This disturbing video shows violence against a transgender woman at a McDonald's restaurant in Baltimore County, Maryland. Smoking Gun reported that a McDonald's employee posted the video with comments that appear to blame the victim for being transgender and trying to use the restroom. The employee further accused the transgender woman of faking her seizure seen in the video.
McDonald's wrote they are "shocked" at this anti-transgender violence, and yet they have no anti-discrimination policy to protect transgender employees or customers. And this is not the first anti-transgender incident at McDonald's. In 2009, Zikerria Bellamy faced hiring discrimination and received a harassing anti-transgender phone call from a McDonald's manager. Change is overdue. These can not be treated as one-off situations where an employee gets fired and a press release issued. Real changes must be made.
We call upon McDonald's not only to add gender identity/expression to their non-discrimination policies but also to institute practices that show that McDonald's is committed to inclusion and safety for transgender and gender variant people. While policies sometimes have only limited effects, we know that policy and social change are mutually reinforcing, and McDonald's has not shown real commitment on transgender issues through their policies!
I recently saw the video of Chrissy Lee Polis, a transgender woman, as she was brutally assaulted at a McDonald's restaurant. One of your employees filmed the incident, posted it, and blamed the victim for being a transgender woman who attempted to use the restroom. Although I can not blame your company for the behavior of all of your customers, your policies and practices (or lack thereof) shape the climate in your restaurants and ultimately in society. In 2009, Zikerria Bellamy, a young transgender woman, faced discrimination and a harassing anti-transgender phone message from a McDonald's manager when she attempted to apply for a job with your company.
But firing someone and pointing to them as the bad apple does not make up for systemic problems. Nor does citing a non-specific support for non-discrimination. Policies need to be specific, enforced, and built into corporate practices and mandatory employee training! I want to let you know that I plan to take my business elsewhere until McDonald's adds gender identity/expression to its non-discrimination policies, as a signal that you are working towards a climate of transgender inclusion.
Further, I call upon McDonald's corporation to:
- Take appropriate disciplinary/administrative actions and conduct training with employees who were involved in this particular incident.
- Remove transgender exclusions from your employee health insurance policies.
- Have written HR plans/procedures that provide support to transgender employees through a process of transition as necessary and desired by employees.
- Re-label all lockable, single-user restrooms in all stores and buildings so that they are gender neutral.
- Integrate rudimentary training on inclusion based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression into mandatory employee trainings.