Digital Transgender Archive

Interview with Chishaun (CeCe) McDonald

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CeCe McDonald identifies as a black woman and was assigned male at birth. Her full name is Chrishaun Reed Mai’luv McDonald. She was 27 at the time of the interview and is the oldest of seven siblings. She grew up in Chicago, Illinois and lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is a barista, activist, and social instigator. She began identifying as a gay boy at a young age, coming out in elementary school to her friends, since it was the closet identity that made sense at the time. Her mother was forceful when it came to McDonald conforming to masculine gender expectations. McDonald remembers praying to be normal, and she became suicidal and rebellious as a result. She began identifying as a femme queen, and then she started transitioning at 13 at the Howard Brown Center when she lived in Chicago when she began to identify more with being trans and female. At 18 she moved to Minneapolis where she stayed at Dorothy Day shelter in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota. She had a difficult time finding a regular job since transitioning. She’s been jumped multiple times, once even getting jumped by seven people at once. In 2011, McDonald was verbally and physically attacked by a group of neo-Nazis. She stabbed one of her attackers who died. She ended up in jail and was charged with second degree murder. She decided to take it to trial after the first plea deal. After nine months in jail and after seeing where the case was going, she decided to take a plea deal. She spent 19 months in jail and 13 months on parole. A documentary came out in 2016 called Free CeCe! produced by Laverne Cox which speaks to McDonald’s experiences in jail and going to trail. In her interview, she talks about the criminal justice system’s discrimination against black and trans people. She also talks about how HIV/AIDS is a stigmatized identity. She’s been in an open relationship with a straight man for 5 years now. She goes to Smiley’s Clinic to get her hormones and recently got her first laser hair removal treatment done. She didn’t talk to her mom for two years after moving to Minneapolis, but they now have a good relationship and her mother accepts her.

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