A transgender woman was recently sentenced to a 41-month prison term in a men’s prison for acting in what many are calling self-defense in response to a hate crime. Cece McDonald, a young, black, transgender woman was arrested in Minnesota last June for stabbing and killing a white man who was part of a group that physically attacked her while yelling racial and homophobic slurs.

McDonald accepted a plea deal and pled guilty to second-degree manslaughter last month and will be incarcerated in the Minnesota state prison as a male. The court’s decision to do so has brought to light the physical and sexual violence that transgender people experience within the prison system.

Activists around the country have taken up the case for McDonald, starting a Support CeCe campaign to draw attention to the case as well as to the large amount of violence that transgender people experience, both on the streets and in the criminal justice system. According to Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality, transgender women are 13 times more likely to be sexually assaulted in U.S. prisons than are cisgender, or non-transgender, people.

On the night of her sentencing, outraged supporters filled the streets outside the Hennepin County Jail, where she was being held, in protest. Leslie Feinberg, transgender activist and author of Stone Butch Blues, was arrested that evening in solidarity. Marches have been held around the country in solidarity since McDonald’s arrest, and supporters say they will continue to demand justice for her and all trans people and people of color.

Media Resources: Advocate 6/11/12; ThinkProgress 6/11/12; MSNBC 6/10/12; StarTribune 6/5/12; Colorlines 6/4/12

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