Cece McDonald, a black trans woman in Minnesota, has been in jail over a year for defending herself against a racist and homophobic attack. She is due to be sentenced early next month. The excerpt from the below article is an introduction to her story:
Cece McDonald is a 23 year old black trans woman who was out with friends one summer night in 2011 in Minneapolis, MN. As they passed in front of a bar, they were attacked by white people who were obviously racist and transphobic, based on a swastika tattoo and language used that night. The fight left Cece severely wounded by a glass to her face and one of the attackers dead.
The fight began when the white supremacists began yelling racial and transphobic slurs at the friends at about 12:20am. The attack became physical when one of the white supremacists put a gash in Cece’s face with a glass, damaging Cece’s saliva gland. It is believed by prosecutors that Cece then fatally stabbed one of her attackers.
Cece was charged with two counts of 2nd degree murder. Upon her arrest, Cece was denied adequate medical treatment for her wound, interrogated for hours, and put in solitary confinement. The woman who assaulted Cece was not arrested or charged.
Cece has recently taken a plea deal of 2nd degree manslaughter with a recommended sentence of 41 months. You read that right: she is being punished for almost three and a half years for defending her own life. Cece’s pre-trial phase was telling as to how the trial would have gone, including the judge letting in past criminal history (a bad check!) for Cece but not for certain witnesses for the prosecution, hedging on whether the swastika tattoo can be admitted into evidence, etc. Notably as well, the prosecutor, Michael Freeman, had recently dropped charges in similar cases where it was a case of self-defense but did not do so in this case. In court, Cece had to recount the events of her attack and listen to the judge tell her that by pulling the scissors out of her purse as her attacker chased her down unlawfully endangered her attacker.
The disparity in Cece’s case vs other similar self-defense cases is shocking at first glance, but less so when you look deeper into the ways the prison industrial complex operates to marginalize, stigmatize, harass, and vilify gender-non-conforming people. When trans women or trans men do not take an apologetic tone when confronted with racism or transphobia (or both), punishment is often excessive. Incidents can range from verbal abuse, to physical assault, to unequal protections afforded by people with the authority to offer it- including school administrators, police, medical professionals, human services professionals, security guards, supervisors, and others.
The next article comments on the disturbing commonality of the violence against transgender women of color, and the lack of coverage in the media, and suggests some ways you can help:
Transgender women of color are at the highest risk of hate-based violence of any group, unsurprising for a group of people surviving under three oppressive yokes — racism, sexism, and transphobia — all at the same time. According to a 2011 report, 70 percent of LGBT murder victims were people of color. 44 percent were specifically women of color.
Ways to help organise in your communities: http://transplantportation.com/2012/05/03/where-do-we-go-from-here-more-thoughts-on-cece-mcdonalds-case/
Petition Minnesota governor Mark Dayton to pardon CeCe McDonald. The petition currently only has a meagre 929 of 1,000 signatures, so please sign and forward to your networks.
Free CeCe McDonald!
Remember Paige Clay, Brandy Martell
and all other victims of racist and homophobic violence!