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Task Force sends letter to McDonald’s following attack on transgender woman

April 27, 2011

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey this week sent a letter to James Skinner, McDonald’s CEO, deploring the recent attack on Chrissy Lee Polis, a transgender woman, at a McDonald’s in Maryland. Carey called upon the company to take several steps to provide a safe environment to all customers, including transgender and gender non-conforming people. She urged “that McDonald’s corporate leadership become much more actively involved in efforts to ensure that such an attack never occur again at one of your stores.”

The Task Force also provided several recommendations to McDonald’s leadership in order to make the company’s food outlets more secure for transgender and gender non-conforming people:

  1. Become familiar with the lives of transgender people, if you are not already educated. Please read and distribute to your corporate leadership, your franchise owners and your 1.7 million employees our report: Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey
  2. Take immediate steps to train and instruct your corporate leadership, your franchise owners and your 1.7 million employees in the many and myriad ways they can make McDonald’s a welcoming place for everyone, including transgender customers.
  3. In particular, ensure that your corporate leadership, your franchise owners and your 1.7 million employees feel a sense of shared responsibility for the safety of each and every one of your millions and millions of customers, no matter how they look and no matter what your corporate leadership, your franchise owners and your 1.7 million employees may think of them in the privacy of their own minds.  As you know, customer service demands that we each extend to every person with whom we relate and interact the fundamental benefits of human dignity.
  4. Engage with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force as a partner in a corporate responsibility program to ensure that your corporate leadership, your franchise owners and your 1.7 million employees are educated about the lives of transgender customers.

Earlier this spring, Lisa Mottet, director of the Task Force’s Transgender Civil Rights Project, testified in favor of statewide transgender rights legislation in Maryland. She shared data from our recently released groundbreaking report Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, which found discrimination and harassment to be pervasive nationwide.

The study found that in Maryland specifically, transgender and gender non-conforming people were being fired, harassed, passed over for promotion and not hired simply for being who they are. This was not a small problem: 71 percent said they experienced harassment or mistreatment on the job and 18 percent reported losing their job just because of who they are. Likely due to this discrimination, transgender Marylanders experienced poverty (making under $10,000 per year) nearly three times the national average; 12 percent reported experiencing homelessness; 17 percent said they were denied a home/apartment due to being transgender; and 22 percent reported having to find temporary spaces to stay in an attempt to avoid homelessness.

Read the full letter to McDonald’s here.

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