In 2012, CeCe McDonald was sentenced to 41 months in prison for self-defense during a racist and transphobic attack in Minneapolis in 2011.
Around midnight on June 5, 2011, a 23-year-old African American transgender woman named Crishaun “CeCe” McDonald was walking with four friends past Schooner Tavern in Minneapolis. A group of at least four white people outside the bar began harassing McDonald and her friends, calling the group, all of whom were African American, “niggers” and “faggots.” One of the men in the group, who would later be identified as Dean Schmitz, said “look at that boy dressed like a girl tucking her dick in.” As McDonald and her friends tried to walk away, Schmitz’s ex-girlfriend Molly Flaherty hit McDonald in the face with a glass of alcohol and sliced open her cheek, causing an injury that would later require stitches. The groups began fighting, and when McDonald attempted to leave the scene, Schmitz followed. McDonald took a pair of scissors out of her purse and turned around to face Schmitz; he was stabbed in the chest and died from the wound. Though she was injured in the scuffle with Flaherty and claimed the wound inflicted on Schmitz was in self-defense, McDonald was arrested that night and then charged with second-degree intentional murder.
The two then began their working with director Jacqueline Gares on FREE CeCe!, a forthcoming documentary film that explores CeCe’s incarceration, release, and life after prison as an advocate and prison abolitionist.
It includes interviews and appearances by trans activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, activist, professor and author Angela Davis, and author, trans activist and TV host Janet Mock. Watch the sample edit below.
Planned for release in 2016, the feature also confronts the epidemic of daily violence that transgender women of color face.
While transgender people make up about 10% of the LGBT community, they account for over half of anti-LGBT homicides.
As of March 2015, there were a record 14 reported homicides of LGBT people in the U.S. alone, according to advocacy group Anti-Violence Project, seven of which were trans women of color.
“We can’t just sensationalize our issues and fantasize that things will get better,” CeCe stated while accepting National LGBTQ Task Force‘s Youth Leadership Award earlier this year. “We can’t just sit on our asses and pretend that everything is okay because some of us have spotlight when there are still women to this day being murdered in this country.”
Now in post-production after a successful Indiegogo Campaign raised over $57,000 last year, FREE CeCe! needs an additional $35,000 to hire editors and musicians, purchase equipment, develop graphics, and deliver a rough cut by Fall 2015. You can contribute at indiegogo.com.