Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) called Tuesday for greater protections for transgender people, citing a beating at a Baltimore County McDonald’s last month that received national attention.
“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.”
O’Malley’s statement came a day after the indictment of an 18-year-old woman for the attack on Chrissy Lee Polis, a transgender woman, in an apparent dispute over the use of a woman’s restroom.
Baltimore County prosecutors are seeking to convict the accused, Teonna Brown, of a hate crime in addition to other charges — a step O’Malley praised in his statement. A lawyer for Brown has suggested she was motivated by self-defense.
“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,” O’Malley said in the statement. “Even with Maryland’s ‘hate crimes’ law, it is clear that more must be done to protect the rights and dignity of transgendered people.”
O’Malley said he is committed to working with the General Assembly on the issue but provided no specifics as to what he might push. A spokesman said the governor is working with lawmakers and advocates for transgender people “to develop the best options.”
In the 90-day legislative session that ended last month, the House of Delegates passed a bill that would have provided greater anti-discrimination protections in the areas of housing, employment and lending. That bill died in the Senate, however.