Transgender Woman Beaten at McDonald’s. Why?

Video of a transgender woman getting beaten at a McDonald’s has gone viral and received plenty of media attention. I would like to explore why these crimes happen. What lies behind bashing our transgender sisters and brothers?

In case you missed it. Here are the details:

After a 22-year-old trans woman named Chrissy Lee Polis used a McDonald’s bathroom, two female customers punched and kicked her until she had a seizure. An older woman tried to help, but other customers and employees stood by or cheered on the brutality. One employee videotaped the beating and posted it on YouTube, saying the assault was okay because the victim “was a man dressed like a woman.”

The video is available here.

So far, a 14-year-old girl has been charged as a juvenile and charges are pending against an 18-year-old woman.

In the U.S. the transgendered are continually subjected to, and must worry about, verbal or physical abuse when using facilities like public restrooms.

Why does this happen?

Chrissy’s case is not typical. Usually men are the assailants and they bash from feeling threatened by biologically-born males who blur gender lines. Why threatened? Men hold higher status, as evidenced by our cultural preference for sons, or by the fact that women will wear pants but men won’t wear dresses or carry purses. Meanwhile, those who succeed might be praised, “You the man!” but those who fail may be taunted, “You’re a girl!” So men who act like women are seen as demeaning themselves, while those who resemble women in any way threaten the divide between the sexes, and with that, male superiority.

Some of this may have been going on at McDonald’s as male employees cheered and proudly posted the video, while claiming cruelty against the transgendered is justified.

Yet females were the main culprits of this crime. What were they trying to accomplish by their violence?

Chrissy thought they wanted to pick a fight (see Chrissy’s account here). Before entering the bathroom a man asked how she was doing, and she brushed him off. As soon as she came back out a women spit in her face and accused her: “You tried to talk to my man!” just before the battering began.

The young brutes may well have detected Chrissy’s gender status. According to the Baltimore Sun, the attackers reportedly said, ‘That’s a dude. That’s a dude. And she’s in the female bathroom.” These women likely didn’t have the motivations of male attackers. So what were they trying to accomplish?

Their motivation was certainly aligned with trans-bashers, with both working so hard to create a sense of superiority. By the simple act of beating someone down these young thugs likely felt empowered and better than the person they pummeled. If they figured out that Chrissy was transgender, she likely seemed an especially desired target as they could easily latch onto her devalued status, leading the persecutors to feel both disdainful and called to punish (punishment meted out by a superior, of course.)

But all this suggests that the tormentors don’t feel as good about themselves as they would like. Otherwise they wouldn’t need to work so hard to feel self-important. Yes, those higher on the pecking order are more likely to bully, but they do so only because they don’t feel superior-enough as is. Meanwhile, it’s unfortunate that our society makes cruelty so easy by failing to recognize the human worth and dignity of each human being.

Georgia Platts

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on May 2, 2011, in feminism, gender, LGBTQ+, psychology, sexism and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. Wow! Looks like it’s a real thing 😦”

    That’s what happens when society is binary in thinking. I don’t know why society in trying to be less racist, sexist, etc can’t be better in that way without jumping all to the other side. There seems to be no happy medium or reasonable thinking. You can be not sexist, or transphobic or racist, and try to find what works for everybody or do something to not overstep trying to not look transphobic that you hurt others in the process. I swear society often seems to much in the thinking of “if you’re not with me, you’re against me”. Black and white thinking, when much of life is many shades of grey. That’s why I’m independent and never really associated with conservatives but also liberals, because both far ends annoy the shit out of me. Granted conservatives are definitely more damaging and serious, like not believing in global warming.

    Come on, seriously, this is not something you can dismiss and then be wrong about. Saying oops I was wrong is too late, as that’s human existence in the balance, defeats the whole purpose of our ancestors reproducing and surviving only for us to have a world that could be apocalyptic 100 years from now or sooner. But liberals and people offended by every fucking stupid thing is annoying as shit too and these laws or companies doing this is because they are so scared of being sued or seen as transphobic, even though a reasonable person should see it’s because of concern for women or doing stuff and thinking it through some more. Fact of the matter is people are smart and there are bad people so it’s important to close out loop holes, which apparently trans or trying to look in support of trans people is more important than female inmates safety that’s all. It’s just half of the population, just women vs 1% of the population. How ridiculous and disrespectful is that and concerning. Balance people. balance.

