McDonald's attack not an isolated incident

April 26, 2011

The attack on Chrissy Polis ("18-year-old charged in McDonald's beating," April 25) is a tragic and disturbing reminder that Maryland is still a state that fails to provide adequate civil rights protections to transgender people. Each day, transgender Marylanders face discrimination in housing, employment, health care and public accommodations, and they have no legal recourse.

The Maryland General Assembly this year again failed to pass the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act. Just one week after the legislative session ended, Ms. Polis was beaten while she was in a Baltimore County McDonald's. The cause for her attack was apparently that she had dared to use the woman's restroom.

The reality is that such attacks are far too common in the transgender community. A 2007 report prepared under the auspices of the Virginia Department of Health estimates that 40 percent of transgender Virginians have been victims of assault. Transgender youth are even more vulnerable to physical attacks, with 55 percent reporting having been physically assaulted.

Though both brutal and disturbing, this recording of Ms. Polis' attack has the ability to raise awareness about the problem of violence and discrimination against transgender men and women in Maryland. We urge authorities investigate Ms. Polis' attack as a hate crime based on gender identity, and we are hopeful that our legislators will stand for equality next year and pass the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act.

Rianna P. Brown and Ian Anthony, Baltimore

The writers are incoming co-chairs of the LGBT Law Student Alliance at the University of Maryland School of Law in Baltimore.

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