Members of the Springfield College community from a variety of different backgrounds and ages came to view the screening of the documentary “Free CeCe” in the Dodge Room upstairs in the Flynn Campus Union on Monday night.
“Free CeCe” is about CeCe McDonald, a transgender woman of color who was incarcerated in a men’s prison after defending herself from an attacker who continuously spewed sexist and racist taunts towards her in front of a bar in Minneapolis, MN on June, 5 2011. McDonald, who is now released, is an advocate for prison reform. The documentary looks into the injustice that took place throughout McDonald’s case, the problems that plague the American prison system, and cases similar to McDonald’s.
The optimistic side of the film highlights how the LGBT community supported her every step of the way throughout the process and how she can now use her platform to advocate against the injustices taking place in the American prison system against trans inmates. The film addresses this by touching on the idea of prison abolition, the strength of the prison industrial complex, and how it can be changed.
Before McDonald took her eventual plea bargain in relation to her case, it was decided that she would be put into solitary confinement. She was told that it would be “for her own protection.”
“There is no contact with anyone at all,” McDonald said in the film about the situation. “It was really depressing. Especially knowing what their [the court’s] reasoning was. I feel like they try to make you hate yourself because you’re nonconforming.”
The love and support that McDonald received from the LGBT community through her situation has had an impact on how she treats others.
“It makes you want to reciprocate that love. Not just to them but to the world,” said McDonald in the film. “Because it’s sad to understand that someone can’t love you because of how you want to be happy.”
After the screening, McDonald said that one of her favorite aspects of coming to colleges is acting how she wants. She’s not going to act how people expect her to act.
“I’m not going to fit a rainbow pig into a circle hole. It’s just not going to fit.”
A white woman asked what she should do to support her 13-year-old who is transitioning into becoming a male.
“It’s important to just be there and have conversations,” said McDonald. “You also need to establish with your child the type of privileges they will have now that they are white and male. Being backed by whiteness will take them into different spaces. It is important that they are grounded in that and that they don’t hold up white supremacy.”
McDonald showed her documentary to bring attention to a topic that is not addressed as much as it should be and to hopefully open patrons’ eyes to the injustices that trans women of color face in the American prison system. With the way that the documentary masterfully carried the viewer through her strenuous struggle from 2011 to present day, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say she achieved just that.