    • I think we shouldn’t assume that some people are completely pure and others are not. Some people will use a victim identity as a way to bully and abuse others. But when that happens of course we should not paint the whole group with the same brush. I’m sure you would agree.

  2. It’s unclear to me why it’s necessary to shave one’s genitals since both women and men have pubic hair. So I don’t get the lawsuit. Why doesn’t she do it herself? Right?”

    Well, which is why common sense is needed and to utilize a “reasonable person” point of view in it, than being too scared or over protective. I think we know the obvious reason why “she” did it. It’s the same reason bad priests may molest young kids. They see loopholes and something than can exploit. Religion is not inherently bad, but it’s very powerful, so it can attract bad people because of being able to exploit. Remember how I brought up how it’s not as common for women to sexual harass like katy perry did, but how feeling you can get away with something because of your sex or position, etc allows a person to do something that might not have done if they felt they would be punished for it.

    This person imo, felt they had the “you’re transphobic” clause and the media and the PR nightmare he felt it would put on these women or whatever. That this person could ask for scrotum waxed for pervy, creepy reasons, but thinking “she” is slick and not that it’s for pervy reasons and anyone challenges this person, they are “transphobic” right? Loopholes. I think people can look out for trans people, while at the same time, not just going frickin autopilot and automatically accuse someone or assuming their concern is out of being transphobic and concern for themselves. Therefore, taking a step back and looking at the situation, assessing it in a true context, looking at both sides and determining what’s best. It seems conclusions can be made to fast. An example of that and there was a lawsuit and rightfully so.

    A prison in the Uk, apparently so scared of being discriminate against trans people, they don’t even make sure that the person is actually going through the procedures. A male prisoner basically crossed dressed and gave himself a female name and was put in a female prison. He raped several female inmates while in there. They apologized and lawsuits happened and he was put in a male prison, but too late for the female inmates raped. It’s one of the obvious reasons why male and female prisons are not together, because for the safety of female inmates. I know there are conjugal visits that happen for male prisoners, but that’s a bit different. I read how california law prevents for true medical check if an inmate identifies as the opposite sex, there’s the link there, the second one. So loopholes right there that could be exploited. Think of a male prisoner gets out and say has money….look at Weinstein. He could pay for breast implants, commit a crime and identify was a woman and just have tons of access and prey on women in a female prison right?

  3. I know you’re one for equal rights and somethings are tough for you. But like I feel for trans people in the sense of the hate and violence they could feel. So I get protecting them, and I would be respectful not purposely saying their born gender. But I don’t like when people are forced to abide and play such games to appease when that’s not the person’s sex. Reality vs what one wants are not the same thing. We don’t get to get that choice in real life, but some reasons trans people do? I saw a stupid did now by Always, and how they are changing the female symbol, because it’s “offends” trans people. Changing something that’s made for 50% of the population because less than 1% is offended by. Plus, that would mean it’s a f transition to male that would be offended as seeing themselves as a man.

    But contradicting themselves. Saying they are male…..but being offended by it means they are admitting to their “female bodily functions”, which well means you’re a woman….. I’m sorry, but men do not have periods for obvious reasons, because you know guy’s don’t have those born female reproduction organs and functions that nature made. I just don’t like how it goes too far with some liberals where people that make up less than 1% rights matter more than the majority (women) and can create loopholes and some liberals too concerned that they don’t use common sense or appropriate rules to prevent loopholes that this sets up big time or could. Two here I saw.

    • I agree that women’s experience of menstruation and pregnancy shouldn’t be removed because transwomen feel uncomfortable. It’s not fair to deny the experience of the great majority of women. I have never born a child myself, and I am biologically female from birth, but I don’t think that the experience of giving birth shouldn’t be talked about because it makes me uncomfortable or something. I think a dialogue needs to occur on that topic.

      • Well, the point is also how I think being rationale is the best thing. I think the US would be better if more people were more in the middle ground. I think very conservative people are worse than really liberal, but both sides are so damn binary in thinking. Things and life is many times, shades of grey. You can still be a person not wanting a trans person being persecuted and having empathy, but still want common sense in rules or you know care as much for half of the population (women) which should be important. Like rational thinking and common sense and go on that basis. I’ll copy and paste the stuff from those links and my points. Yes, I know most trans people go through the operations because of how they perceive themselves or identify, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t or won’t be some that can’t be pervy or used to manipulate the system. This is from the first link I posted.

