The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs ( NCAVP ) celebrates the release of CeCe McDonald from prison, a young African American transgender woman violently attacked by a group of people in a racist and transphobic hate violence incident in June 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Despite being the survivor of this incident of violence, CeCe McDonald was the only person arrested. She was charged, prosecuted and unjustly convicted and imprisoned, despite overwhelming evidence that she was defending herself from a transphobic attack. None of her attackers were charged. In the Spring of 2012, NCAVP monitored Ms. McDonald's case and in coalition with allied organizations called for the second degree murder charges against her to be dropped. NCAVP stands in solidarity with Ms. McDonald and her supporters in celebrating the end of her unjust incarceration.
"CeCe McDonald is a living exhibition in resilience, beauty and power. She is also a living example of injustice in our culture," said writer and advocate Janet Mock. "When a woman is attacked for merely being herself and sent to prison for daring to survive, we send a message that some lives matter more than others. CeCe McDonald — and our sisters and siblings who continue fighting back — remind us daily that our lives are worth fighting for, and that most of all, we matter."
"It is fantastic news that Cece McDonald is being release from prison," said Rebecca Waggoner, Anti-Violence Program Director for OutFront Minnesota and NCAVP 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 McDonald's experience is all too common. Transgender women of color face severe and deadly hate violence, including bias and violence from law enforcement, in the United States. In 2013, NCAVP responded to 14 homicides of transgender women nationally, 93% of whom were people of color. NCAVP's most recent Hate Violence Report documented 25 homicides of LGBTQ people in 2012. 53.8% of total homicide victims were transgender women and 73.1% were people of color. The report also found that transgender people of color and transgender women are almost three times as likely to experience police violence.
Last week we learned that Jewelyes Gutierrez, a 16-year-old transgender student who defended herself against a group of bullies at Hercules High School in Martinez, California on November 15th 2013, is the sole person charged in the altercation. NCAVP is deeply concerned about the singling out for prosecution of Gutierrez in this instance, as we were with the singling out of CeCe McDonald.
In a society where violence against transgender people is all too often condoned, ignored, and unsolved, CeCe McDonald's release is a rare victory against transphobic institutional violence. This is an opportunity for all of us to examine where the system failed a transgender woman of color by incarcerating her for defending herself and the impact that transphobic and racist violence has on transgender women of color. McDonald's story of survival is inspiring in a culture where all too often, transgender women of color experience pervasive, deadly violence.
In recognition of CeCe McDonald and all survivors, NCAVP is committed to uplifting stories of survival and continuing to work to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence within and against the LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities. CeCe McDonald's survival and release are a victory for LGBTQ communities everywhere.
Support CeCe McDonald: To find out how to support the efforts of CeCe Mcdonald's support committee, visit supportcece.wordpress.com, or freececemcdonald.tumblr.com
Report Violence: NCAVP encourages anyone who has experienced violence to contact a local anti-violence program. For help locating an anti-violence program in your area, please contact us.
Get involved: Join NCAVP in our efforts to prevent and respond to LGBTQ and HIV-affected violence. NCAVP's efforts include policy advocacy, education, data analysis, and technical assistance. Contact us to learn more.
NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs, affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.