CeCe McDonald walked out of St. Cloud State Penitentiary a free woman on January 13, after serving 19 months of a 41-month sentence. She will be under court supervision for the remainder of the sentence. McDonald, a transgender woman, was sent to a men’s prison.
After pleading guilty to manslaughter on charges stemming from a fight outside a bar that began with her minding her own business before three White people started hollering sexual and racial slurs and one of them wound up dead, the plain fact is McDonald shouldn’t’ve been in jail at all. But, apparently some good will come of this.
There reportedly is underway a documentary, Free CeCe, about what happened to her, including her incarceration. And it likely will make some noise, since one of the producers is reality television star Laverne Cox of Netflix drama Orange Is the New Black fame and the other is Jacqueline Gares who did the 40th anniversary of Stonewall installment of the series In the Life.
Since the law says convicts can’t benefit financially from their crimes, unless the producers’ lawyers can come up with a good loophole, McDonald won’t make any money off the deal. It has, though, just by benefit of the film being in the works, accorded a reasonably strong profile. Nationally, so, with a smart agent, she should pretty much be set and be able to pick up plenty work indirectly.
Importantly, the film, once completed and distributed — cross your fingers it doesn’t get derailed (some well-worthy projects have stalled and gone by the wayside as readily can happen if funding dries up or that old thorn in the side, creative differences, arise) — it will put concretely before the public the concept that non-heterosexuals are people, too.
Living, breathing human beings don’t deserve to be victimized just because their nose doesn’t [?] the same place as yours when the bedroom door is closed. The fact that it respects Cece McDonald will give transgender individuals a moral shot in the arm.
Of course, no matter how well it’s done, Free CeCe principally will be preaching to the choir. Those attending screenings, lining up at the box office and otherwise materializing as a rapt audience will already be convinced of CeCe McDonald’s humanity. They are already sympathetic to cruelly unjust imprisonment and grateful that, whether she should’ve ever been locked up or not, that she is free.
The sticking point will be how, to all those narrow-minded, blindly ignorant, self-righteously holier-than-thou, it-was-Adam-and-Eve, not-Adam-and-Steve moralists, put their prejudices aside long enough to even watch the film, let alone broaden their thinking. Theirs is the mindset that threatened her to begin with.
Theirs is the stalwart bastion of bigotry, about which something has to be done. How the hell that’s ever going to happen is a tough nut to crack. Still, in the meanwhile, Free CeCe is well worth looking forward to, because the making of this documentary is the right thing to do.
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