All In

[Trigger warning for violence, transphobia, transphobic hate crime, racism.]

Last week, Chrissy Lee Polis, a woman who is trans, was viciously attacked and beaten at a McDonald's in the Baltimore suburbs after she used the women's bathroom. Her attackers were two teenage young women, ages 14 and 18.

Polis is physically okay, despite the attack having triggered a seizure. Her attackers will be charged: The elder may face hate crimes charges. And should, in my estimation.

Here, you can see Polis address what the attack against her means for members of the whole community, how such vicious hatred reverberates. Which is, of course, the very raison d'ĂȘtre for a hate crime designation.

The details of the attack, including the video that was taken by a McDonald's employee and uploaded almost immediately to the internet, are available at Bilerico. Alex has a follow-up here, which includes responses from McDonald's, who has fired the employee who filmed and uploaded the attack and calls the incident "reprehensible."

I almost don't know where to begin discussion of this incident. It's so terrible—and yet to be shocked by a crime of this nature against a trans woman is a privilege. I am horrified and I am profoundly sad and I am angry—because this shit doesn't happen in a void. I am relieved that Polis is physically okay, but my heart hurts for the lingering psychological effects she may experience. And I ache for members of the trans* community, and their loved ones, who have yet another pointed reminder of the hatred and fear felt by so many cis people, socialized in a trans*-hostile culture that rigidly forces people into a gender binary and lazily relies on gender essentialism and arbitrarily privileges cisgenderedness.

And I am depressed that, because Polis is white and her attackers are black, white racists are using this incident to engage in despicable racism—which is, whether effectively or intentionally, just a way of silencing discussion of cis privilege.

And I am pleased that the police are taking this case seriously, and that much of the media reporting of the incident is actually decent and respectful, and that the local community is rallying around Polis, and that she has so much online support, and that McDonald's was unequivocal in denouncing the violence against her, all of which ought to be givens but unfortunately aren't.

And I am listening hard to the reminder, care of the elderly cis woman who stepped into the attack to try to help Polis, and who got a black eye herself for her trouble, standing between Polis and her attackers while Polis wrapped her arms around the stranger's leg, the importance of being All In.

And I am listening hard to the same reminder, provided by her attackers—and their tacit admonishment to be an active ally every day, to prevent shit like this from happening in the first place.

[H/Ts to Shakers Kay, Reba, and Lila.]

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