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As many of us aware, last June CeCe McDonald and several of her trans friends were walking in Minneapolis when confronted by a group of angry white supremacists, who proceeded to verbally assault CeCe and her friends with racism and transphobia. When CeCe stood her ground against this verbal tirade, they proceeded to physically assault her and her friends. In the aftermath of the resulting melee, Dean Schmitz (who was later discovered to have a swastika tattoo on his chest) wound up dead.
CeCe survived, and the system punished her for that by throwing her in prison, and further, forcing her into solitary confinement, an exceptionally cruel punishment for an exceptionally vulnerable member of society.
Meanwhile in Palestine, hunger strikes have broken out amongst Palestinian political detainees who are held in cruel conditions in Israeli prisons without charge or trial, often for entirely arbitrary reasons. This includes Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak, who Israel recently promised to free after his epic three month fast.
Just as the media remains largely silent about CeCe McDonald and other trans people (particularly trans women of color, sex workers and those living in poverty) who are unjustly forced into abusive conditions in prisons here in North America, the media also remains silent about Palestine’s hunger strike heroes like Mahmoud Sarsak who are standing against arbitrary arrest and torture at the hands of Israeli occupation forces.
At this year’s Pride Toronto Trans March, we commit ourselves to reminding the world of their voices and their stories.
As members of Dykes and Trans People for Palestine, we invite all trans people and allies to join us at the trans rally Friday June 29 at 6 pm at Norman Jewison Park, followed by the trans march at 7:30 pm. Our group will be meeting in the space around 7:15 pm to form a contingent committed to promoting justice and solidarity with those targeted by the prison-industrial complex, and in solidarity in the wider struggle against patriarchy and imperialism, including Israel’s apartheid against the Palestinian people.
As feminists and trans-feminists we stand opposed to all forms of gender violence. As feminists and trans-feminists we stand opposed to all forms of racism and colonialism, and all other oppressions and social injustices.
My recent article at Pretty Queer focuses on leadership, politics and support for trans women within the trans community:
I want to preface the comments I’m about to make by acknowledging that our trans community (communitIES is really what I should say) is reeling from some events over the last couple of months. I think many of us are heartbroken, as we should be, over a series of murders of young trans women of color across the U.S. in the last month followed by the recent development that CeCe McDonald had few better legal options than to plead to 2nd degree manslaughter with a recommended 41-month sentence.
To make matters worse, the aftermath of the murders mentioned above recall the usual patterns of police dismissal and blatant disrespect from the media for the victims of racism and trans-misogyny. It is in this context that I think a lot of us feel, in addition to grief and frustration, plenty of doubt and uncertainty about where to head next. The solutions are not always clear, and I think we must avoid the trap of looking for easy answers.
In the aftermath of CeCe’s plea bargain, PrettyQueer’s Tom Léger conducted an interview with Dean Spade, a well-known trans activist and Assistant Professor of Law at a Seattle law school. I’ll note from the outset that criticisms of Dean have been surfacing in recent years; the criticisms primarily focus on his relationship (both professionally speaking and as an activist) with trans women.
For the rest, check out the full article at Pretty Queer here.