Transphobia at the golden arches

May 5, 2011

I APPRECIATE Christine Darosa's coverage of the terrible assault against Chrissy Polis at a Baltimore McDonald's ("The bigotry behind a terrible assault"). I was outraged that a McDonald's employee would film the attack and encourage the assailants to flee, rather than coming to the aid of Polis.

McDonald's claim that "there's no room for violence under the Golden Arches" rings hollow, as does the rest of their statement: "McDonald's is a safe welcoming place for everyone. We share our customers' concern. We are doing everything possible to make sure the right thing is done."

McDonald's had plenty of warning that transphobia was a problem at their company and, judging by the actions of the employees in their Baltimore store, and by the fact that the word "transgender" does not turn up on their website, it is clear that they have not done "everything possible" to address the issue.

In December of 2009, a McDonald's manager in Orlando, Fla., left a telephone message for 17-year-old transgender job seeker Zikerria Bellamy telling her not to bother applying for a job at McDonald's because "we do not hire faggots."

After widespread outcry from the LGBT and activist community, McDonald's fired the manager in question.

Similarly, the company claims that in response to the attack at the Baltimore restaurant, its "franchisee continues to investigate the behavior and response of his employees," and that "appropriate action is taking place as warranted."

It's not enough to wait for incidents like these to occur, and then deal with them on a case-by-case basis only after there is bad publicity for the company. McDonald's still does not have a policy prohibiting discrimination against employees based on gender identity or expression.

Until they take the first step of banning discrimination against transgender employees and applicants, as well as training managers and employees on the need to oppose transphobia and hate crimes, McDonald's should be condemned for failing to take these issues seriously, despite two serious incidents involving their company in less than 18 months.
Gary Lapon, Northampton, Mass.

Further Reading

From the archives