Spending the afternoon with the one and only CeCe McDonald, my sister and living inspiration.
Support her documentary “Free CeCe” https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/free-cece-documentary/x/6227341
By Lexi Adsit
I’ll be honest, I didn’t consistently follow CeCe McDonald’s story or read her blog. Mostly because incarceration is a huge fear of mine and I’ve heard so many negative experiences of incarceration for transgender women of color, I prayed CeCe would not share that same experience. It breaks my heart to hear negative experiences of any transgender woman of color because I often feel absolutely helpless to be able to do anything about it and that these negative experiences are so commonplace. I also recognize the structural oppression that plays such a large role in conducting violence within our lives. Resisting and fighting structural violence often feels like boxing a ghost who doesn’t have any rules to follow.
As I look back on this experience, I wished I had taken time to write a letter and thank her for her strength, courage, and inspiration to do what she had done: Stand up for herself, her friends, and transgender women of color everywhere. Resisting the violent forces that aspire to obliterate us from existence. CeCe McDonald is a warrior princess of our community for choosing to survive and resist the way she did.
As a 23 year old trans* Latina I have a community of transgender women of color and I care deeply for all of them. We’ve experienced these same issues of having slurs thrown our way and violent threats made on our lives. However, we often aren’t brave enough to do what CeCe did, stand up and say ‘no’. Personally, I’ve heard of a handful of trans women of color surviving violence like this and often being incarcerated after standing up for themselves in a violent fashion. Janet Mock, reminded me during a breakfast date that issues that transgender women of color were facing in the 1970s and 80s are still an issue today. The murder, incarceration and lack of support for transgender women of color has been abysmal.
Janet Mock writes to CeCe McDonald, thanking the fierce trans woman of color for teaching her what resilience looks like. #BecauseofCeCe
Janet Mock delivers a keynote speech at the 2012 USC Lavender Celebration, discussing the disparities facing black transgender women and the Free CeCe movement.
CeCe McDonald and other resistant trans women of color hold me accountable daily in my work. In 2012, I wrote about Cece and Trayvon Martin, making a link between their cases and the media’s (lack of) response. Both broke my heart, made me stand up, raise my political consciousness and sharpen my intersectional lens.
CeCe McDonald, in her new piece called, "Violence Against (Trans) Women Today" in which she discusses street harassment and violence and her being criminilized because she dared to defend herself.
You are so loved, CeCe. Thank you for your leadership.
Last month, I wrote to many of you because you had contacted our office about our handling of the Chrishaun McDonald case. I want to update you now on significant actions around that case.
Recently, the Washington County Attorney’s Office charged Molly Shannon Flaherty with one count of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon and one count of third-degree assault-substantial bodily harm for attacking Ms. McDonald on June 5, 2011 outside the Schooner bar.
As I mentioned several times during the months leading up to Ms. McDonald’s trial, we immediately sent the case to Washington County because it would have been a conflict of interest if we had charged the case against Ms. Flaherty at the same time we had charged the homicide case against Ms. McDonald. Washington County Attorney Peter Orput stated after the charges were filed May 11 that he would have filed the charges last summer, but he needed to talk to Ms. McDonald and get her medical records. Ms. McDonald’s lawyers were afraid that information could be used against her in the murder case and advised her not to cooperate with Mr. Orput, a position both we and Mr. Orput understand and respect. It is my understanding that Ms. McDonald’s attorneys no longer have this concern and Ms. McDonald is helping put together a strong case against Ms. Flaherty.
As you probably know, we entered into a plea agreement with Ms. McDonald that dropped the charge from second-degree murder to second-degree manslaughter in the stabbing death of an unarmed victim. Instead of facing a possible sentence of 27 years in prison if convicted, Ms. McDonald will be sentenced to 41 months, and with time served and good behavior, she should be released in just over two years. We agreed to this negotiated resolution because we thought it served justice for the family of the stabbing victim, but also was appropriate for Ms. McDonald.
I want to reiterate, our role as prosecutors is to examine the facts provided by police investigators and determine if there is sufficient admissible evidence to bring a charge. It is our mission to serve justice and public safety. Gender, race, sexual orientation and class are not part of the decision-making process. That is how we handled Ms. McDonald’s case from beginning to end. That is how we try to serve in every case we review. We cannot, and do not, let popular opinion determine how we handle cases.
However, it is important that we fully serve all members of our community and, therefore, we do listen to the comments and concerns about the justice system. We understand that some in the LGBTQ community may continue to disagree with the way we handled the McDonald case and that is their right. However, I renew my pledge to continue to work with all our residents to make this office receptive to your concerns. We know Hennepin County has a large LGBTQ community and it is our duty to make sure your voice is heard so that safety and justice is achieved for all.