Laverne came to CeCe and gave her a big hug. They two have been brought together in prison, and that scene was incredibly powerful. There was so much love in that small visitation room right inside the prison industrial complex. “I saw her vulnerability, but I also saw her strength”, – Filmaker Jac Gares recalls. That day CeCe was finally free…

In 2011 CeCe McDonald, trans women of color, was walking down the street with a group of friends, when she was severely attacked. This incident resulted in bleeding wound on CeCe`s face and death of her assailant. Despite obvious evidence, CeCe was presumed guilty and sent to solitary confinement in men`s prison in Minnesota. McDonald`s case caused major public dissonance: it united media and activists from all over the world, including Laverne Cox.

"Free CeCe": Laverne Cox

"Free CeCe": Laverne Cox


Laverne Cox stands up for her sisters

Laverne Cox, an actress, who played trans woman in popular tv-series “Orange is the New Black” stood up for CeCe. Her public speech inspired people to take to the streets to fight for CeCe`s imprisonment. Posters and graffiti, telling “Free CeCe” appeared everywhere. This great support and activism reduced the woman`s prison sentence from murder to manslaughter, from 25 years to 41 month incarceration.

"Free CeCe": Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox, who is also a television producer, promised CeCe, that her tough story will be captured in their collaborative film. The actress couldn`t stay indifferent to such injustice, because she`s also a transgender woman of color. She got GLAAD award for her LGBT advocate activity and became the first trans woman to appear on Time front cover. “And I thought why do I get to be the one to have that in my dreams so many of my sisters don`t. So this is a big deal for me”, – Cox admits.

"Free CeCe": Laverne Cox

"Free CeCe": Laverne Cox


Often repeated and rarely reported

In March 2013 Laverne gave a speech on the injustices in American prisons and law enforcement and CeCe`s case. Jac Gares, a filmmaker, contacted Cox and discussed the idea of turning this story into a film, called “Free CeCe”. After serving 19 months, CeCe was finally released. Laverne Cox and Jac Gares came to meet her in such an important day.

“Free CeCe” tells us about the violence, surrounding transgender woman of color and inequality in criminal justice system. The film is based on interviews with CeCe McDonald and other women, who ever faced cruelty and transphobia. It uncovers hidden problems of the American society: racism and sexism, that finally caused CeCe`s imprisonment.

"Free CeCe": Laverne Cox"Free CeCe": Laverne Cox

“We wanted to tell the story of someone who found themselves in a moment where they had to defend themselves and they had to draw upon their own strength to say “I`m worth it. My life has its value and I`m going to fight for my life”. And I hope people can relate to that. That was one of the most important lessons of this film”, – Gares said in the interview to Advocate. Violence towards transgender woman of color will end, when the society finally sees trans people as human beings. “Free CeCe” is calling to join the front lines of activists, fighting for trans liberation, or at least be more tolerant and recognize the dignity and value of transgenders` lives.

"Free CeCe": Laverne CoxAccording to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, of the 25 anti-lgbt murders in 2012,  73,1% were people of color, 53,8% – transgender women.

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