On June 5, 2011, Chrishaun Reed “CeCe” McDonald was brutally attacked. While defending her life, her attacker was killed. CeCe was incarcerated in a men’s prison in Minnesota. An international campaign to free CeCe garnered significant support from media and activists, including trans activists Kate Bornstein, Leslie Feinberg, and Laverne Cox. Soon after CeCe’s incarceration, Laverne Cox met director Jac Gares, and together the two immediately knew the critical importance of CeCe’s story reaching large audiences. “Of the 25 anti-LGBTQ murders in 2012, 53.8% of homicide victims in 2012 were transgender women and 73.1% were people of colour,” Gares noted in an interview with Persephone Magazine. Gares aimed to push past the everyday narratives of victimhood surrounding the lives of transgender people to spotlight the way CeCe and other trans people are leading a growing movement fighting for the rights of trans people everywhere.
Cox signed on as executive producer of FREE CeCe! and committed to exploring the role race, class, and gender played in CeCe’s case. “CeCe’s story is one that should have been covered more in the press. Trans women, particularly trans women of color, experience disproportionate amounts of violence and not enough is being done to eradicate that violence,” says Cox.
The documentary’s focus follows CeCe’s trial, but above all it shows the months after her release as she calls upon a circle of support from caring friends and family, and demonstrates her invaluable leadership as an activist and educator. Her leading voice resonates throughout the documentary and will surely remain in the minds of everyone who sees FREE CeCe!
FREE CeCe! | Jac Gares | USA | 2017 | 102 min | Director in attendance
Screening Sponsors: Scotiabank, UBC: Critical Studies in Sexuality / UBC Education