Baltimore McDonalds Attack on Transwoman Not About Trans?

An additional blog about the recent attack on a transwoman in a Baltimore McDonalds last week. There have been multiple ralliesvigils and petitions held to support the trans community as well as efforts to hold McDonalds accountable. And with all the efforts, new information has risen about what the motivation was for the attack. All of our first impressions were, as would be expected, that it was about transphobic oppression, especially because it started in a bathroom. But what if trans status was not the root of the issue? And if it wasn’t, why is everyone continuing to talk about TRANS?

Many articles are publishing that statement and comments by the survivor has supported it. However, in a video interview, she clearly states that the two women attacked her out of jealously and rage stating that the two girls” just wanted to pick a fight that night.” It was an attack over turf, not gender.  Two young women (one 18 and one 14) have been arrested, neither of which have made any statement for or against the idea it was a “hate crime” or transphobicly motivated attack. The Mcdonalds employee who did the filming has been fired – as well as having made quite an impression on the internet community with of his transphobic tweets and comments– all of which he has now removed and recanted on, but not without continuing to use the wrong pronouns…

Whether this event was originally sparked by transphobia or not, the subsequent treatment of trans identities following this event still supports my previous statements about trans folks positioning in society. Furthermore, if trans identity had nothing to do with this, why is everyone talking about how this woman is trans? And before that, does this woman even call herself trans or are we labeling her? Equality Maryland -for some reason- is continually mentioned in articles as the representative authority to assure everyone that the survivor is a “transgender woman.” The woman herself has made statements that she has dealt with oppression because of her gender identity and gender related transition, but I’ve found no statements of her saying she identifies as trans.  Several articles addressing the assault also felt the need to discuss her “sex change”  and/or her past name, even though contextually it has nothing to do with anything else in the article. Yes, this woman is gender variant/trans/gender non-conforming, but what the hell does that have to do with this? Two women attacked another woman… where does trans come in here? Well, I guess we need to make sure everyone knows she’s not a “REAL” woman, she’s trans. Lets be sure to focus on that so there’s no mistaking her for someone “normal.” Its all just more gender-obsession and exotifying trans folks as an othered population. We’re so different, so magical, so fascinating that we need to dive into all the gritty details of difference. No chance of going about it as if trans folk were just as human as anyone else.

I’m not negating that trans/gender non-conforming folks are more risk than people who are not trans for violence and discrimination. Notice I haven’t made any “we’re just like you” or “we’re all equals” or any similar bullshit comments. The reality is that we don’t have an equal playing field here. Still, and at risk of opening a can of worms, part recognizing that trans folk deserve equal recognition via humanization is recognizing that sometimes we might get attacked for reasons other than the fact we’re trans. If I got beaten up, I don’t know whether it would be a relief or a let down to learn that it wasn’t about me being trans. Sure enough, a transphobic attack would (hopefully) get the community walking and talking which is always needed (though an attack shouldn’t be necessary to make it happen) but if I was attacked because someone was being a jerk, I wonder if it would it be some sort of weird, included-feeling relief that I was read as a “normal person” by my attacker… Weird way to think about passing politics…

And while situation likely had little or nothing to do with the woman being trans, it doesn’t change the fact that this really does happen to trans folks every day. So lets not forget it.

 

3 thoughts on “Baltimore McDonalds Attack on Transwoman Not About Trans?”

  1. Lib says:

    Thank the sky gods I don’t even believe in. I thought I was the only one thinking this. I am particularly disappointed with the trans-community on this one. I feel like they used young Polis in order to push other projects in the works. I’ve heard nothing about making sure there’s some support for her as a victim of a crime, just, a bunch of discussion to capitalize on her abuse for agenda’s that were already in the works. A couple weeks ago when folks were claiming Brooke-Lynn Pink Lady as a transwoman (despite the fact that he is a drag performer, and announced this himself) I was still going, maybe many of us are just desperate for community, but this week I’m pretty sure this is more about politics than people, and that makes me sick.

  2. Jessie says:

    According to the news about the convictions and sentencings of the attackers, it did turn out to be about Polis’ transness after all. The women were angry that there was a “man” in the women’s bathroom.

    http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-08-04/news/bs-md-co-mcdonalds-beating-plea-20110804_1_chrissy-lee-polis-teonna-monae-brown-transgender-woman

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