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I avoid labels when possible, but here goes: SWF, 40'ish, 20 year Navy veteran. I have an inner ham and her name is Ms. Piggy.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

RE: The Baltimore McDonalds incident.

In viewing the horrific video showing a vicious attack upon a transgender woman in a Baltimore Maryland McDonalds, I cannot help thinking of a similarly senseless incident at yet another McDonalds'; the San Ysidro massacre of July 18, 1984. I was in my second year of U.S. Navy enlistment, stationed in San Diego at the time, so the incident is still well established in my memory.

I am also reminded of the experiences of another young transperson, Zikerria Bellamy, who was 17 on July 10, 2009 when she applied for a job at a Florida McDonalds. You can see the TLDEF response to this incident here:


Corporately, McDonalds has seemingly maintained a campaign of purposeful ignorance towards transpeople's plight in their restaurants as both employees and customers for a very long time. I have not done my homework on the outcome of Zikerria Bellamy's case, but I do know that it seemingly vanished from the radar very quickly.

There are a lot of questions in the Baltimore incident yet to be answered, but for once I think McDonalds corporate is finally getting a wakeup call. Certainly, nothing here is meant to say anyone should stop the pressure being put upon them.

Many people right now are suggesting angry boycotts, and even legal actions against McDonalds. Certainly, the employees who sat around watching and filming the incident without helping should be found culpable, and the animals who attacked her should face prosecution. But in attacking and demanding legal suits against McDonald's corporate, I would suggest one look at the legal results of the San Ysidro incident, here:


With McDonalds as defendant, they were absolved of responsibility because "(1) they had no duty of care to protect patrons from an unforeseeable assault by a murderous madman; and (2) plaintiffs could not prove causation because the standard reasonable measures normally used by restaurants to deter criminals", "could not possibly have deterred a madman who did not care about his own survival. "

The corporate identity that is McDonalds is not ignorant to social needs that further it's bottom line. Keeping in mind the WIIFM concept (What's In It For Me), McDonalds has indeed responded to racism and prejudice in the past with affirmative actions programs that have helped minorities acquire franchise and management opportunities, while also changing their advertising, slogans, and promotions to reflect both their customer base and their appreciation for diversity.

Rather than shaking our fists and demanding angry but temporary concessions from McDonald's corporate that will eventually fade away and be forgotten, lets instead take better advantage of this brief moment their corporate focus is paying us attention. Let's provide McDonalds with a more positive opportunity to promote their attention to diversity, and work with them for things that will make for a more lasting sea-change in their (and their customer's) attitude towards transgender folk, while enhancing their bottom line.

I can think of no better result from this incident than the assault victim receiving every reasonable opportunity to become a franchisee themselves, while McDonalds also categorically integrates transgender persons specifically into their affirmative action programs.