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Baltimore Teens Charged in Transgender Beating

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on May 31, 2011 6:47 AM

Two teens have been indicted by a jury in Baltimore for hate crimes and assault. The accused allegedly beat Chrissy Lee Polis, 22, in a transgender hate crime in April that made national headlines.

Polis says that Polis was targeted by the two teens, Teonna Brown, 18, and a 14-year-old minor, because she is a transgender.

The entire incident was captured on a cell phone video camera, and the footage was posted online. The camera caught around 3 minutes of the assault against Polis, reports WMAR-TV.

The incident occurred inside a local McDonald's restaurant. An employee was the one who videotaped the incident, and several other employees can be heard laughing in the video. Only one employee tried to intervene in the assault. The employee who videotaped the incident was fired, according to WJZ-TV.

Brown's attorneys have alleged that she was defending herself, and maintains her innocence, reports WJZ-TV. Brown has been charged with assault as well as the hate crime. The 14-year-old minor faces similar charges in juvenile court.

Brown could be facing up to 25 years in jail for the assault. The hate crime could add an additional 10 years to her sentence, if convicted, reports WMAR-TV.

A Hate crime is usually a crime that is charged in addition to another criminal offense. In the two teens' case, the have been charged with both an assault and a hate crime, two separate criminal charges.

Hate crimes are essentially crimes where the perpetrator was instigated by the purpose to hurt or intimidate someone because of the victim's race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation or disability status. Transgendered individuals are often the target of unnecessary violence that is motivated only because of their gender identity. About 1 in 1,000 homicides in the U.S. comes from a hate crime against a transgender.

The Baltimore hate crime has brought more awareness to the growing - and unsettling - trend of transgender hate crime in the U.S.

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