Two Minnesotans who are advocates for transgender issues appeared on MSNBC on Sunday.

In an appearance on MSNBC, Cece McDonald gave her first interview since being released from prison. She was joined on the Melissa Harris Perry show by Luverne Cox, who stars in the hit Netflix show Orange is the New Black, Katie Burgess of the Trans Youth Support Network, and Rea Carey, the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Harris-Perry showed a clip of Cox at the GLAAD media awards mentioning McDonald as an inspiration for her character on Orange is the New Black.

“Everyday I showed up to work I thought about Cece McDonald and the many trans women of color all across this nation that are unfairly incarcerated. I’m still furious I’m angry that Cece is in prison simply for defending herself but I’m so moved by her courage and leadership even from behind bars.”

Harris Perry asked McDonald how it felt to have been released from prison.

“I’m just really blessed… to be able to continue to advocate and be a leader in the trans community, the African American community, and the LGBTQ community. And to be a role model and inspiration to trans women and trans women of color.”

Cox related her feelings about meeting McDonald at the prison in St. Cloud where she was serving her sentence and the community in Minnesota that rallied around her. “I was so moved by… this woman knows that she is loved. So many trans women of color out there feel that they are not loved, not wanted by the LGBT community, by communities of color by womens’ organizations.”

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Asked about her experience as a transgender woman in prison, McDonald said, “They want to force me to be someone I was not. they wanted me to pretty much delegitimize myself as a transwoman I was not going to take that. As a trans woman, as a proud black transwoman, I was not going to let the system take my identity away from me.”

Keith Ellison;
It appears that Cece McDonald defended herself after a bias motivated attack came on her. However, any loss of life is tragic and therefore I have sympathy for the family of the deceased. Cece’s case reveals the disturbing intolerance of trangender citizens and I hope through her struggle the plight of transpoeple has come to greater awareness.

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Andy Birkey
Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, Vita.mn and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.


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