In solidarity with CeCe McDonald

By Andrea Persephone Sand, MN NOW Affirmative Action Chair

On June 5, 2011, not even two miles from my home, Dean Schmitz, a white supremacist with a swastika tattoo who was surrounded by other hateful individuals, began spewing intolerance at CeCe McDonald, a young woman of color (we are not going through transition just to forever be called transgender), and her friends: words like ‘nigger’, ‘faggot’, and  ‘chick with a dick’.

After a short scuffle instigated by a female companion of Mr. Schmitz, CeCe found herself bloodied and injured, but still alive.

Nobody but her was taken in to custody, and only she was prosecuted after being interrogated and denied proper medical attention for her injuries.

Her charge was murder in the second degree, which is defined as “an intentional killing that is not premeditated or planned, nor committed in a reasonable ‘heat of passion’ or a killing caused by dangerous conduct and the offender’s obvious lack of concern for human life.” It appears the message to our community is our lives are worth remarkably less than those of gender-normative heterosexuals.

Amy Senser’s trial got so much media coverage–dare I say too much. Perhaps it was the sensationalism of it all, or that it was easier to watch and listen to than the CeCe McDonald trial. It may just have been easier to watch tabloids unfold than to pay attention to a travesty of justice.

Transpeople face harassment and discrimination far, far too often. Be it in major arenas like employment and housing, or minor arenas like using the bathroom, going to the gym, or going to the store. Couple that with being a young woman of color, and this beautiful person became the target for a malicious attack. In trying to reason what is happening to a person whose only crime was to fight back, I’ve found it terrible how every question just leads to more questions, none of them receiving proper answers.

Is it really so unacceptable that CeCe McDonald came out on top instead of being another number in a statistic that says 1 in 12 transgender people will have their lives prematurely ended for them?

Is it justice or institutionalized cruelty that, when she plead down in a rigged system, she was sentenced to serve out her time in a men’s prison facility where she will face sexual and physical assaults because of her gender?

How can we allow this to happen? Do things like rape and assault become acceptable when they happen to prisoners? If so, are they still acceptable when that person is wrongly imprisoned in the wrong prison? What would the outrage be if through some archaic legal loophole a young white cisgendered woman was sent to a men’s prison? Why is there any difference in the reaction? Why do we, while living in what has been called the new San Francisco, just turn a blind eye to what is going on to a sister in need?

The State Board of Minnesota NOW, on behalf of our statewide membership, condemns this hostility towards a woman who had the gall and audacity to fight back–a woman who had the courage, fortitude, and incredible luck to come out of such a fight with life still inside her. It is not acceptable for a system designed to protect everyone, founded on the basis of innocent until proven guilty, to reinforce an archaic notion that GLBTQA individuals must not only endure verbal and physical harassment, but must also suppress their natural instinct to fight back when put in a life or death situation because our lives are somehow worth less than our heteronormative counterparts.

It is not okay for the very same system that allows white men to stand their ground with lethal force to also condemn women and minorities for doing the same. This is not justice; this is institutionalized hatred and intolerance.

In solidarity with CeCe McDonald, we demand she be pardoned and freed immediately or, at the very least, moved to a women’s facility where she will be safe.

To learn more about CeCe, how you can stay updated on her case, and how you can support her while she remains imprisoned, visit The site also has extensive links and resources for learning more about the targeting of transpeople for violence and incarceration.

Photos of CeCe were taken from the TruTV Crime Library report on the case.

Meet our new intern, Salisa Grant!

We are thrilled to welcome a new intern here at Minnesota NOW: Hamline University student Salisa Grant!  Salisa kindly offered to share a little about herself and her interest in feminism with our blog readers.


My name is Salisa Grant and I am the newest intern for Minnesota NOW! I am originally from Providence, Rhode Island but grew up in Duluth, MN and I’m a junior at Hamline University majoring in both Women’s Studies and English with a concentration in Creative Writing and minoring in Sociology.

As a first generation college student and a Black woman I am reminded everyday of just how lucky I am to be here at Hamline, in college, learning and growing every day. I know the sacrifices that were made for me by my foremothers and fore-grandmothers, as well as the sacrifices that continue to be made for me every day and I am extremely grateful for these.

I am a passionate poet as well as an advocate for many social justice issues such as race, gender, sexuality, socio-economic status, and ability among others. (Hence the majors, minor, and concentration.) These past three years at Hamline I have been able to explore my passions and find avenues and opportunities in which to apply the skills that I am continually gaining. I was the 2011 recipient of the George Henry Bridgman Poetry Prize for my poem I Wanna Be Fly, and I was named the 2011 Outstanding Sophomore by the Hedgeman Center for Student Diversity as well.

These opportunities include various conferences and summits on and off campus and around the country including the National Conference of Race and Ethnicity in Washington D.C., Hamline University’s Women’s Leadership Retreat (twice) etc., as well as a service learning trip to San Francisco focusing on LGBTQIA issues along with many other amazing opportunities. I have had three poems published in our Literary Journal: The Fulcrum, and have worked for three years in our Student Administrative Services office on campus. I am the Vice President of PRIDE Black Student Alliance and a Lead Team member of our Peer Education group on campus as well as a Lead New Student Mentor (orientation leader).

I am happiest when I am surrounded by family or friends, or somewhere reading a book that makes me think differently about the world. As the daughter of a single mother of three, I have seen the diverse and various difficulties that women go through in a racist, patriarchal, heteronormative society and I am dedicated to uplifting those that are oppressed and rehabilitating those that do the oppressing.

Every day I work to create the future that I want for myself and this world and this internship will allow me to continue to do this in new and exciting ways. I am excited to learn more about MN NOW, to grow in my advocacy and Feminism, and to contribute to the extremely important work that this organization does.

And we feel extremely lucky to have you on our team, Salisa!  Welcome!