Maryland Delegate Calls for Trans Anti-Discrimination Bill Following Attack

Following news at the weekend of the brutal attack on Chrissy Lee Polis in a Baltimore McDonald’s restaurant by two young women, Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk (D-District 21) has called on Maryland lawmakers to take up a bill to specifically protect trans-identifying individuals from discrimination in the workplace, the credit sector and public accommodations, so as to send a strong message that anti-trans hate and discrimination is not acceptable.

From the letter (h/t Pam’s House Blend):

Incidents such as this illustrate why the transgender community in Maryland and elsewhere needs to be protected through antidiscrimination legislation.  Supporters of House Bill 235 in this past legislative session recognized this need and stood up for the rights of this community. While HB235 did not include protection from discrimination in public accommodations due to the intense pressure opponents placed on the bill’s supporters, the bill would have raised public awareness of the issue and paved the way for complete protection for Maryland’s transgender population. Contrary to statements made by those who should be leading the fight for civil rights in Maryland, this was not an anti-family bill, but a basic civil rights bill. The failure of this bill goes against Maryland’s long history of being in the forefront of civil rights movements.

This attack, which took place in District 8, has been broadcast all over the national news, and the video has gone viral, bringing shame to the State of Maryland for allowing such things to take place. I challenge each of the Senators who voted to recommit HB235 on sine die (see the link at to serve as primary sponsors of a stronger version of HB235 in the 2012 legislative session. It is time to rectify the wrong that has been done to transgender citizens of our State.

HB235, the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, was shelved on the last day of the legislative session after Senate lawmakers voted to recommit. 

The bill had been controversial among trans rights advocates because, while it did offer limited housing protections, an earlier clause giving full protection in public accommodations had been stripped from the bill by lawmakers who said that without doing so, the bill would not have a chance of passing. However, trans rights groups pointed out that without those protections trans citizens would be left vulnerable and it would be unlikely that lawmakers would then remedy this omission at a later date.

Maryland senate president Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, a Democrat, is credited in part with the failure of Maryland’s Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act after it emerged he called the bill “anti-family” during a television interview that aired April 8. He also said that senators wouldn’t employ “people with male sexual organs who wear a dress to serve as receptionists” so why should lawmakers ask the public to.

Following the attack, Trans rights advocates point out how the “bathroom bill” meme and the reducing of trans people solely to their sex characteristics serves to feed into the dehumanization of gender variant and trans individuals and therein contributes to anti-trans violent attacks.

A crowd of around 300 people including Chrissy Lee Polis’ family gathered at the Baltimore McDonald’s restaurant Monday to protest anti-trans violence. Read more here.

To read more background on the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, please click here.


Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to brainchildvn.


Norma V.
Norma Villarreal6 years ago

It seemed the girls were two idiotic delinquents looking for any excuse to fight.It's a shame their attack moved legislation into action, McDonald's, what actions will you take?

Vivianne Mosca-Clark

Fair actions for all people.
Sexual orientation should not be involved with it.
Beating up another person is not ok.
There there could even in some instances be the right move. Rare move.
This is not one of the those kind of instances.

Elizabeth K.
Elizabeth K6 years ago

Raffi C.

I do not think that all Republicans are racist bigots. I actually have 2 friends that are republicans (you used to only see that line used about blacks!)

The problem is that almost all of the people that you elected are racist bigots. So if they do not actually represent you, don't vote for them.

Robert H.
Robert H6 years ago

When the story of Chrissy Lee's beating showed up a few days ago on this site, there were a some people(?) making comments, trying to blame the victim. I had not been so mad in a long time. I do hope that justice is served. After the criminal trial is completed I hope that the victim would file a civil suit to make sure that the perpetrators never have anything but grief.

Sandra G.
Sandra G6 years ago

ANY ATTACK IS OUTRAGEOUS, WE ALREADY HAVE LAWS THAT IS FOR "EVERYONE" AGAINST LAW BREAKERS. It is getting out of control with so-called special laws for different groups of people. Keep it up & people who for example: are straight, are not racist, are white, etc. etc. THEY WILL HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO INSIST FOR "SPECIAL" LAWS TO PROTECT THEM AGAINST ALL THESE OTHER GROUPS. No wonder there is so much anger towards others as they try to make themselves "special" above others.

Pamela D.
Pamela D6 years ago

Until we have equal rights for every single american, we will always have ugly, heartbreaking actions like this.

Emily M.
Emily M6 years ago

I don't think HB 235 would have prevented this attack. It would have happened either way. Chrissy would not have been protected whether or not the bill was passed. The exclusion of a public accommodations protection is nothing short of giving permission to bigots to beat on trans people in public. Pervasive cissexism blacklash = violence against trans women.

Yvonne S.
Yvonne S6 years ago

The attack sickened me and I hope this goes through.

Clarence M.
Clarence Maloney6 years ago

Yes, needed. But Maryland did NOT pass the real Marriage Equality bill- that FATHERS AND MOTHERS ARE EQUAL- Presumptive Equal Parenting. Feminists in the Judicial Committee for years have opposed EQUAL RIGHTS for men family and parenting matters.

Clare C.
Clare C6 years ago

I think McDonalds has just as much to answer to here as does the lack of legislation in Maryland to prevent these HATE crimes. I was disgusted at this footage - and would be boycotting ALL McDonalds for this if I wasn't boycotting them already (as a vegetarian and enviornmentalist). These two women are certainly a sub-species that the human gene pool should eradicate.