A Thing That Happened
I wrote this a couple of days ago and published it on facebook, where it wasn’t likely to be seen by anyone outside of my social circle. I’m super nervous publishing it here, but here goes:
Last year, I had an idea for a book entitled Catharsis: Trans Women’s Stories of Sexual Violence. There were a lot of reasons this was something I wanted to make happen. Here’s what I put in the call for submissions:
“The perception that trans women are less often targets of sexual violence is incredibly pervasive, even among allies to the trans community. This erroneous assumption is deeply rooted in cissexism, transphobia, and transmisogyny. While sexual violence affects many communities and is often taboo or “invisible” in those communities, trans women’s experiences are uniquely derided and ignored. This results in the isolation of trans women survivors, a culture of silence within broader trans communities, and a false pretense for the exclusion of trans women from feminist conversations about rape and assault. The purpose of this collection is to give voice to and encourage dialog around the specific reality of sexual violence against trans women. “
I still think all of this is true and valid. My biggest motivation, though, was a need to tell my own story. I wanted other people to tell theirs along with me so that I wouldn’t feel so vulnerable. Ultimately, there weren’t enough submissions to make the project feasible. My thanks go out to the few women who were brave enough to participate. No hard feelings to anyone who couldn’t (or just didn’t want to or whatever) do it. At least one person flat out told me they wouldn’t even read a book like that and I couldn’t blame them either. This shit is hard.
So Catharsis never came to be and I guess that’s okay. I never really explained what happened. I hope people understand. But anyway I still have this story that I need to share. I don’t know why, really. I honestly hadn’t thought about it in a long time. Until yesterday. Yesterday something happened that I don’t want to talk about. Suffice it to say I had a serious flashback to that night and now I can’t get it out my head. I’m hoping that putting it out into the world will not just help me, but maybe someone else. I don’t know who and I’m really sorry if this makes you upset.
***Trigger Warning for Real***
It happened about 3 years ago. I think it was Memorial Day or the Fourth of July or Cinco de Mayo; one of the spring/early summer party days where you celebrate war by getting drunk. I was living in Oakland and spending the evening at home drinking whiskey alone. It was nice out. I think it was one of the first nice nights in a while and I was standing on my back porch listening to the various parties happen around the neighborhood.
The most immediate celebration was right next door. Our back porch was higher than the fence that separated the properties, so I could see in and wish a happy whatever-it-was to the people who were back there. Two Latino families shared the house and they occasionally put people up when they needed a place to stay for a while. There was this dude that I’d never seen before and he started talking to me over the fence.
My Spanish isn’t great and his English was worse, but we did a pretty decent job of communicating. I sat on the porch, yelling pleasantries back and forth with him and smoking. Eventually, my friend who was staying with me came home and joined me. The dude next door asked me if my friend was my novio. I should have said yes, but I wasn’t even thinking about it. The dude invited us to join him and, since he was nice and it seemed safe with all the people dancing inside, we decided to go.
We sat and talked for hours. My whiskey ran out and so we drank beer. I did my best to translate for both of them. We had a good time. It was getting really late when the beer ran out, but we were all enjoying ourselves and it was a holiday. My friend said he was okay to drive if we wanted to pile into his car and try to find someplace that was still selling alcohol. There were a couple of possibilities. The dude got in the back seat behind me. We drove off in search of an open corner store.
Unfortunately, everywhere that was usually open late was closed. We went all over town, but eventually we had to admit defeat and head home. On the way there, the dude in the backseat started rubbing my arm. I didn’t really know what he was doing at first. I thought he was just drunk and out of it. He wasn’t. He was groping me on purpose. He started whispering stuff to me about how I was pretty. I froze. I wasn’t really freaked out, but I was definitely uncomfortable and unsure about what to do. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it because I thought it would hurt his feelings. I didn’t want to be a jerk, I just wanted him to stop. My friend didn’t notice what was going on.
We got back to the dude’s house and I should have bolted. Instead, I went back into his yard with the two of them. He went inside to try see if there was any beer hidden away. The party was still raging, so there was a good chance. This was another moment where I could have done something. I could have left. I could have told my friend what happened. I could have at least asked him not to leave without me. I didn’t do any of those things, though. Instead, I tried to convince myself to calm down, that it wasn’t a big deal.
The dude came back outside with a couple fistfuls of beer for us. We sat around drinking it for a bit. My friend declared that he needed to pee and he walked around the side of the house. The dude leaned over, told me I was pretty again, and kissed me. I kissed him back. I didn’t want to, but I didn’t know what else to do. I was still more worried about his feelings than I was about mine. I was also pretty drunk and having a really hard time thinking clearly. I just didn’t want to ruin the night or make anyone uncomfortable. I can deal with it, I said to myself, he’s not a bad guy. My friend came back and the dude broke away. We went back to hanging out and talking like nothing happened.
