Saturday, April 23, 2011

No Samaritans

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 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 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 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 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 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.......


  1. I watched this and I have several thoughts go through my mind. One was you are just as guilty for allowing someone get hurt if you do nothing. Also I thought about the videos for It Gets Better, well i think I will keep that part private to not inflame things here. People hurt and kill things that they fear. Unfortuantely, this is just another example of someone being different and what society does to them. So sad so very very sad

  2. When did beating ANYONE become a laughing matter and made to be ridiculed by others? As for the employees of a business that is just wrong and they just stood there and watched while this poor woman was in pain and having a seizure, and doing NOTHING that actually made me physically sick to my stomach along with my jaw dropping to the ground I was stunned.. Kudos to the one only women that tried to and helped, and sympathy that she also got punched for the basic human compassion..
    I hope the employees that were involved in this get charged as well and have to face up to the consequences for their lack of compassion and their shoddy behavior in general.
    I have to wonder about humanity in general when I see and hear about these things and they seem to be more frequently, It seems to me that people in general just dont care about people, I love differences in people, but the lack of compassion isnt one of them.. ok could go on for ages but wont

  3. This video saddened and angered me, but sadly did not shock me. I was a victim of anti-gay violence. I have a small scar inside my mouth. When I feel it with my tongue I think "Yeah, straight people can't be trusted". It's sad, but it's how I feel. The transgendered community seems to take the brunt of ant-gay violence. My prayers go out to her and to the old lady. SHe is a hero.

  4. It always astounds me that people won't get involved. Me, I'm usually the one who steps into it, maybe with a loud "KNOCK IT OFF!" or some other remark.

    But we need to be "Our brothers keepers" to quote a certain book.

  5. Hello, I'm new to your blog and YT channel...but I wanted to say that I support you and your family speaking up and standing up for these people as well as what you and your family have been sharing with YT...and I hope you continue to do so...despite others that might send you hate mail or become a roadblock for you,Jay, and your children. God Bless!

  6. This seriously upset me as I watched it the first time, the second time I became sad, and now the third time I've watched I am no longer shocked or sad, I'm just confused. That could be your best friend lying there.. What if those girls had a friend or someone they loved, a family member etc that was trans gendered, would they beat him/her up too? I have a hard time believing that would be the case.

    Though this has nothing to do with hate, it's all prejudice, this was very uncalled for and is all about the lack of understanding and information among the rest of the world, (gay and straight). They don't know why there was a "man" in the womens restroom, because they considered her a man, which she obviously didn't. I hope this turns out well. And enlightens people.

    Take care. :)