Free CeCe, the girl who lived

Free CeCe, the girl who lived

CeCe McDonald is a transgender woman of colour, who survived a brutal assault by racist transphobes, which left her seriously injured and one of her attackers dead. She was yesterday (4th June 2012) sentenced to 41 months after being convicted of second degree manslaughter, which she is likely to serve in an all-male prison.

CeCe McDonald was in the wrong place at the wrong time - walking to her local grocery one night with her friends, when she was subject to racist and transphobic abuse from strangers outside a bar. As CeCe and her friends tried to verbally defend themselves, one of the attackers smashed a glass so hard into CeCe's face, her salivary gland was slashed, requiring stitches. As she ran from the scene, one of the men pursued her. She took scissors from her bag to scare him, but in the struggle, he was stabbed once and died from his injuries.

CeCe is not unusual as the target of hate crime. Facing sexism, racism, and transphobia all at once leaves transgender women of colour in the US at incredible risk of abuse.

When Paige Clay, a transgender woman of colour, was found shot in the head in a Chicago alleyway, her death did not make major headlines, and there have been no arrests.

Paige Clay

When Brandy Martell was shot dead in her car less than a fortnight later in Oakland, no arrests were made. Brandy was a transgender woman of colour and a peer advocate for transgender people.

Brandy Martell1

As Lesley at xojane.com2 writes,

Were a non-trans white woman found inexplicably shot in Chicago, or if a non-trans white woman were riddled with bullets in San Franscisco as she tried to escape, and both of their murderers were still at large, odds are good we would have heard about it. If a non-trans white woman defended herself from a group of drunken attackers threatening rape, she probably would not be in jail right now. Culturally, black women being murdered is not considered a story that is upsetting, or scary or outrageous; nor is a story about black women going to jail. Culturally, this is understood as just a thing that happens.

CeCe accepted a plea bargain, and has now been sentenced to 41 months in prison. Due to Minneapolis' laws on gender and prisons, CeCe is likely to spend her sentence in an all-male prison, where she will be extremely vulnerable to attack, and likely to spend a great amount of time in solitary confinement for her own "protection". CeCe has spent the last year incarcerated in an all-male facility as she awaited trial. Around 80 people attended the sentencing yesterday, and supporter Leslie Feinberg was arrested during a noise demonstration in support of CeCe that evening.

The CeCe McDonald Support Committee released an update in response to yesterday's sentencing, and will continue to support CeCe throughout her sentence.

There are various ways you can support CeCe right now. You can:

  • Donate to CeCe's support fund
  • Contact your local Anarchist Black Cross and ask them to take up CeCe's case
  • Write to CeCe, or even hold a letter writing party (details of a UK based initiative can be found here), if you're having a meeting or event, pass round a card to CeCe for people to sign. PLEASE NOTE CeCe's prison address has now been published, write to her at:

    Minnesota Correctional Facility-St. Cloud
    2305 Minnesota Boulevard S.E.
    St. Cloud, MN 56304

    For more info and guides on what CeCe is allowed to receive check the Support CeCe website

  • Email the Support Committee mpls4cece(a) to receive updates about CeCe's case
  • Repost articles and updates, or write your own, wherever you can!
  • Sign a petition for CeCe to be moved to a women's prison3

CeCe McDonald's blog can be read here.

  • 1. Photo: Tiffany Woods
  • 2. whom I've shamelessly stolen this headline from
  • 3. please note, this petition was set up independently of CeCe's support committee and has not been endorsed by them

Posted By

Jun 5 2012 17:59


Attached files


Jun 5 2012 21:35

There is a solidarity demonstration planned in London for 16th June, midday at the US embassy

Jun 5 2012 22:06

Thanks for this- she offed a nazi? what a girl! Let's try to keep her safe while she is in the nick. Keep her name fresh in peoples minds. I guess her biggest threat inside is from nazi prison gangs. Pressure on her captors is about all we can do to protect her.

Jun 5 2012 23:40

CeCe's prison address has now been published:

DOC website shows that CeCe has been admitted to St. Cloud. Her new OID # is: 238072

And, here is what we found out about sending mail to CeCe now:

"Inmate Mail Information
Incoming Offender Mail: With the exception of special/legal mail, incoming mail is opened and reviewed for the presence of unallowed items. Incoming mail must include the offender's commitment or department recognized legal name and Offender Identification (OID) number.

Incoming mail may include: paper with words/drawings; signed unmusical, commercial greeting cards and postcards; photographs (Polaroid photos must have the backing removed); periodicals and published materials shipped from the publisher; and clippings or photocopies of published materials that meet criteria.

