Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald is a young African American trans woman currently being charged with two counts of second degree murder following an incident on June 5th, 2011. Her case has drawn international attention and sparked a groundswell of community support. CeCe spoke to PrettyQueer on December 12th.
You can also sign the petition to free her.
Tom: What has really stunned me about your story is the community support. It seems like people all over the country are paying attention to the case.
Tom: And I was wondering is that something that you feel is true from where you’re sitting? Do you feel that you‘re getting a lot of support and attention?
CeCe: Yes, actually I was just talking to some friends yesterday about having this opportunity. Because a lot of people, especially in the African-American community, tend to just take what is given to them when it comes to situations that put you in a predicament where you can’t, you know, think and actually consider things. You know what I’m saying? You’re pressured in jail. Jail will make somebody say, you know, “Whatever, just get me out of here.”
So all this support we have now, not just from the LGBT community, but also the Straight community and, you know, everybody now can have some understanding of the issues that Trans people face and that Gay people face. You know, how we are always singled out or just left with the worse possible decision from the pressure of jail. A lot of people don’t really hear about that or they just brush it off. You know what I am saying? like, “Oh! It is another queer person, whatever.” But it’s deeper than that because I am a person, too.
I feel like this opportunity gives me a voice and not just a voice for myself but for all the people who’ve been through this.
Tom: Well, that’s the amazing thing. Your story, the actual events, unfortunately it felt like another kind of tick-mark on the box.
Tom: So that’s why it has been so amazing to me to watch, because it’s been so well covered and so well documented. It seems like you have a huge network of people who are helping. Why do you think your case was different? What’s different about you?
CeCe: Because I had people in my life from the beginning that felt that the situation couldn’t just go by without anything being said or without a fair trial. Because, like I said, many times when you are in jail, specifically with GLBT people, we tend to just take the deal that is given us. Do you know what I’m saying?
CeCe: And a lot people don’t have time to think it over and consider the consequence or the alternative. So the people in my life, they – from knowing me from moving up here and knowing my story, knowing my history, they felt that this was worth the fight. I’ve come so far in my life. Just to know that I might be going through this, but there are people behind me and that I do have options and that I don’t have to take what is given to me. I am glad that I have that I have all these people in my life because at the moment when that happened I felt lost. I didn’t know what to do and I was just a wreck. Luckily I had those people there to piece me back together and to give me strength and tell me how to handle this situation.
Tom: So who were these people? Can you name names, like just the two or three most important people who changed the circumstance for you?
CeCe: One person, of course, was a case manger of mine. Her name is Abbey Beasley and she used to work at a non-profit organization called SafeZone. I used to go there when I was younger to, you know, get on my feet and look for school and for work and she was my permanent manager until the time when I was too old to have a case manager and be there. But she stayed in my life afterwards and our friendship and our connection grew so much closer. So, you know, when she heard the story, she got everyone involved.
Tom: That’s amazing. So that’s someone who had previously been a service provider and then became a friend. Are there other friends that are just people you know from, like, your social life that have been people who have been really active in it? Where was your network of support, where‘d that come from?
CeCe: My support came mainly from my family.
Tom: Your family?
CeCe: Yes, mainly from my mom. She doesn’t live in the state, all my family stays in Chicago, but I keep in contact with my mom. And they were the people who gave me the inspiration to keep pushing and keep fighting, you know, keep faith and just stay focused.
I am most definitely glad that I have such a wide variety of people in my life right now that’s supporting me, not just my family, but the organizations and the support from people at other states. It gives me the motivation and the inspiration to, you know, have a voice and to fight. I can be the voice for a lot of people right now and that’s my main objective. I want people to understand that this is an issue and that, you know, our society needs to change so that everyone can live freely and happily. Everyone has their own life to live and I’m just trying to live mine just like everybody else, you know?