Free CeCe, the girl who lived!

Free CeCe McDonald
CeCe McDonald is a transgender woman of colour, who survived a brutal assault by racist transphobes, which left her seriously injured and one of her attackers dead. She was yesterday (4th June 2012) sentenced to 41 months after being convicted of second degree manslaughter, which she is likely to serve in an all-male prison.

CeCe McDonald was in the wrong place at the wrong time – walking to her local grocery one night with her friends, when she was subject to racist and transphobic abuse from strangers outside a bar. As CeCe and her friends tried to verbally defend themselves, one of the attackers smashed a glass so hard into CeCe’s face, her salivary gland was slashed, requiring stitches. As she ran from the scene, one of the men pursued her. She took scissors from her bag to scare him, but in the struggle, he was stabbed once and died from his injuries.

CeCe is not unusual as the target of hate crime. Facing sexism, racism, and transphobia all at once leaves transgender women of colour in the US at incredible risk of abuse.

When Paige Clay, a transgender woman of colour, was found shot in the head in a Chicago alleyway, her death did not make major headlines, and there have been no arrests.

Paige Clay

Paige Clay

When Brandy Martell was shot dead in her car less than a fortnight later in Oakland, no arrests were made. Brandy was a transgender woman of colour and a peer advocate for transgender people.

Brandy Martell (photo: Tiffany Woods)

Brandy Martell (photo: Tiffany Woods)

As Lesley at (who I stole this headline from) writes,


Were a non-trans white woman found inexplicably shot in Chicago, or if a non-trans white woman were riddled with bullets in San Franscisco as she tried to escape, and both of their murderers were still at large, odds are good we would have heard about it. If a non-trans white woman defended herself from a group of drunken attackers threatening rape, she probably would not be in jail right now. Culturally, black women being murdered is not considered a story that is upsetting, or scary or outrageous; nor is a story about black women going to jail. Culturally, this is understood as just a thing that happens.

CeCe accepted a plea bargain, and has now been sentenced to 41 months in prison. Due to Minneapolis’ laws on gender and prisons, CeCe is likely to spend her sentence in an all-male prison, where she will be extremely vulnerable to attack, and likely to spend a great amount of time in solitary confinement for her own “protection”. CeCe has spent the last year incarcerated in an all-male facility as she awaited trial. Around 80 people attended the sentencing yesterday, and supporter Leslie Feinberg was arrested during a noise demonstration in support of CeCe that evening.

The CeCe McDonald Support Committee released an update in response to yesterday’s sentencing, and will continue to support CeCe throughout her sentence.

There are various ways you can support CeCe right now. You can:

  • Sign a petition for CeCe to be moved to a women’s prison
  • Donate to CeCe’s support fund
  • Contact your local Anarchist Black Cross and ask them to take up CeCe’s case
  • Write to CeCe, or even hold a letter writing party (details of a UK based initiative can be found here), if you’re having a meeting or event, pass round a card to CeCe for people to sign. PLEASE NOTE CeCe’s prison address has not yet been confirmed, but I’ll add it once it has, and keep an eye on the Support CeCe website
  • Email the Support Committee mpls4cece(a) to receive updates about CeCe’s case
  • Repost articles and updates, or write your own, wherever you can!

CeCe McDonald’s blog can be read here.