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Transgender woman CeCe McDonald to be released early from men's prison

Trans woman CeCe McDonald will be freed early from a Minnesota men's prison on January 13. She maintains that she killed a man in self-defense after an assault.

Transgender woman CeCe McDonald will be released from prison next week after being sentenced to 41 months in May of 2012, according to the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

McDonald pled guilty to second-degree manslaughter in the death of Dean Schmitz in June of 2011. McDonald described the stabbing as an act of self-defense after being verbally and physically assaulted while walking to a 24-hour grocery store late at night.

In a blog entry written while incarcerated, McDonald stated,

“Currently, I am in a men’s state prison for the death of someone I accidentally stabbed in the act of defending myself.”

She recollects walking past “racist drunks,” a group of one man and two women, who began yelling racist and transphobic statements directed towards McDonald and her friends. One of the women threw a drink at McDonald and smashed the glass cup in her face, causing a deep laceration on her cheek that cut her saliva gland.

McDonald writes, “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.” McDonald was the only one arrested.

Supporters have spent the past year and a half rallying for McDonald’s release, faulting her conviction on the basis that she was defending herself from a violent hate crime.

The blog “Demand Fair Justice for CeCe McDonald” posted a letter yesterday to supporters of McDonald, writing:

“The rumors are true: CeCe is scheduled to be released from prison in January. She will wait and write a public statement about her release after she gets out of prison, because she wants to tell you all in her own words and own time. She would like to spend her first days out in privacy, with people she feels close to. Again, information about her release will be shared when CeCe feels it is the right time to do so. In the meantime, she and her support committee ask everyone to be patient.”

According to The Advocate, trans actress Laverne Cox--star of the Netflix hit show Orange Is the New Black--is in production on a documentary about McDonald’s life, Free CeCe!