        “Madeleine Kearns tells the disturbing story of Canadian trans activist, Jessica Yaniv, a Canadian biologically-intact man who identifies as a transgender woman and who is trying to legally coerce beauticians into waxing his scrotum. Yes, you read that correctly: He’s trying to force unwilling women to handle his genitalia.” “Let’s look at the conflict between Title IX, Title VII, and the Equality Act, a bill the Democrats passed through the House in May (so far, it’s going nowhere in the Senate.)

        “In 2018, Yaniv filed 16 human rights complaints with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, charging various waxing and esthetic salon workers with transphobic discrimination for declining to provide waxing and other beautification services to her male genitals.” This person is apparently a ” social activist” too. This echoes previous calls Yaniv has made to have the very women she is taking to court deported for “transphobia.”

        One of the women would work at home and has children there, yet these women lost their jobs because of this person using “transphobia” against women’s rights. Some didn’t want to deal with the stress of the legal stuff and perhaps PR pressure put on them. This creep also according to reports,has child pornography or something like that. But look at that, when trans rights clashes with me too movement. That’s what I mean with stopping binary thinking. If someone is uncomfortable with a trans person in a lockerroom or intimate moment or setting, they are automatcially transphobic and just have to deal with it right? Call me crazy, but I think half of the population and majority deserves just as much protection and rights against the very small trans minority…..

      • It’s unclear to me why it’s necessary to shave one’s genitals since both women and men have pubic hair. So I don’t get the lawsuit. Why doesn’t she do it herself? Right?

  4. Although this post was written some years ago it is very relivent today. You’d think that if there are more open transgender citizens in society people would become more excepting. In some cases I think that it has become the opposite. In Chrissy’s case she did nothing wrong and she was targeted just for being herself. A good point was made in the article saying that usually men are the agressers because the believe it is demeaning the all males. In this case woman were the agressers. It makes me wonder why were the so angry that they thought it was their duty to brutally hurt this person for no reason. At first I was just thinking that they are probably just closed minded and not very excepting but after thinking about it for awhile I came up with another theory for this case. I believe the reason that these woman were so angry started when Chrissy walked in and a man said something to her. The woman got angry because she claimed that Chrissy made a move on her man which is far from the truth. my opinion for this situation is that the woman became so mad because the felt insecure. I think when they realized that the woman that the man was talking to was a transgender they thought they didn’t like that men were finding her attractive and became possessive. Today there are more and more people coming out as trasgender which is a great thing because I believe everyone should be able to embrace who they truly are but for some reason it seems like people are becoming less excepting and that is definitely a problem right now and I hope everyone overcomes their negative thoughts about transgender individuals.

  5. I tried to watch the entire video, but just could not bring myself to do so. My cousin is a transgender, so I can understand how difficult this must have been for Chrissy. I mean, to be batten and spit on for being who you are, what kind of a world do we live in?

    The fact that everyone just stood around an filmed it absolutely disgusts me. I don’t understand how the majority of people could be so closed-minded. I would have thought that at this day and age things would be different. Transgenders are not exactly rare; today, they are loud and proud. I wish others could just let them be. They are not hurting others by being who they are, so what exactly is the problem?

  6. I loved everything about this post. It is true, “sex is biologically based” while gender is less black and white and more of what you choose to be. Even if this mother’ son is gay, why try to control who he wants to be? In our society, gays and lesbians are constantly depicted as negative and abnormal. According to WRWC, “lesbians are often thought to be man-haters, inadequate women, suffering from a traumatic sexual experience, or socially and psychologically maladjusted” (p. 126). How someone chooses to live should be completely up to them. It is cruel how society looks down on homosexuals and transgenders when they are just as human as everyone else. Because society makes it so hard for homosexuals to be their true self, they often hide their true identity which can cause identity conflicts (p. 127). Everyone should be accepted for who they are and not what society expects them to be.

  7. Reading this blog and watching the video posted was really upsetting to me because first of all i cant believe the sixteen year old was being charged as a juvinile and theres absolutly no reason why the eighteen year old hasnt been charged yet. There is nothing anyone can say that would make me believe that this type of violence or any type of violence like this is acceptable. Its a hate crime and these girls need to be taught a lesson and deserve a big punishment.

