CeCe McDonald, a transgender woman whose 2012 manslaughter conviction turned her case into a cause célèbre, was released from a Minnesota prison today.
McDonald, 26, pleaded to a manslaughter charge in the death of Dean Schmitz, 47, an ex-con and member of a white supremacist gang, who confronted her with racist and homophobic taunts outside a Minneapolis bar in June 2011.
A fight ensued, and McDonald was slashed across the face with a broken glass by a friend of Schmitz, before she attacked the man, stabbing him to death with a pair of scissors.
“I’m sure that to Dean’s family, he was a loving, caring person,” McDonald told the court at her sentencing hearing, according to the Star Tribune. “But that is not what I saw that night. I saw a racist, transphobic, narcissistic bigot who did not have any regard for my friends and I.”
McDonald was sentenced to 3.5 years and was ordered to serve time in a men’s prison in Minnesota. She served two-thirds of that sentence in prison, a standard procedure in Minnesota, and will serve the rest on parole.
Her case drew the attention of the transgender community, who believed she was unfairly prosecuted for defending herself because she is black and transgender.
Among her supporters was Laverne Cox, a transgender activist and actress who stars in the prison drama “Orange Is The New Black.”
Cox, who plans to release a documentary entitled “Free CeCe,” met McDonald soon after her release.
During her time in prison, a petition led to the state department of corrections administering the full regimen of hormones she needed, but she remained quartered with men despite a transfer to a second facility.
“CeCe is doing great. She looks good and She is good spirits,” said
Roxanne Anderson, the program director for the Trans Youth Support Network, and among the group who picked up McDonald from prison.
Anderson said McDonald was not ready to comment publicly.
Cece McDonald is out of prison today. Wishing her the very best. pic.twitter.com/Gz7jt37Z4S
— Prison Culture (@prisonculture) January 13, 2014