On her way to the store with a group of friends, trans African-American woman Chrishaun Reed “CeCe” McDonald was verbally insulted — with both racial and trans-phobic slurs — and then brutally attacked outside a bar. In the altercation that followed, a man was killed. CeCe claimed self-defense, but after a coercive interrogation and pretrial negotiations, she agreed to a plea bargain, fearing that she would receive a far longer sentence if convicted. Despite her status as a trans woman, she was then incarcerated in a men’s prison in Minnesota. When the story of the case began to circulate, an international campaign to free CeCe garnered significant support from media and activists, including actress Laverne Cox (of “Orange Is the New Black”), who serves as executive producer of and on-camera interviewer in “Free CeCe!” Exploring the role that race, class, and gender played in CeCe’s case, filmmaker Jacqueline Gares pushes past the everyday narratives of victimhood to detail the ways in which CeCe and others are leading a growing movement to fight for the rights of transgender people everywhere. “Free CeCe!” also goes beyond the issues facing transgender women of color, highlighting the significant inequalities of the criminal-justice and prison systems. In the end, despite the difficulties and injustices she’s faced, CeCe emerges not only as a survivor but also as a leader.
A transgender filmmaker processes and contextualizes his experience of having his breasts removed.