Response to The Transgender Crucible

It’s easy to see the overbearing pro-trans attitude when reading The Transgender Crucible. The article exposes injustice that befell CeCe McDonald in addition to talking about her harsh upbringing that is typical of transwomen, especially African-American transwomen. The author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, uses the word “folk-hero” to describe CeCe in the trans community. It’s no question that CeCe faced injustice throughout her life and moreover from her attack, but Erdely portrays CeCe’s story as if it were a folk story because of how she describes CeCe’s attack and her suffering after the fact.

Erdely’s account of CeCe’s attack is extremely detailed, using quotes and other events to portay CeCe as the victim and Schmitz as a monster. She describes Smitz and his friends as “a handful of cigarette-smoking white people, looking like an aging biker gang” in order to portray them as morally corrupt. She describes Schmitz as having veins “pounding with cocaine and meth” with a “lengthy rap sheet” and a “four-inch swastika tattoo.” When she describes Schmitz’s pursuit of CeCe, she depicts a very intense scene: “They squared off for a tense moment: the furious white guy, amped up on meth, Nazi tattoo across his belly; the terrified black trans woman with a cartoon pony on her T-shirt; the scissors between them.” Erdely uses every chance she gets to portray Schmitz’s morally corrupt behavior and contrasts that with CeCe’s sparkling innocence. The scene of CeCe and Schmitz standing off sounds like it came from a movie scene where Schmitz is the attacking monster and CeCe is the helpless victim. This is not to say that this wan not the case, but Erdely most definitely heightens the good-versus-evil situation. Furthermore, Erdely uses lots of quotes from the attack, which brings up the question of their legitimacy. No one else was there watching Schmitz’s death besides CeCe to know what they said to each other during the attack. CeCe could know what they said but given that this was an attack in real life, it is not likely that they had profound time to insult each other and make sterling threats, nor is it likely that CeCe would remember them so well. Erdely also includes insults and slurs Schmitz and his friends supposedly said before the attack, which further brings up the question of how she knows exactly what was said. She uses statistics throughout her article about the likeliness of transwomen to be attacked and face other types of oppression, but she nevers cites where she is getting this information in the first place.

Finally, Erdely expresses outrage at CeCe’s court sentence when in reality it is sympathetic. Though CeCe was in self-defense, killing someone is killing someone. It does not matter that CeCe was a transwoman; if a man or woman is attacked in the same manner and killed someone in the manner that CeCe did, they would most cetainly deserve to serve jail time. There were other ways in which CeCe could have defended herself. A person can’t kill another person without any sort of repercussion. It seems like Erdely and other supporters of CeCe think that she should not have any sort of consequence for killing another human being, whether it be in self-defence or not. CeCe’s original jail sentence was ridiculous; there’s no questioning that. However, it is easy to see that the court does their very best to give CeCe the benefit of the doubt. Erdely does not mention that being sentence to 41-months in prison is the minimum sentence for second-degree manslaughter. What CeCe did as a fact was second-degree manslaughter. The court recognized the misfortune in CeCe’s situation and gave her the best possible result. In addition, CeCe was released early for good behavior. It is clear as day to see that her court sentence was the least harsh it could be. Perhaps instead of questioning the court’s prejudice against CeCe and black transwomen, Erdely and other CeCe supporters should question the unbiased law itself.

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