Unallowed Mail: For safety and security purposes, the content of mail is regulated. Mail is denied that involves criminal activity; is identified as security threat group related; requests gifts or money from unrelated individuals, contain photos of staff, is coded material, contains unsanitary items such as hair, saliva, body secretions; certain sexually explicit situations including sexual intercourse, bodily excretory functions, sadism or bondage; personal photos displaying nudity by definition; and material advocating inferiority of an ethnic, racial or religious group."

Address for St.Cloud:
Minnesota Correctional Facility-St. Cloud
2305 Minnesota Boulevard S.E.
St. Cloud, MN 56304

Jun 8 2012 00:59
Jun 17 2012 08:03

She's being held in St. Cloud? I didn't know- I'll see what I can do to help organize something locally.

Jun 18 2012 21:03

Jasmine Malina spoke about Cece's case and violence against trans women today on KPFA's The Morning Mix radio show after the Free CeCe rally in Santa Rosa, California. It starts at 19:10 minutes.


Jun 21 2012 00:49

Some updates:

There's a Cece McDonald zine here which groups and/ or individuals may want to freely distribute.

Cece's own writings can be seen here.

Support groups have sprang up in Leeds (UK) and New York (USA) if anyone wishes to get involved.

Graffiti from Marais dist, Paris and a gay pride event in Athens, Greece respectively:

There were demonstrations in London and Paris, but as yet no photographs. x

Jun 23 2012 14:16
There were demonstrations in London and Paris, but as yet no photographs. x

Video of the London solidarity demonstration outside the US Embassy - 16th June

Photos from the CeCe McDonald solidarity rally in Paris - 16 June 2012

(there are more photographs if you just click on the link above)

Edit: There's an event being held at Wharf Chambers in Leeds on Thursday, 5 July. See further details here.

Why we should be fighting for Cece McDonald

Jun 26 2012 18:55

A support committee has been formed in Glasgow.

Jul 10 2012 17:57

Posted yesterday:


Dear CeCe Supporters,

Two of CeCe’s friends & community organizers got to see CeCe this weekend which was wonderful.

She is still in St. Cloud (a men’s facility). Although technically off of reception status she has not yet been formally placed. This means that she now has an approved visitor list of 24 people (before she could only have two visitors). She has her own cell in a general population unit. They finally gave her a bra and a t-shirt, as opposed to the oversized button-up shirt she was required to conceal herself with because the administration is afraid of her breasts.

She is fairing fine - that is, she is kicking ass and taking names. She easily gets along with the other prisoners; it’s the guards and administration that are fucking with her relentlessly - and they say it’s for her “safety” against the rest of the prison population. All of her issues thus far are with guards and admin trying to control and regulate her gender as if it is outlaw. We could say more here, but she is promising to send out blog entries to post so I’d prefer to let her tell it in her own words.

After three weeks of not receiving her hormone treatments (which are mandated by the court for her to receive, at the dosage level she was prescribed prior to intake), she finally got her first dose this week….but it was for 6 milligrams as opposed to the 20 milligrams that she is prescribed. This was like a slap in the face, and she has asked us to begin a call-in campaign to demand that her medical treatment be respected and accurately followed.

She is avidly reading, most recently a couple of books by Mumia Abu Jamal. She has a book wishlist on Amazon if you are interested in sending her books.

And of course, keep writing. She is catching up on replying to letters, now that she has pencil and paper. But she is still getting used to the regulations around sending mail (as well as many other rules), so please be patient about getting responses from her.

Keep checking her blog and her facebook, tumblr and twitter pages for updates.


Jul 10 2012 17:54
Demand that Chrishaun CeCe McDonald be administered the 20 milligrams of hormones that she is prescribed and allowed by court order!

CeCe is doing well in St. Cloud, even though she is putting up with a lot of harassment from guards and administration.

It took three weeks for her to begin receiving her hormones, and we learned yesterday that they are only giving her 6 milligrams instead of the 20 milligrams she is prescribed. This is egregious and insulting.

CeCe is asking her supporters to call-in to St. Cloud Health Services Director Cheri Meyer, MN DOC Health Director Nanette Larson and St. Cloud Psychological Services Director Bruce Hedge. Please CALL ALL THREE!

Demand that Chrishaun CeCe McDonald be administered the 20 milligrams of hormones that she is prescribed and allowed by court order!

Cheri Meyer (St. Cloud Health Services Director): (320)240-3077

Nanette Larson (MN DOC Health Services Director): (651)361-7280

Bruce Hedge (St. Cloud Psychological Services Director): (320)240-3030

Call today, call tomorrow, and leave messages. Fill their voicemail boxes and let them know that we are watching and that CeCe is not alone!

Please be firm but courteous when you call. Remember that prison administrators have enormous control over CeCe’s treatment, and antagonizing them could be harmful to CeCe.

