Trans Actress Laverne Cox Creating Documentary About 2011 Cece McDonald Trans Bashing

Laverne Cox, the transgender actress famous for playing the trans inmate Sophia in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black is working on a documentary about the 2011 attack upon and subsequent imprisonment of transgender woman CeCe McDonald. Cox_mcdonald

For those of you unfamiliar with the case: Around midnight on June 5, 2011, 23-year-old CeCe McDonald was verbally and physically assaulted by Dean Schmitz and his friends. They called McDonald's group a bunch of "ni–ers" and "faggots" and Schmitz himself said, "Look at that boy dressed like a girl tucking her dick in."

Schmitz's ex-girlfriend Molly Flaherty allegedly broke a cocktail glass across McDonald's face, tearing open her cheek. And as the two groups began fighting, McDonald tried to flee; Schmitz pursued her. McDonalds ended up stabbing Schmitz in the chest with a pair of scissors from her purse — he later died from that wound.

McDonald was sentenced to 41 months in a Minnesota men's prison for second degree manslaughter and is reportedly scheduled for a January 13, 2014 release followed by another 13 months of supervised release.

Cox, who got to meet with McDonald several times over the course of the documentary, told Persephone magazine:

"CeCe’s story is one that should have been covered more in the press. Trans women, particularly trans women of color, experience disproportionate amounts of violence and not enough is being done to eradicate that violence. CeCe’s story in so many ways encapsulates the intersectional issues that lead to far too many of us experiencing violence. I wanted to do a piece that explores the nature of how race, class and gender affect violence towards trans women and also give CeCe a space to tell her story in her words in the context of a piece that truly values the lives of trans women of color."

In the same interview, Cox's co-producer Jac Gares cites a 2012 National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs report stating that of 25 anti-LGBT homicide victims in 2012 53.8% were transgender women and 73.1% were people of color.

You can help fund the documentary here.


  1. woodroad34 says

    So, someone escaping from an attack and yet being pursued is found guilty of trying to preserve their life? I know Minnesota is somewhat backwards (despite having Mary Richards for a short period of time); but this is ridiculous. I’m glad the f***er got his due.

  2. Vera says

    I do feel for her but this article obscures the facts of the case that she might have just stabbed a man with a pair of scissors who was just armed with his fists. She’s changed her story multiple times (at least 3) and she did plead guilty, which alas, does make her guilty in the eyes of both the law and the public unless the conviction is overturned. She also, killed someone and since she could not prove intent to kill or harm, it would have been judged that she acted with undue force.

    That being said though, the attacker had a neo-Nazi tattoo that he got in prison, ‘To blend in’. While of course we have no way of knowing if he was a hardcore racist, I think anyone that is willing to brand themselves in that way, is guilty by association. Too bad it wasn’t able to be used against him in CeCe’s trial. At least she might be set free ahead of schedule.

  3. Serene says

    Some people called her names. Instead of walking past it, she turned around and confronted them. A fight ensued. She stabbed a man in the chest with scissors, killing him. She tried to flee and then lied repeatedly to the police about what happened. Then she pled guilty and is in prison where she belongs.

    Laverne Cox should definitely explore how race and gender come into play. In particular, Laverne Cox should examine why trans activists like Laverne Cox are so abominably racist and sexist that they would defend acts of homicide if committed by a Black transsexual. She should also examine why so many transgenders have criminal histories.

  4. Helene says

    “Trans women, particularly trans women of color, experience disproportionate amounts of violence and not enough is being done to eradicate that violence.”

    Well, CeCe “experienced” violence by practicing it. As is the case with many, many transfolk. One way to eradicate the violence that CeCe “experienced” would have been for CeCe to not stab a human being in the chest with scissors.

    “I wanted to do a . . . piece that truly values the lives of trans women of color.”

    Very noble. However, the trans woman of color in this case is very much alive and well. It is the “cis scum” – as trans activists refer to normal people – whose life was not valued, and who is now dead. I guess Laverne Cox doesn’t care about the victim of homicidal violence because he isn’t trans and he is the wrong color.

  5. Zeta says

    “McDonalds ended up stabbing Schmitz in the chest with a pair of scissors from her purse — he later died from that wound.”

    I take it Schmitz and friends were white, for McDonald to defend him/herself only to have a jury send him/her away to jail.

  6. Zeta says

    Helene, McDonalds was defending him/herself. How is defense ‘practicing violence’? McDonald’s was supposed to curl up in a ball and die that night?

  7. Helene says

    Zeta, the killer pled guilty. She was not defending herself because she was a participant in the altercation and because she was not in reasonable fear of her life.

    CeCe could have walked away when the first insult was uttered. Nobody was pursuing her or blocking her path. But “her” macho pride would not allow for that. Like a testosterone-driven male, she couldn’t accept losing face and being disrespected by another male. A real woman would not have felt the need to go and confront a stranger over an insult.

    The victim was white and was not a good person, but it is sad to see trans activists using the victim’s race to excuse violence and homicide. Transactivists have a lot in common with the KKK.

