issue comes in: Polis claims that the McDonalds employees failed to intervene in the minutes-long attack, and even protected the women when they returned to assault Polis again. "Everybody in that McDonalds sat there and watched me get hurt, and nobody did nothing at all," Polis told the Sun. "The one guy when he saw them coming back there, he walked away. . . . And then they told them to leave because the cops were coming, so they could protect them, and not me." One McDonalds employee filmed the entire attack with his cell phone.
The incident is not isolated: In a survey of local trans people conducted by the DC Trans Coalition, 70 percent of respondents reported experiencing verbal harassment or assault when using public restrooms. A recent national report on trans Americans found that 53 percent of respondents "reported being verbally harassed or disrespected in a place of public
accommodation, including hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies," with 3 percent of respondents reporting physical assault in a retail store and 2 percent reporting assault in a hotel or restaurant.
Tonight, Trans Maryland will host a vigil outside the Rosedale McDonalds in support of Polis. "TransMaryland joins together with various groups and allies to the transgender community in condemning the violent attack on Chrissy Lee Polis," a release on the vigil reads. “Our primary concern is for the victims privacy, safety and well being, that a community of support envelope her through this difficult time and that the legal process be unhampered and thorough. We believe in the sanctity of the individual and acts of violence which profane this will not be tolerated. We call on all appropriate authorities to investigate this incident to the full capabilities of the law to include any available remedies.”
Supporters will gather for a vigil tonight at 7 p.m. in front of the McDonald's at 6315 Kenwood Ave.