CeCe McDonald, the young black transgender woman who accepted a plea deal and pled guilty to second-degree manslaughter last month will be incarcerated by the state of Minnesota as a male. McDonald was arrested after she stabbed a white male who was part of a group of that physically and verbally attacked her with transgender and racial slurs.
The plea agreement calls for a sentence of three years and five months in prison, according to the Star Tribune.
Upon sentencing, McDonald, 24, will be taken into custody by the state Department of Corrections and housed as a male “because he is being housed as a male with Hennepin County,” corrections spokeswoman Sarah Russell told the Star Tribune on Monday. “We will intake him as a male at St. Cloud prison.”
Russell went on to add the state will make its own determination of McDonald’s gender.
“We will assess him as any other offender would be assessed,” Russell said. “The assessments include, but are not limited to, screening for potential vulnerability to sexual assaults, tendencies to act out with sexually aggressive behavior and any disabilities” as defined by federal law.
I already expected that CeCe was going to be sent to a male prison, having read about this incredible likelihood. Therefore, appalled and angered by it as I am, I wasn’t shocked. So my first reaction was how incredibly disrespectful and oppressive it was that she was being referred to here as a man with male pronouns.
But the thing is that the violence — looking at sexual assault rates in prison, especially those against trans women, I mean “violence” in the most literal sense possible — of sending her to a male prison cannot be justified through the use and display of respect. To refer to CeCe properly would be to show that they don’t really believe she is a man, and they don’t really believe she belongs in a male prison. To call her “she” would be to render this call indefensible and inhumane. It would be an admission of who she really is, and therefore of what they’re really doing.
Which is to say simply that the violence and oppression of the prison industrial complex REQUIRES further violence and oppression in order to justify and perpetuate its existence. It doesn’t just stop with one offense, for further are needed to give it the illusion of acceptability and/or to cover it up.