Issue 12.1-12.2 | Fall 2013/Spring 2014 / Guest edited by Janet R. Jakobsen and Catherine Sameh

A Portrait of CeCe McDonald

portrait of CeCe McDonald by Molly Crabapple

Portrait of CeCe McDonald by Molly Crabapple

Editor’s Note: In 2011, CeCe McDonald was a fashion design student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College when while walking to a grocery store, she and her friends were attacked by a group of white people shouting racist and transphobic slurs. When CeCe fatally stabbed one of their attackers in self defense, she was arrested and eventually imprisoned for 19 months. As she awaited trial and experienced incarceration, the Transgender Youth Support Network in Minnesota created the Free CeCe campaign, inspiring an international community of activists to support CeCe and rally for her freedom. Throughout, CeCe updated community members with her evocative and thoughtful writing on police brutality, transphobia, homophobia, racism, and the power of love against systems of injustice. Excerpts from CeCe’s blog are reprinted with permission here:

From Violence Against (Trans)Women Today (May 12, 2013):

How can society say that it detest and challenge violence against women, when there is very little, if any, real help for us, and the help we give ourselves result in punishment? …

We will not give up until there are the necessary changes in this world for better protection and equality. And it is up to us to show that we are concerned and that none of our struggles will go in vain.

From May 11: “Go beyond our natural selves” (May 11, 2012):

One thing I’ve learned, which was brought to my attention from a close friend, was that throughout this case, from the beginning to end, all of us have played a part in this “mirroring effect,” where we see each other as we saw ourselves, giving to each as we would, or have wanted to, for ourselves. And in each of us was that struggle, and that was also seen, so like we would have tried for ourselves we uplifted and encouraged each other to go beyond our natural selves and to have the faith to move mountains. And know that every day I look in the mirror, not only do I see myself, but I see all of our beautiful spirits together with one voice in a continuing struggle against hate and oppression, where we speak of love and TRUE FREEDOM. I want everyone to know they had a part in my evolution, whether it was a visit or a letter in the mail. Just know it made a difference in my life. And just as you did for me, I hope that I did the same for you.

From On Trans Day of Remembrance: A Proposal (November 16, 2012):

I would have rather been punished for asserting myself than become another victim of hatred. No, I’m not saying violence is key or all people should react the way I did, but our communities, whether here or abroad, have become the victim of malicious and hateful crimes. We need to start now. Make your voices heard. Reach out to the lawmakers, hell get it to the president if we have to. But we need to stop and work from inside out. We need to find strong leaders who can handle the pressures of being just that. Also we need to stop “throwing so much shade” to each other. All that anger that we direct towards each other should be directed at its true source, the people who treat us badly. The politicians who act like we don’t exist and don’t focus on the rights and safety of the LGBTQI people, especially (trans)women.