No Justice for CeCe

A black transgender woman faces prison for killing her attacker. Her supporters call that a crime.

Courtesy of Support CeCe McDonald
Courtesy of Support CeCe McDonald

“I never thought I would make it past my 16th birthday. To grow up and have that thought at a young age is unsettling — the thought or feeling of knowing or expecting that today could be my last day on Earth, only because someone hates me for being the person I felt would make my life happiest.” —CeCe McDonald

In a matter of moments, on a warm summer night last June in St. Paul, Minn., what started out as an innocent trip to a grocery store for Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald and her friends quickly turned into a street brawl that would result in someone being killed. McDonald, a 23-year-old black transgender woman and college student, and a few of her friends (black people who variously identify as LGBT and straight) passed a local bar, where they encountered two white women and one white man. The man, Dean Schmitz, hurled racist, homophobic and transphobic epithets at the young group of color as they walked by.



“Chicks with d–ks!”

And then it got violent.

One of the two white women with Schmitz smashed a beer glass on McDonald’s face. People from the bar spilled out into the streets to help the white trio fight the black youths. Somewhere in between fists and insults being thrown, McDonald took out a pair of scissors from her purse and stabbed Schmitz, who died at the scene.

Despite claiming self-defense, that same night McDonald, after being treated for injuries, was interrogated and ultimately charged with second-degree murder. She was also kept in jail for two months.

It’s incredibly hard to ignore the similarities and the hypocrisy between the killing of Trayvon Martin and McDonald’s attack. Both were young and black and walking down the street minding their own business. Both were harassed and attacked for being different. But both had very different outcomes.