Unfortunately for nonsubscribers Rolling Stone holds back it’s articles online until the next issue of the magazine is released. This issue, which just appeared on my Kindle, has a heartwrenching story of youth left to fend for themselves after being rejected by their deeply religious parents. I recommend picking up the issue. The article is called, “The Forsaken.”
For now I’ll focus on this story from the previous Rolling Stone. It is important because it let’s readers inside the life of a trans woman who endured and survived only to be changed with murder. Here’s how the article begins…
A dozen eggs, bacon, maybe some biscuits: CeCe McDonald had a modest shopping list in mind, just a few things for breakfast the next day. It was midnight, the ideal time for a supermarket run. Wearing a lavender My Little Pony T-shirt and denim cutoffs, CeCe grabbed her purse for the short walk to the 24-hour Cub Foods. She preferred shopping at night, when the darkened streets provided some relief from the stares, whispers and insults she encountered daily as a transgender woman. CeCe, 23, had grown accustomed to snickers and double takes – and was practiced in talking back to strangers who’d announce, “That’s a man!” But such encounters were tiring; some days a lady just wanted to buy her groceries in peace.
And so it was that on a warm Saturday night in June 2011, CeCe and four friends, all African-Americans in their twenties, found themselves strolling the tree-lined streets of her quiet working-class Longfellow neighborhood in Minneapolis, toward a commercial strip. Leading the way was CeCe’s roommate Latavia Taylor and two purse-carrying gay men – CeCe’s makeshift family, whom she called “cousin” and “brothers” – with CeCe, a fashion student at a local community college, and her lanky boyfriend trailing behind. They were passing the Schooner Tavern when they heard the jeering.
Gathered outside the dive bar were a handful of cigarette-smoking white people, looking like an aging biker gang in their T-shirts, jeans and bandannas, motorcycles parked nearby. Hurling the insults were 47-year-old Dean Schmitz, in a white button-down and thick silver chain, and his 40-year-old ex-girlfriend Molly Flaherty, clad in black, drink in hand. “Look at that boy dressed as a girl, tucking his dick in!” hooted Schmitz, clutching two beer bottles freshly fetched from his Blazer, as CeCe and her friends slowed to a stop. “You niggers need to go back to Africa!”
Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald stepped in front of her friends, a familiar autopilot kicking in, shunting fury and fear to a distant place while her mouth went into motion. “Excuse me. We are people, and you need to respect us,” CeCe began in her lisping delivery, one acrylic-nailed finger in the air, her curtain of orange microbraids swaying. With her caramel skin, angled jaw and square chin, friends called her “CeCe” for her resemblance to the singer Ciara; even her antagonist Flaherty would later describe CeCe as “really pretty.” “We’re just trying to walk to the store,” CeCe continued, raising her voice over the blare of Schmitz and Flaherty’s free-associating invective: “bitches with dicks,” “faggot-lovers,” “niggers,” “rapists.” The commotion was drawing more patrons out of the bar – including a six-foot-eight, 310-pound biker in leather chaps – and CeCe’s boyfriend, Larry Thomas, nervously called to Schmitz, “Enjoy your night, man – just leave us alone.” CeCe and her friends turned to go. Then Flaherty glanced at Schmitz and laughed.
“I’ll take all of you bitches on!” Flaherty hollered, and smashed CeCe in the side of her face with a glass tumbler.
Just like that, a mundane walk to the store turned into a street brawl, in a near-farcical clash of stereotypes. Pandemonium erupted as CeCe and Flaherty seized each other by the hair; the bikers swung fists and hurled beer bottles, hollering “beat that faggot ass!”; and CeCe’s friends flailed purses and cracked their studded belts as whips. When the two sides separated, panting and disoriented, Flaherty was curled up amid the broken glass screaming, mistakenly, that she’d been knifed, and CeCe stood over her, her T-shirt drenched with her own blood. Touching her cheek, CeCe felt a shock of pain as her finger entered the open wound where Flaherty’s glass had punctured her salivary gland. Purse still over her shoulder, CeCe fast-walked from the scene. She’d made it more than a half-block away when she heard her friends calling, “Watch your back!”