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Governor pledges action after beating of transgender woman

Gov. Martin O'Malley today commended the Baltimore County state's attorney for bringing a hate crime charge in the beating of a transgender woman at a McDonald's -- and said he would fight for stronger antidiscrimination laws next year.

Yesterday, State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger announced that a grand jury had indicted 18-year-old Teonna Brown on a hate crime charge, adding to an assault charge she had already faced.

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Brown, whose attorney said she acted in self defense, is accused of beating Chrissy Lee Polis outside a bathroom at a McDonald's in Rosedale. A 15-year-old girl is charged as a juvenile. A restaurant employee recorded the attack on his cell phone camera, and it went viral on the Internet.

"As some have noted, out of this awful beating has come a moment to foster a deeper understanding and respect for the dignity of all persons," O'Malley said in a statement. "We should not allow the moment to pass without greater action."

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The Democratic governor pledged to work with the General Assembly next year to "provide even greater protections for transgendered people."

This year, the Senate blocked action on a bill that would have prevented landlords, creditors and employers from discriminating against transgender people. Some in the transgender community rebuffed the legislation because it did not go far enough; it did not include public accommodations protections.

Here's O'Malley's full statement:

"I want to commend Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger for using every available means to prosecute the heinous beating of Chrissy Lee Polis last month.

"Even with Maryland's 'hate crimes' law, it is clear that more must be done to protect the rights and dignity of transgendered people. In the struggle for justice and equality for all, I'm committed to working with the Maryland General Assembly during the next legislative session to increase awareness and provide even greater protections for transgendered people.

"As some have noted, out of this awful beating has come a moment to foster a deeper understanding and respect for the dignity of all persons. We should not allow the moment to pass without greater action."

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