Saturday, April 23, 2011
All of us would like to think that if something truly horrible happened to us that someone would step forward to help us. If we are in a car accident or having a medical event, we would want someone to call the paramedics. If our house is on fire we would want a neighbor to call the fire department. And if we are being attacked by someone we would hope that those around us have enough compassion to call the police. However, what would you...could you...do if you were being attacked and instead of getting help...bystanders filmed your attack and laughed?
That is exactly what occurred recently at a McDonalds restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland. A trans woman attempting to us the restroom was confronted by two young woman who then attacked her and beat her to the point of seizures....in the meantime a McDonalds employee filmed the event and laughed. Only one elderly woman stepped forward to help and was rewarded with a punch in the face from one of the attackers. Video after the fold...
We would likely have heard nothing of this event were it not for the bystanding McDonald's employee who uploaded his video to YouTube. The video consequently drew an avalanche of outrage as it went viral. The backlash prompted this individual to not only close his YouTube account but also his facebook page. But as we all know, once you put something on the Internet, it can get out of your hands and take on a life of its own. It was from of one of the many YouTube pages mirroring this video that we were able to get footage of the attack which my husband Jay used to help try to get the word out about the attack. Watch with caution...
My reaction upon watching this was one of outrage. As a gay man, I know that the world is not a safe place for me and that violence is a possibility for me. For Trans people, the odds of violence go way up. This woman wanted nothing more than than to use the bathroom. Why should she have to be afraid to do so?
The two young women who attacked her were 14 and 18 years old and obviously reacted very strongly to what they saw as a man in the women's bathroom. Regardless of what their reasons were, they beat a person who had done no harm to them, did not fight back, and beat them to the point of having seizures...and then socked an old lady for good measure. No amount of "trans panic" justifies what they did. What made it so much worse was the fact that everyone stood by and watched. It was clear that the man who shot the video had not one shred of empathy for the person convulsing on the ground before him....in fact it was funny enough for him to laugh through her beating. It's utterly sickening and yet happens all too often.
The half hearted attempt at the beginning of the video by the McDonalds employee to pull of the girls was very short lived. No one defended this girl as she was dragged across the floor by her hair. If fact, employees laughed and shot video of the event prompting an elderly customer to feel compelled to take action on the beaten womans behalf. Then...McDonalds employees warned the attackers that the police were coming so they could flee.
Doesn't McDonalds have an obligation to ensure that its establishment is safe for all it's customers/...even if those customers are gay or trans? Are we so subhuman to them that they can't be bothered to help while we lay bleeding on their establishment floor? "Come as you are" my ass.
That elderly lady showed more courage and compassion than anyone on mcDonalds crew that night. I sincerely hope that McDonalds takes some form of action to rectify what happened to this woman...at the very least pay her medical bills. Even though the assailants where two non employees I think that McDonalds has had a part to play in this in the actions of those they employed.
Yet, if nothing else comes of this video, I hope it highlights the world in which trans people live. They often see discrimination from every angle by people who don't know what box to pigeon hole them in so they regard them in terms as less than human. That lack of understanding is just as likely to come from the gay community as it is from straight ones...even though many trans people have stood staunchly by our side in the fight for equal civil rights for all of us. There is often no safe place for trans people and this video of a trans woman being beaten for wanting to do something as simple as using the bathroom is an example of that sad fact.
No one deserves to be treated this way...no one. And if we can't get that now in the year 2011 than we have big problems. Trans men and women are people deserving the same respect we expect for ourselves. It is beyond time to recognize this. What happens to one of us can happen to all of us so who would you want to stand up for you?
Until next time dear readers.......