Monday, August 15, 2011


The two people who beat Chrissy Polis in a Baltimore McDonalds have now both pleaded guilty. The older one pleaded guilty to a hate crime as well.

So- Justice will be done. She has yet to be sentenced, but, as the man said “all good things in all good time.”

That man- Jerry Garcia, has been dead now these sixteen years. In San Francisco, they celebrate the dates between his birth in death (August 1 and August 9, respectively) as the “Days Between.” The city celebrates a musician- so great was his impact to them, and to people all over the world. (Jerry played guitar and sang for the Grateful Dead and the Jerry Garcia Band, if you didn’t know. The song I reference is from the JGB song “Run for the Roses.”)

So what does this have to do with the Baltimore beating?

When the beating happened, so many TG people were outraged, and most not a little scared. After all, we have been beaten and even murdered with alarming frequency. In fact, it seemed to be a fact of life for us. We almost expect it. Trans- Russian roulette. Who will lose this week?

But with that beating, something happened- something that Vernon Hackett surely didn’t intend. (He’s the guy who, instead of helping, videotaped the beating and was the one heard encouraging the women to “beat its ass”) People were outraged- and not just trans-people. They were outraged by the savagery of the beating. This guy brought trans-hate out of page 17 of the newspaper and put it into their living rooms, their dens, or wherever their computers sat.

The video made it real.

Now of course, some people just saw it as another episode of Extreme Fighting, and others saw it as “some pervert getting his just desserts” but many- enough- saw it for what it was.


And they rallied. And they listened. They brought us hope.


Which is what Jerry brought many people as well. He sang songs of the downtrodden and of redemption (also sang songs of drugs and other things too, but stay on point.) He sang of hope, and for many people he was all we had. For many years, he was like a comforting friend to me. Yes, I know he sang words that others wrote, but he co-wrote most of the songs. The idea that he was out there, somewhere, singing, brought me comfort. Then he was gone. “Nothing’s gonna bring him back.”

But I still have his music, and that helped.

The night I first went out dressed, I played Grateful Dead cds in my car. The music helped steady my nerves as I prepared to leave my car while in a skirt, knowing deep down that I was crossing a line that couldn’t be undone. And on my way for my first makeover, it was the Grateful Dead that played to give me courage- the courage to continue this path. And many times since, even now that I have more confidence as a woman, I still listen to the music to give me Hope. Hope that I will be who I am destined to be, whoever that is.

The people who assaulted Chrissy Polis are paying for their crimes. Perhaps something good will come of this. Perhaps something already has. Maybe enough eyes have been opened that someday we can be who we were born to be without worrying about our safety. You know: life, liberty and pursuit of happiness and all that.

There’s always hope.

And for many of us, when hope seems lost, we have the music.

1 comment:

  1. An appalling event, that's for sure.
    One of the things that bothers me the most was one part of my own early reaction to the video - "why did she do NOTHING to defend herself?"