Gender Violence: The Attack on Chrissy Lee Polis
Gender Violence: The Attack on Chrissy Lee Polis
Chrissy Lee Polis, a twenty-two year old transwoman was brutally attacked on Monday, April 18th, 2011, at a local Baltimore County McDonald’s on Kenwood Avenue, in Rosedale, MD. She was attacked by two young women, fourteen and eighteen years old, for attempting to enter the women’s restroom.
The incredibly disturbing video of her attack was videotaped by twenty-two year old Vernon Hackett and posted on youtube, where it was later removed. Yet, it has since appeared on other sites. It has now gone viral.
We warn that the video is incredibly violent and potentially triggering. Please, watch with caution.
When the video originally appeared, before Chrissy’s identity as a transwoman was released, conservative groups immediately described the beating as a racial hate-crime. The two attackers are young black women. Chrissy is a young white transwoman. In Baltimore Sun’s article on the incident, they barely mention the issue of gender violence and choose to highlight the racial dynamics instead. In the Baltimore Sun’s televised piece, they didn’t mention Chrissy’s gender identity at all.
However, a tweet at the time of attack, confirms that it was caused from Chrissy attempting to enter the women’s restroom.
On Vernon Hackett’s facebook page, he has made the statements:
That was not a female that was getting beat up … that was a man... He was dressed lik a woman... And he was in tha females bathroom knowing he was a man... And when told to get out tha Ladies bathroom he got smart with everybody so the two girls beat him up.
Everybody sending me messages Because of tha Race and everybody thinks this is Female... It’s not... he was a male in tha bathroom with those two girls.
When watching the video it becomes immediately evident that this is a gender-based hate crime.
The two girls beat Chrissy until she collapsed into a seizure. She was transported to Franklin Square Hospital for treatment after officers arrived around 8pm. The fourteen year-old girl is being tried as a juvenile. The charges against the eighteen year-old are still to be determined. The State’s Attorney’s office states that they are investigating the crime.
After immensely concentrated media attention, McDonald’s released a statement on their website:
There's no room for violence under the Golden Arches. We strongly condemn the videotaped assault in one of our Baltimore franchised restaurants. Working with the authorities, we now have more facts, and we want to share our actions with you.
First and foremost, our thoughts are with the victim during this time.
Our franchisee is investigating the behavior and response of his employees. Action has been taken, and the crew member who made the video is no longer employed by his organization. Appropriate action regarding other employees will take place as warranted.
We want to reassure our customers that your neighborhood McDonald's is a safe, welcoming place for everyone. We share our customers' concern. We are doing everything possible to make sure the right thing is done.
What remains most astounding is the length/intensity of the beating and the bystanders’ reactions. The attacks dealt two rounds of attack on Chrissy. In the beginning of the attack, the manager did try to stop the females but disappeared after a few minutes. Near the end, an elderly female customer did attempt to put a stop to it; and was the only person present who continously used the female pronoun when addressing Chrissy. Visible were numerous others who did, at best, absolutely nothing but stand and watch - and at worst, laugh and make jeering gender-demeaning related comments, such as: seeing one of Chrissy’s breasts and sarcastically taunting to “tap that”. When realizing that the police were called, the male employees quickly took up concern over the female attackers and warned them to run before the police arrived.
This attack comes just two months after the death of Tyra Trent, a local transwoman who was murdered. Yesterday, April 23rd, was the first anniversary of Bethesda-teen's, Aiden Rivera Schaeff, suicide, a young transman. He took his life, before he could ever graduate high school, due to the excessive gender violence he had to endure.
Equality Maryland, Maryland’s leading LGBTQ advocacy group released this statement:
A member of our community was recently the victim of senseless violence. Equality Maryland is saddened that in this day and age, bigotry and discrimination against transgender individuals continue, especially in our own backyard. No person ever deserves to be a victim of violence regardless of their gender identity or presentation. We encourage the State’s Attorney General to investigate this as a hate crime based on gender identity. We are encouraged that McDonald’s is working with local police to investigate this incident, and hope that the company will follow-up with appropriate disciplinary action against any employees involved. We remain committed to advancing gender identity protections for the entire state of Maryland and will continue to work with local organizations and legislators to advance these protections.
This past week, Equality Maryland’s Board of Directors fired Executive Director Morgan Meneses-Sheets. Allegedly, from the decision to seek “new direction” after not winning any legislative victories this year. Many within the LGBTQ community say that Meneses-Sheets is one of the most dedicated trans-rights allies that any Maryland advocacy group has ever brought forth. This is said despite the controversy over this year’s Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, which failed to include public accommodations within its protections. The act did not pass this year. Public accommodations include: restrooms within McDonald’s.
There is a rally this Monday, April 25th,7:00 pm, at the McDonald’s where this brutal attack occurred: 6315 Kenwood Avenue - Rosedale, Maryland.
The community is asked to come out to show your support for Chrissy and to stand against all forms of gender violence.
Corey Reidy is an Indyreader collective member. She is also a collective member at Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse. Beyond these two grounding projects, Reidy aims to be an ever rabble-rouser, hoping always to be a part of multiple different radical projects, campaigns, and actions. While a devoted DIY journalist for Indyreader, she sometimes writes for other independent media projects, like: Baltimore OUTloud. Reidy is also working on her thesis, someday to be a book, (and would love contributions and insights!) that aims to research and analyze radical feminism and eating disorders.