CeCe McDonald:<br />
Attacked for Her Identity, Incarcerated for Surviving
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me. I went to the bathroom and cleaned myself up. And as I washed my face blood continued to run, which is when I noticed that during the jumping my lip went through my tooth which caused me to have a scar over my top lip, and it’s still there."

Stories like McDonald’s aren’t at all unusual. Research shows that Black transgender people weather a disproportionate amount of discrimination, brutality, police harassment, sexual assault and incarceration. Instances abound of transgender women of color being murdered because of their assailants’ individual bias or systemic bias that makes them so much more vulnerable to homelessness and participation in an underground economy. The crimes often go unpunished, unrecognized, misreported and unnoticed outside of their immediate communities.

In the aftermath of McDonald’s case, some activists are calling for systemic change. I agree with them, of course. But I also want to use this space to say, point blank, Crishaun “CeCe” McDonald should not be in prison for defending herself against a racist transphobe who decided to pick a fight with her and her friends. If she weren’t a Black transgender woman, she wouldn’t be expected to stand for that kind of abuse.

Actually, she would be considered a survivor.

Akiba Solomon is an NABJ-Award winning writer, freelance journalist, editor and essayist from West Philadelphia. She writes about the intersection between gender and race for Colorlines and is the co-editor of Naked: Black Women Bare All About Their Skin, Hair, Hips, Lips, and Other Parts .