CeCe McDonald, who served two and a half years in prison for killing a man in an act of self-defense, has been released from prison. CeCe first received national attention after she was charged with the death of her attacker, Dean Schmitz, a white cisgender man. The attack took place in June 2011 near a local bar in Minneapolis. Several reports note that the attackers taunted McDonald and her friends with homophobic, transphobic and racist slurs, and one of the attackers threw glass at McDonald's face, resulting in a gash through her cheek. During the attack, Schmitz was stabbed with a pair of scissors and died.
Despite the urging of McDonald's supporters, as well as local and state government officials, she was tried and eventually took a plea deal for a lesser charge. McDonald was sentenced to 41 months in prison in May 2012, and had been housed in a men's prison facility.
"It is fantastic news that Cece McDonald is being release from prison," said Rebecca Waggoner, Anti-Violence Program Director for OutFront Minnesota and NCAVP (National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs) member program. "As this case highlights and as we know from our own work, transgender women of color continue to be disproportionately impacted by violence. OutFront Minnesota's Anti-Violence Program is deeply committed to work to eradicate all of forms of hate violence experienced by our communities."
"Cece is one of the brave voices of our generation. She stood up to and defended herself against racism and transphobia only to be sent to prison for it. Her case cast a national spotlight and sparked long overdue conversations about the disproportionately unfair treatment of transgender women within the criminal justice system," said Tiq Milan, Senior Media Strategist. "Her imprisonment was unjust, and we continue to stand with her as she moves forward from this heartbreaking journey."
Transgender women of color are one of the most vulnerable populations across the globe facing extreme and severe hate violence. In 2013, there were 16 transgender women murdered in the U.S. All but one were African-American. NCAVP's most recent Hate Violence Report documented that about 54% of all LGBT homicides were transgender women and 73% were people of color. Transwomen are also three times more likely to experience violence at the hands of the police.
Orange is the New Black Star and trangender advocate Laverne Cox, will be producing a documentary called Free CeCe about her experience and how race, gender and class played a part in the outcome.