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Violence in Baltimore Evidence of Transphobic Culture

Posted on the 25 April 2011 by Juliez

the scene of the crime

(Warning: The following video link shows real and brutal violence.)

This video, which surfaced on the internet yesterday morning, shows a transgender woman being beaten by two female customers at a McDonald’s restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland. The two young women appear to have attacked the woman after realizing she was transgender, brutally and violently kicking and hitting her as she curls into a ball on the ground. The physical violence, which eventually caused the woman to suffer a seizure on the floor of the same McDonald’s, is only a piece of the injustice. Out of the employees and fellow customers in the store, only two feebly attempt to help the woman. The others stand by, cheering on the two attackers and filming the whole order on their camera phones, which is how the incident came to the attention of the public. Several shots in the video show store employees standing by and laughing as the woman suffers a seizure from her blows to the head, and one man can be heard telling the attackers to run before the police arrive.

Even more shocking is the news that one of the attackers has already been arrested on juvenile charges from the event, as she is only 14 years old. (Source: The Smoking Gun). Information on Vernon Hackett, the McDonald’s employee who filmed the attack, has also been revealed via his own Facebook and Twitter accounts, where evidence of his own transphobia is abundantly clear.

Media coverage of this incident has been quite limited– most of the information is only available through internet news outlets and blogs, and troublingly, these focus on the racial issues presented in the video rather than the clear issue of transphobia. While it has not been confirmed that the woman is indeed transgender, police reports do call the victim a woman, despite Vernon Hackett’s angry claim that: “[sic] Tha Title Of That Video Is A Lie….That Was Not A Female That Was Getting Beat Up…. That Was A Man….He Was Dressed Lik A Woman…. And He Was In Tha Females Bathroom Knowing He Was A Man…..”

Fox Nation, the conservative news outlet run by Fox News, has reported on the story under the false and misleading headline:‘Woman’ Beat Up At McDonald’s Was A Male Cross-Dresser. The police reports, (which are available to view here and here) identify the woman as Ms. and use only female pronouns for her. The woman was using the women’s restroom in a public restaurant because she clearly identified herself as a woman. This is regardless of biology, regardless of sex– this is gender identity. Whether you are born with it or find it later on, we all have a right to a gender identity. This violent case shows how fear can turn human beings into monsters who terrorize innocent victims based on gender alone. Luckily this case garnered enough attention, probably due to the media of the video, to end in two arrests. However, many similar incidents of gender-based or LGBTQ violence occur day after day and go unreported.

We need to stop the fear and stigma that surrounds transgender people, and bring attention to transphobic violence.

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