  8. I am not very clear as to what transpired in the bathroom, however I think making comments of a sexual nature in the presence of a minor is a serious offence. That said the brutality and violence directed towards this person was absolutely uncalled for in my opinion. I know that we are all entitled to our opinions, but saying kudos to the young women for assaulting someone was downright cruel. I mean what is happening to humanity? Do we realize that the person that was severely beaten is a HUMAN BIENG? I think the women that assaulted the other individual should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law because this act of brutality is nothing short of a hate crime; the spectators should immediately be fired from their jobs (with the exception of the manager because he at least tried to break up the fight). The employees I don’t think can be prosecuted by law because they didn’t have to break up the fight, but to watch and laugh as a fellow human is brutally assaulted is SO inhumane.

    • And please keep in mind that there is no evidence that Chrissy said anything sexual to the women. One of the commenters to this post put forth the idea that Chrissy said something as a way to excuse the brutality, but there’s no evidence for the commenter’s claim.

      And as you say, even if she had, the abuse is completely uncalled for.

  9. I am not going to defend anybody as I do not know the exact details, but I do know that violence should not be the answer. I know how offensive something someone says can be but whatever they say, it is just words and I don’t think reacting violently is a good solution.

  10. The Transgender Woman Beaten at McDonald’s why?
    Ok, I seen the video.. I must admit I was VERY upset watching, I felt as if I wanted to go though the video and …. well I’ll leave that up to the imagination. I was in disbelieve the entire time, I had to watch it again to make sure I was seeing and hearing correctly. That was a hate crime no matter how you look at it, a crime on a person who did not deserve it. I honestly don’t care what she (victim) was doing, well I take that back. I don’t know what the vic did to the kids in the bathroom, however if it was not life threaten then them dang girls had no RIGHT to do that to her. When we as adults have a problem with another human we deal with matters in a different way, unless it is/was life threaten , then you have to handle it accordingly. Just imagine what the Parents think? (all party’s) Then the sorry azz excuse that was given by one of the kids ” over using a bathroom”. Are you Serious? you beat this woman into what appears to be a seizure over the use of a toilet? If that was not the case then the kids should have said what really took place in the restroom. How I took what I seen and read, it just was not right.. Then you have employees standing by NOT doing a dang thing, but laughing and recoding this horrible beating, The video did help don’t get me wrong, then it took for an older WOMAN to try pulling them kids off of the vic. Wow, and the Police is going to charge the fourteen year ”kid” as a juvenile.. No! she wanted to act as if she was grown, then by all means she should have been treated/charged as a adult.. What gave them two the right to do that? It really does not sit well with me. I understand the laws are different in Baltimore, however this is part of my opinion that I can put into writing.. Then while the vic was having an ”seizure” the employees STILL didn’t do nothing to help her, they didn’t even try holding her (vic) head.. then you hear in the background ”yall need to get out of here the police are coming”. ok. I have to end this right here, but I hope the vic is doing ok/well.. and far as the kids, well………..May God Bless them.
    I want to do more research on this article something sounds like it’s missing. I’m not going to be able to find out what really took place, but I hope I can follow up on the story..

    • I look forward to your research.

      One more time I’d like to reiterate that there’s no evidence that Chrissy said anything to the girls in the bathroom. Snowisfun always believes that gays and transgendered people bring bashing on themselves, regardless of any evidence.

  11. Timothy Lepisi

    Watching the video seriously was sickening. After I had watched it I wished I hadn’t. I don’t care what the transgender had said in the bathroom, if anything, but no one deserves this kind of beating. I’m not sure what the motive behind this beating was for the two attackers, I just hope that justice is served and that they get what they deserve. Is this a hate crime? I don’t know if this is considered a hate crime simply because of the fact that the person being attacked was transgender, but I’m sure that the fact that she was a transgender female had something to do with the attack.

  12. Honestly, I do not feel like this beating or anything about has to do with sexism or any type of male>female thinking. This attack to me comes off as a hate crime. It clearly could have started out as a brawl over a woman seeing her as a threat if her or any other man was hitting on her. Once they learned she was a he it escalated to a point where the only thing that would stop the beatings is the simple fact reality set in and the thought of seizing from blunt trauma results in brain damage, they got scared and fled. As far as the employees, it is disgusting at the HORRIBLE job the manager did at attempting to break it up they was probably some excitement with the other employees when the thought of a cat fight crossed their mind.

    • I agree that this was a hate crime.

      But hate crimes against gay and transgendered individuals are tied to sexism, as I’ve tried to explain.

