Over the past three months, there have been countless retellings of the unfortunate incident in which two young women, Teonna Monae Brown and an unnamed girl, severely assaulted Chrissy Lee Polis, a transgender woman, because of her gender identity ("Woman, 19, pleads guilty in transgender beating case," Aug 5).
This horrific incident is symbolic of a larger problem that is not limited to Maryland. It is evidence of a culture that still does not accept its transgender brothers and sisters. We need more public education around the everyday hardships that transgender individuals face, from using public transportation and showing identification to interviewing for jobs, filling out employment or housing applications, and obtaining medical care. Until more of the media stops under-representing or misrepresenting transgender people, none of this will change.
Maryland is now at a point at which it cannot waver in its responsibility to its transgender residents. All Marylanders should have the ability to take care of and provide for themselves, and the persons they love. We must allow our coworkers, neighbors, friends and family members to remain productive members of society with fair and equal access to jobs, housing and public accommodations.
We thank The Sun for telling Chrissy's story, but we call on it and other media to continue this discussion even when there isn't a shocking incident in the news. Action must be taken by the legislature to expand Maryland's anti-discrimination protections. With greater awareness comes caring, and with caring, we build a stronger community for the future.
The writer is senior media strategist for The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun