Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald admitted that an inner rage brewed long before an exchange of words that ended with the deadly stabbing of Dean Schmitz outside a bar in south Minneapolis last year.
The pressures of being transgendered — namely, fear of rejection and of hostile reactions from others — resulted in spite and hatefulness, said McDonald, who is transitioning from a man to a woman.
That pent-up anger exploded during an argument when McDonald stabbed Dean Schmitz, 47, killing him instantly.
But CeCe McDonald, 24, who on Monday was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison, said the responsibility for what happened is mutual.
“I’m sure that to Dean’s family, he was a loving, caring person,” McDonald told Judge Daniel Moreno. “But that is not what I saw that night. I saw a racist, transphobic, narcissistic bigot who did not have any regard for my friends and I.”
McDonald, a black transgendered woman, and her friends, were verbally and physically assaulted outside a local bar by Schmitz and 2 women. According to firsthand accounts, the altercation escalated when CeCe McDonald stood her ground, calling them out for their hate speech, and one of the women struck McDonald with a cocktail glass, cutting her cheek. That’s when things became physical, and during the course of the fight Dean Schmitz was fatally stabbed.
Now the judge in CeCe McDonald’s case has determined that she will serve what’s left of her sentence in a men’s correctional facility. Though McDonald has already served 366 days in a male facility, she was kept in solitary confinement. Authorities say this has been done “for her own protection.”
When McDonald is moved, however, there may not be any such separation from the rest of the prison populace. And what could happen to her there is all but unimaginable.
According to a February report by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, as reported by The Minnesota Independent newspaper – 37% of transgender inmates surveyed reported harassment by correctional officers, while only 35% reported harassment by fellow inmates. 16% reported physical assaults, and 15% reported sexual assaults while in a prison or a jail.
In a piece written last year for the Baltimore Sun, Reginald Dwayne Betts discussed the pervasiveness of prison rape, regardless of sexual orientation:
For as long as the history of prisons in America, there has been rape in prisons in America. We turn away from it in part because our penitentiaries are the last remnants of Darwinian survival of the fittest, played out on a day-to-day basis. And it is difficult to feel compassion for criminals. This is why prison movies like “Blood in Blood Out,” “American Me” and “Shawshank Redemption” feature graphic rapes and yet did not lead to any public outcries about prison conditions.
Following the state’s decision to house CeCe McDonald in a men’s facility, Corrections Department spokeswoman Sarah Russell reportedly issued the following statement, “Eventually, the state will determine McDonald’s gender – an assessment that will involve reviewing ‘any and all collateral documentation and a physical and psychological evaluation.'”
As a woman, it’s not hard to imagine what fate awaits Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald if she is placed in general population in a men’s prison. I never want to see the inside of a men’s prison, and I shudder at the idea of a transgender woman being sent to one. What ultimately happens remains to be seen. In the meantime, CeCe’s friends have established a website to support her cause, or you can write a letter to Cece McDonald by visiting http://supportcece.wordpress.com/. Alexx