CeCe McDonald is a young African American trans woman. Last year, she and some friends walked past a bar, and two cis white women and one cis white man began to hurl abuse at her. They used racist language. They told CeCe she was “dressed as a woman” to “rape”. One of the aggressors smashed a glass into CeCe’s face, causing serious facial injuries. A fight broke out, involving more people than just CeCe. What happened is not clear, but the white male aggressor was fatally stabbed.
CeCe was arrested, spending much of the last year in solitary confinement in a men’s prison “for her safety”. She was repeatedly misgendered by the media.
Two days ago, CeCe was sentenced. Under pressure, she pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. She has been sentenced to 41 months, which she will have to serve in a men’s prison.
CeCe’s case lays bare some of the pervasive prejudices which permeate USian society. This bright young woman’s gender is accepted by neither the legal system nor by her aggressors. The abuse she received on basis of her gender is the same old tired shit that needs to die: the myth that trans people are disguising themselves as women to rape is perpetuated by right-wing zealots and radical feminists alike. It’s all just unacceptable bigotry. Likewise, the legal system have given CeCe two options: to serve out her sentence alone in solitary confinement, or to live at risk as a woman in a men’s prison. These are not choices.
The colour of CeCe’s skin plays a role. In the USian prison system, people of colour are disproportionately represented. The abuse CeCe received at the hands of her attackers and the legal system alike is related to her race. That she ended up pleaing guilty to a lesser offence for a shorter sentence is hardly surprising: this is all part of a coercive “justice” system.
In all this, though, we must remember that CeCe McDonald is not a political symbol, a synecdoche of a corrupt system. CeCe McDonald is a person who is suffering, and there are things that we can do to help her. Forty Shades of Grey is organising two letter writing campaigns: one to write to CeCe to let her know that she is not alone in the world, and one to the bastards who put her in prison. Please read her post and follow the links. Please support CeCe McDonald.