  8. ratbastard says

    There are many reasons, not just one, why transgendered ‘people of color’ rank so high as anti-gay anti-transgender violence. Most likely is where the victims live/lived, neighborhoods with high violent crime rates, being socioeconomically disadvantage, i.e. what we called growing up poor, engaging in dangerous activities likely due ton the above, substance abuse issues, etc.

    And so called white people are also ‘people of color’. We ‘white’ people aren’t translucent, we have many shades of color. We have wvewry share of hair color immaginable, blue, grey, hazel, green, brown eyes, skin tone from very pale to dark tan. Who invented this obnoxious, goofy phrase ‘people of color’?

  9. ratbastard says


    I’ve witnessed real females do many insane, crazy things in my life, inclyding deliberately pick fights, instigate others to violence throughtrash talk and hate, and serious lack of iimpulse control, especially during that time of the month or mid life menopause.

  10. Helene says


    I find your comments on Towleroad to be pointless, poorly executed trolling and almost never worth responding to. But in this case, I’ll bite.

    Even if we accepted your sexist statements as true, they wouldn’t have anything to do with CeCe. CeCe was not going through “that time of the month” or menopause. And I doubt whether the incidents you supposedly observed in which women showed poor impulse control or instigated conflict involved a woman going up to a complete stranger, a male on the street, to pursue physical confrontation. In fact, I would bet that if we looked at the crime reports from Minneapolis for the past 10 years, we wouldn’t find a single case involving a real woman comparable to CeCe’s.

    The point? “Transwomen” may not be men, but whether because of genetics, early brain development, upbringing, or the hormonal mix in their bodies, neither are they women. If it is wrong to misgender them as males, it is equally wrong to misgender them as females.

  11. FootBaller says

    Dear Serene,

    Please get back to me when you yourself have walked a mile in the shoes of a “BLACK TRANSEXUAL”. It’s the same thing for Blacks regardless of gender, people such as yourself will always play the blame game. Do yourself a favor, cut holes in the sheet you put over your head so you can at least see my ass when you kiss it!!!!

  12. Danielle Moneer Macdonell says

    Now all you folks know that whatever a trans woman does, the liars like this HELENE person come out and try to find a way to blame trans women of color for breathing. This is what we have to deal with from some women who pretend to be our “allies”, thanks whoever you are but STFU already. Your hate, lies, and fear define you as an enemy of all queers. Your opinion is worth as much as Cathy Brennan’s, who just got laughed out of the argument about Ani DeFranco’s retreat. People like you, who out children (and are willing to support NOM front groups like PJI), are thugs who have no place in the queer movement. Your opinions carry as much weight as Rush Limbaugh’s here, go away.

  13. Helene says

    @Spencer aka “Danielle”:

    Trans activists can’t argue and can’t persuade, so they bully and try to make you “go away.” Well, Spencer, my creepy, ancient, obese shemale, I and others who are with me are not going anywhere.

    You are right about one thing: I am an enemy of anyone who tells gay and lesbian people that they are “queer”. LGBs are not queer. There may be individual LGBs who see themselves as lifetime outsiders and forever at war with their own communities, but that is not who LGBs are as a people. Malcontented, rage-filled old men in dresses like you have a stake in persuading gay youth to think of themselves that way, but I and others will see that you fail in your mission to damage these kids and bring them to your level.

    As for “blaming” CeCe, I don’t think that her breathing was the reason she was arrested, tried, convicted and imprisoned. I believe it had something to do with taking a man’s life by stabbing him in the chest with scissors. She admitted doing that. So yes, she is to blame for the taking of a human life. Why this doesn’t upset you is something you should take up with your psych.

  14. says

    gays have always fought for acceptance and equality , yet when it comes to trans people i mostly see ignorance , insensitivity and down right hatred from gays without any sense of self awareness or irony. must be a form of projection. trans women are women as “real” as any other women. deal with it.

  15. alliefoo says

    “Malcontented, rage-filled old men in dresses like you have a stake in persuading gay youth to think of themselves that way”

    Wow, sexist much?

  16. Danielle Moneer Macdonell says

    Oooohhh, I got outed by a Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist (it’s not my birth name, and I transitioned within my community, so everyone knows my history). Now everyone gets to see your tragic bitter hatred on display. Is this Bug Brennan, or the TERF’s that are pissed off at Bug? Whoever, this is the name on my passport, how many names are you using here? I’m not hiding, I’d rather you try me on than some trans kid, like Brennan did working with a NOM front group (PJI) to drive a child to thoughts of suicide, but you might find I’m bit tougher target than a child.

    p.s. your research really blows chunks, you forgot to mention my three years working on Coop Radio’s Lesbian Show, and the last four years on the board of the Vancouver Dyke March & Festival (I’m the stage manager :o)

  17. says

    i always find it amusing when radical feminists criticize the appearance of trans women. have you seen what most of those women look like ? they don’t look like men in a dress because they don’t usually wear dresses (NTTAATWWT) . they do look like portly middle aged men though for the most part.