|CeCe McDonald is a young transgender woman of color whose story is much too common in our society. A victim of a hate crime that sent her to a male correctional facility, she uses her voice to speak out against the blatant hatred and ignorance so many transgender people face.|
As if race-based, gender-based, and sexuality-based hate crimes were not enough, the bigots and cowards of the world seem to purposely prey on those who belong to all three of the groups mentioned and then some. A young woman named CeCe McDonald was a victim of an ignorance-fueled hate crime in June of 2011 that unfortunately resulted in her incarceration, even though she was the victim. This result is all too common in the world of minorities, especially those belonging to several “outcast” groups.
A Violence All Too Familiar
CeCe McDonald was traveling to a grocery store with a small group of friends late at night. According to some further research I had done, CeCe and her friends were briefly interrogated by a police officer along the way. It is worth mentioning that CeCe — and all her friends — are African American, and we all know deep down, as much as we try to suppress it, reject it, and ignore it, that that was likely the main reason for any police officer to feel compelled to interact with them. But moving on.
Somewhere along the way, CeCe was harassed by a white man named Dean Schmitz, his current girlfriend, and his ex-girlfriend. Slurs of just about every category were shouted at CeCe’s group, namely those insulting her gender identity and race. CeCe responded by saying she would not tolerate hate speech — understandably so — and, for whatever reason, these words were taken as a challenge that became a violent attack toward CeCe. Even after she was both verbally and physically assaulted, her attackers did not allow her to leave. Acting in self-defense, CeCe pulled out a pair of scissors from her purse and, one way or another, this resulted in the death of Dean Schmitz.
Now, I’m not here to condone or condemn CeCe’s reaction — though between you and me, I would have done much worse — but I will offer up my opinion on the consequent court rulings toward this case. Of course, CeCe was held accountable. Of course, CeCe was imprisoned. Of course, the remaining women who initiated this altercation got off scot-free. Of course Schmitz was seen as the innocent victim, despite his excessive background of crime (over two dozen criminal cases!!), his history of drug use, his swastika tattoo, and his intoxicated body. This isn’t to say that CeCe and her friends were any better than Schmitz and his friends, but in a case of self-defense vs. murder, these characteristics are definitely worth noting! But still CeCe was in the wrong, and still she received the short end of the stick.
This is a common result in far too many cases of violence toward transgender persons. There are glaringly obvious biases toward this group that lead to violent altercations and even death of innocent people who just happen to identify as transgender, yet there is no legal action done to prevent these crimes from happening. The way I see it, it may as well be written in stone that it is perfectly legal to verbally, physically, mentally, sexually, or emotionally assault a transgender individual since it is highly unlikely there will be any negative consequences for the assailant.
|"People are being killed out there, and CeCe is being punished for not being killed," said one national trans advocate.|
It’s almost welcomed in this nation, what with actual laws being put in place to prevent transgender individuals from being able to use a damn public restroom. Ignorant, bigoted people are literally starting riots over the fact that department stores want to install unisex bathrooms, as though they don’t own a unisex bathroom in their own homes. If the transgender community was as hostile as these people claim, I’m sure dozens of innocent lives would not be forcefully taken every year as a result of willful ignorance and hatred.
The Need for Transgender Activism
I chose a YouTube video of a school trustee from Toronto being confronted about his homophobic / transphobic tweets. Sam Sotiropoulos is well-known for his nasty, bigoted tweets about the LGBT, but he dodges questions regarding his own, quoted social media posts. I find this is often the case with bigots, especially those online. Anyone can spew as much hatred as they’d like online from the safety of their home, library, school, etc. because the computer screen protects their identity. Anyone can put all their hatred into a 140-character tweet or fill up someone’s newsfeed on Facebook with all the insults and close-minded opinions they possibly can. In person, however, when presented with their own harmful text, they deny any association and claim they “never said that.” POTUS, for example.
From a psychological standpoint, I assume bigots are fully aware that their hatred is heavily opinionated, unwelcome, and most of the time just flat-out wrong, but they are too stubborn to admit it. Rather than own up to their mistakes, they hold on tightly to their angry opinions and block out any room for improvement or acceptance.
In the video, Sam resorts to childish methods of dodging a question such as “I never said that,” the silent treatment, and even straight up walks right out of the room. He knows he said those bad things, he knows they’re on the internet forever, he knows he’s being recorded, and he knows there’s no escape from his small-minded views. So what does he do? Make an even bigger fool of himself. Of course.
When under pressure, it appears those who practice homophobia and transphobia are suddenly aware of how wrong and biased their views are. They immediately reject their views rather than standing by their own opinions. When in groups, however, the mob mentality fuels even more hatred and out come the pitchforks. WHen confronted by someone they feel is “lesser” than them, such as a member of the LBT community — or worse, a person of color who belongs to the LGBT community — they like to express their power with violence and harassment. This awful attitude is what contributes to so many unjust deaths of innocent LGBT youth and it is bred into children from a very young age. People learn to hate and refuse to relinquish these nasty ideals even after it’s too late.
Johnson, Julia. Cisgender Privilege, Intersectionality, and the Criminalization of CeCe McDonald: Why Intercultural Communication Needs Transgender Studies. 2013.