Orange is the New Black star producing documentary about Minneapolis trans woman CeCe McDonald

CeCe McDonald's supporters at a pre-trial "dance for justice" rally in April 2012.
CeCe McDonald's supporters at a pre-trial "dance for justice" rally in April 2012.
Jayme Halbritter

When CeCe McDonald was charged with two counts of second-degree murder for stabbing Dean Schmitz, the case drew national attention.

McDonald was the victim of a hate crime, her supporters argued. Some of them saw themselves in McDonald, a 23-year-old transgender woman: "This could have been any of us," one friend told City Pages at the time.

Laverne Cox, best known for her starring turn as Sophia Burset on the Netflix hit Orange is the New Black, was one of them. Now, Cox, along with co-producer Jacqueline Gares, are making a documentary, FREE CeCe!, about McDonald's story.

See Also:
- COVER: The Edge of Doubt: When a transgender woman stabs a man tattooed with a swastika, how will justice be served?
- CeCe McDonald to serve out sentence in male prison

"But for the grace of God I could be CeCe McDonald," says Cox on the documentary's website. "CeCe's case represents a long list of instances of violence against transgender women who are disproportionately women of color."

After McDonald pled guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree manslaughter, she was sentenced to 41 months in state prison. A month later, the Minnesota Department of Corrections determined that McDonald would serve out her time at the all-male facility in St. Cloud.

Cox, who is herself transgender, visited McDonald at the prison for an in-person interview.

"I was struck by CeCe's sense of hope and faith," Cox told online magazine Persephone. She also noted, "I wanted to... 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."

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