CeCe McDonald, who is currently imprisoned for second-degree manslaughter, is scheduled to be released on January 13, 2014, after serving almost half of her 41 month sentence at a men’s correctional facility.
McDonald’s claim has always been self defense, holding that she defended herself with a pair of scissors during an altercation where bar partons verbally abused her with racist and transphobic language, and injured her with glass thrown at her face. The altercation resulted in the death of Dean Schmitz, who took a fatal stab wound to the chest.
Prosecution in her case characterized her actions to be criminal in nature. However, McDonald has also received support, labeling her as the victim and concluding that her actions during the incident should not have resulted in incarceration. Minneapolis City Councilman, Cam Gordon, stated that the incident was "another example of transgender women of color being targeted for hate and bias-related violence."
In her personal blog in May, 2013, McDonald wrote:
Currently, I am in a men’s state prison for the death of someone I accidentally stabbed in the act of defending myself. It all started around 12 am on June 4th, 2011 when a group of racist drunks began to verbally bash my friends and I on our way to a local 24-hour grocery store. After being called everything from faggots to niggers, tempers escalated and I was caught in between the madness. A woman from the other group decided to throw her alcoholic cocktail in my face, and to add insult to injury, she smashed her glass cup in my face which lacerated my cheek and was deep enough to cut a saliva gland which caused painful complications later on after getting 12 stitches. When the police arrived it wasn’t hard to for them to assume who the aggressors were — surely, for them, it had to have been the group of black kids who started all this drama. At least that was the feeling I was receiving by the way they were treating me and my friends. And instead of taking me directly to the ambulance, they made me sit in the back of a squad car in handcuffs while bleeding badly and in very bad pain.
Laverne Cox, an African-American transgender woman and actress on Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, is currently producing a documentary about McDonald’s life, titled Free CeCe! Slated to be released this year, the film will cover Cox's interview with McDonald during her incarceration and detail the events leading up to the incident, as well as her experience in a men’s prison.
Fans of Orange Is the New Black will be able to contrast Cox’s character, Sophia Burset, a transgender inmate in a women’s prison, to that of McDonald, who like a large number of transgender women, are forced to serve in a men’s facility, often being subjected to assault and battery, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.