Thank you for yr support of CeCe.


Jul 10 2012 22:35

If anyone is shy then here's a sample script that you can use:

"This message is for... My name is... , and I'm a friend of Chrishaun Cece McDonald.

I'm calling to request that CeCe receive the full 20 mg of hormones she has been prescribed and allowed by court order.

It's very important that she be permitted to continue her medical hormone treatment in full.

For her safety and wellbeing, please administer CeCe's full 20 milligram dosage ASAP.

For any questions, contact me at..."

Jul 11 2012 00:30
Cruel and Unusual (2006, 66 minutes) is an unflinching documentary on the lives of transgender women in men's prisons. Shot over three years, this high-definition documentary film challenges the viewer's basic ideas about gender and justice through braids of poignantly graphic stories, vibrant landscape portraits and stark prison footage.

Women such as Cece and those featured in this documentary are amazing, so fucking courageous!

TRIGGER WARNING—transphobia, racism, rape, sexual assault/ harassment, gruesome descriptions, self-harming... just about everything.

Part 1/ Part 2/ Part 3/ Part 4/ Part 5/ Part 6/ Part 7

Jul 11 2012 12:58
When someone hears their name called by a prison guard during mail call it can be a powerful reminder that people on the outside care about them, and it sends a message to guards and other inmates that this person has support and isn’t forgotten.

How to write your first letter to someone in prison

Jul 11 2012 19:36

Afaik, Cece still hasn't received her hormones so folks in the US please call (again)!


Jul 11 2012 19:47

Some ways you can help more generally:

- Write letters & send books to CeCe in prison to show her yr love.

- Write letters to the editor asking them to write responsible articles about CeCe's case. We NEED to keep her story in the news.

- Write yr own articles and blog post, post, re-post, forward, spread her story far and wide.

- Start a CeCe Support Committee in yr area!

- Organize a contingent in yr local PRIDE Parade to carry signs of support and hand out flyers telling folks about her case.

- Organize a fundraiser for CeCe. It cost a lot to survive in prison. She needs money for commissary, phone calls, writing materials and to fund trips for her family and supporters to visit her. She is also being forced to pay for her attackers funeral! Let's not let her start her new life in debt to the state.

- Donate to her. There's a link on her website

Jul 13 2012 22:46
Hello CeCe Supporters!

The Call-In campaign for CeCe to get her correct dosage of hormones was an incredible success! The prison's health administration were so "inconvenienced", they were compelled to clear the issue immediately.

CeCe is doing fine and looking fabulous. She is steadily devouring the books that everyone is sending - currently she is reading Angela Davis and is totally inspired.

She spoke a bit about the push from some supporters to launch large-scale campaigns to get Gov. Mark Dayton to pardon her, and/or to have her moved to a women's facility. She talked about how these campaigns would not only not benefit her, but how they exceptionalize her in a way that she doesn't want.

The pardoning process would not only be painful for her, but were she even to get considered, it wouldn't be until after she served her sentence. She thinks about people incarcerated for much longer terms than she, and for incredibly minor offenses (mostly drug related). Even if the emotional hardship of the process was something she felt up for, and even if the slim chance of it working actually succeeded, the outcome of her getting a pardon while others sat in prison is antithetical to her values and the whole reason she is struggling against this racist system in the first place.

As for being transfered to a women's facility, her thoughts are: Prison sucks. Period. CeCe is not safe in any prison, women's or men's. Prisons are not safe for anyone. Period. CeCe asserts (as do we) that incarcerated individuals should be able to decide for themselves where they would be safest within the system. For now, CeCe is fine being in a men's facility. For supporters to push for her to be transferred from one hell to another only serves the purpose of misdirecting energy away from the real problems of incarceration in america, and the problem of the Prison Industrial Complex as a whole.

To sum it up: CeCe does not want supporters to launch long-term campaigns on her behalf that exceptionalize her situation. Also importantly, these specific campaigns: a pardon from Gov. Dayton and getting transferred to a women's facility, wouldn't actually be beneficial to her at all. Short term campaigns such as call-ins to administration, and media blasts, are targeted efforts that let the DOC know that CeCe has widespread support, and it sends a message that we are watching them and will respond to prisoner's needs - CeCe's today, and other incarcerated transpeople tomorrow.

CeCe sends her love and gratitude to everyone who called-in on her behalf. She wishes that every wrongly incarcerated person had the same incredible support that she has, and prays for a world without bars, a world without cells.

Towards Justice,
CeCe Support Committee

First picture of CeCe from prison!

The Call-in worked, thank you Community!

Sep 9 2012 11:49
Sep 10 2012 07:24

That song is awesome.

Apr 7 2013 16:55