      Perhaps I should add that in non-patriarchal cultures, the transgendered are not feared and hated, and but are often highly valued. The hatred in patriarchal cultures comes from a threat to those in power (the patriarchy). Once LGBT are stigmatized, others feel free to pick on them, too, as did these young women.

  13. It angers me that those that are attempting to justify the beating of Chrissy keep referring to it as self-defense and a reaction to a “transgender” crime as if the woman’s sexuality/gender makes any difference to what she may or may not have said to the teenage girl. Being transgender does not make what a person does any worse or more deserving of punishment. I also have a problem with even calling what Chrissy MAY have done (because no one seems to know for sure what was really said in the bathroom) a “crime”. This is the first time I’ve seen an exchange of words be considered a crime, and even less an offense where physical abuse is justifiable. I think the reaction would be quite different if the person beaten had been a straight man or woman; more would probably see it as an overreaction because honestly, it isn’t that uncommon for an adult to make a sexual or inappropriate comment to someone in a public place. If the 14-year old really felt uncomfortable, she would have immediately walked away from the person making the comment and gone to someone for help if she felt threatened or unsafe.

  14. I believe that these hate crimes continue to happen because of cultural stereotypes that dictate so-called “appropriate” gender-based behavior and the pure lack of education. As what Ms. Platts discussed, once a male or female behaves in a way that violates gender norms, people see it as a threat to their own sexuality. People who commit hate crimes are usually people who are already angry and unhappy with their own lives. They take advantage of the already compromised status of the LGBT community and use them as a scapegoat to make them feel better about their own insecurities.

    People who read about this incident and watch the video need to realize that there is nothing wrong with Chrissy – there is something horribly wrong with her attackers and their way of thinking that justifies this horrible act. Though we cannot really change people’s opinions about the LGBT community, everyone should respect every human being’s right to live free of abuse.

  15. I did not watch the video so I do not know exactly what the purpose was behind the girls actions or anything that may have happened prior to the beating. I do feel that the girls are to blame for their actions though because other than self defense against someone who is physically attacking you I do not think that violence is acceptable. Especially to the level in which these girls used on the transgender woman. It is so disgusting how people treat each other and the fact that people were there and did nothing to stop it only makes this incident that much more disturbing.

  16. Tonya (Facundo) Kamaloni

    “Meanwhile, it’s unfortunate that our society makes cruelty so easy by failing to recognize the human worth and dignity of each human being.” Georgia Platts

    This statement rings especially true for me today when every news story is leading with the death of Osama Bin Laden. Violence will always lead to more violence if we do not stop and recognize the worth of another person. I think that with some of the original posts, the feeling is that if justified, the violent act against this person is okay. It is not okay. There are things that are just wrong. If the children felt threatened in any way, they should’ve found an adult or called the police. To resort to a violent act makes them guilty. Just as I believe we are guilty as a nation, for teaching our children that it’s okay to strike someone who hits us first.

  17. We will never know exactly what happened during this incident. What I know is that beating someone until they begin having a seizures not a way to solving a problem and just not right. The transgender woman may have made a horrible choice about what she may have said in the bathroom to those two girls. When it is all said and done nobody deserves either kind of treatment, whatever the transgender woman said in the restroom nor the horrible beating. “It is unfortunate that our society makes cruelty so easy by failing to recognize the human worth and dignity in each human being.” I absolutely agree.

  18. I’m sorry but I don’t see how people can actually watch this video and think those girls were right for beating that woman down like that. No matter what, words are words but once you make it physical then there’s a problem. Now if there was something else we didn’t see before like the transgender woman saying something inappropriate then I don’t know if I would say it was a hatred crime, but with all they did they need to be prosecuted for their actions, it’s ridiculous that no one stopped this and the people at McDonalds didn’t call the authorities. I know personally if there was a disturbance in the public the people that work there would most likely do a lot more and would call police so in that sense I do believe that part of it was a hate crime

  19. Gladys Price

    By viewing the video clip and reading the article, I still am unclear as to what really happened in the bathroom,that would initiate such a violent act. I believe it was inappropriate for the transexual to be talking about sex with the girls, but I do not believe it was that severe to where the transexual had to get beaten into she had a seizure. Once the girls realized that the conversation was inappropriate, they should have walked away and talked to the manager of McDonald’s. I believe that both girls should be punished for their bad decision. Violene is not the answer to everything.

    • There’s no evidence that Chrissy said anything to the girls in the bathroom. Snowisfun always believes that gays and transgendered people bring bashing on themselves, regardless of any evidence.

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