Then, my friend said he was tired and ready to head to bed. I said I was going with him, but the dude begged me to stay. I told him I had work in the morning, that I had to go. He kept asking for 5 more minutes. He was pleading. I felt bad. I still didn’t want to hurt his feelings. We were talking in Spanish, so my friend didn’t know what we were saying. I think he had picked up that there was something going on, but maybe that I was more into it than I was. I was just trying to walk away feeling like I hadn’t been mean to anyone. I finally said I would stay. My friend left.
As soon as he was gone, the dude was making out with me again. I was totally freaked, but at this point felt more obligated to make him happy than before. I’d known this would happen if I stayed and I’d done it anyway. I was officially leading him on. I felt like I was doing it in more ways than one because I didn’t know if he had figured out I was trans. He took my hand and lead me over to the corner of the yard under the deck. I told him again that I should go, that I had work. He kept pleading. I stayed.
Now that we were standing up, our height difference was way more apparent. I was maybe a foot and a half (or more) taller than him. That was part of why I stayed. I felt like there was no way for this dude to physically make me do anything I didn’t want to. It was probably the truth. Maybe not. In any case, I was already doing a bunch of stuff I didn’t want to without anyone having to be physically coercive.
He put his hands on my shoulder and started pulling me down. I thought he was trying to bring our faces closer together and I leaned over to be obliging. He kept pushing and I realized he wanted me to get on my knees. He started asking me to suck his dick. For some reason, him asking (rather than telling) made it harder to say “no.” The way he was begging for it was almost childlike and he kept telling me I was pretty. I repeated that I should go and that I had to work in the morning. He begged harder and I gave into it. I just kept telling myself it wasn’t a big deal. I was also really drunk and really scared and really unsure about what to do. I wanted whatever was happening to be over.
I started sucking his dick and he grabbed me by the hair. He bucked his hips into my face really hard. It was totally disorienting, like being punched. He was grunting and humping and kept telling me that he wanted to fuck me. That freaked me out more than anything. I had no idea if he knew I was trans and, if he didn’t, how he might react to finding out that the girl sucking his dick had one of her own. Panic was filling me up inside, but I stayed where I was and kept hoping it would be over soon. I could have walked away at any point. I could have said “fuck you!” and left.
He started reaching for my ass, but he wasn’t really tall enough so he was just clawing my back. I started gagging on his dick and finally broke away from him. I said “no, I have to go. I have work in the morning.” He was pleading with me to stay and frantically jerking himself off. I told him no. I told him I had to go. The fear that he was going to find out I was trans and try to hurt me was the only thing keeping me from staying. I was still really scared of hurting his feelings or making him upset. He took my hand and put it down his pants so I could finish him off. I let him.
I don’t really remember leaving. I think he walked me to the gate and made me promise to see him again. I told him whatever he wanted to hear except that I would stay and let him fuck me. He walked back into his yard and I made my way up to my house. I couldn’t really feel anything. Emotionally or physically. My housemate was home from wherever she’d been and standing in the kitchen with some guy. They were drunk and loud and greeted me cheerily. Her face dropped as I walked into the room, though. “Are you okay?” she asked urgently. “What happened to your face?”
I walked through the kitchen to the bathroom at the back of the house. I looked in the mirror. My face was covered in blood. It was coming from my nose. There was also a lot in my mouth, too. I was torn between being numb and being totally freaked out. I repeated to myself, “please don’t let any of it be his please don’t let any of it be his please don’t let any of it be his…” It seemed totally reasonable that he might have cut himself on my tooth without realizing it. There was nothing I could do either way, so I just washed it off and went into my room without talking to anyone. That’s all I remember. I don’t really have any analysis or closure or whatever to offer. I’m sorry.
CeCe McDonald Address info
CeCe McDonald’s address will remain the same up until sentencing (June 4th), at which time she will likely be transferred. You can write to her and send her books and magazines at:
Public Safety Facility
Chrishaun Reed McDonald #2012000296
401 South 4th Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Please show support for CeCe!
Catharsis: Trans Women’s Stories of Sexual Violence CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
Call For Submissions 4/3/12 **Please Share & Repost!**
Catharsis: Trans Women’s Stories of Sexual Violence is seeking written submissions from trans women who are willing to share their experiences of sexual violence and assault. The goal is to create a book-length collection of personal essays and stories from trans women about their individual experiences. Through compiling these stories, we hope to counteract the tendency of broader feminist dialog to deal with the subject of violence against trans women as hypothetical, ethereal, and comparatively minimal. We also hope that such a compilation would reinforce the place of trans women among all women and help to bring support and healing to our often overlooked communities.
DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS IS JULY 31ST, 2012! For Submission Form Please go to: http://catharsisproject.wufoo.com/forms/catharsis-submission-form/
FOR OFFLINE SUBMISSIONS: contact Red Durkin at email@example.com for mailing address
What We’re Looking For: Stories of personal experience from self-identified trans women who are survivors of rape, sexual assault, or other sexual violence. Submissions should be roughly 2-5 pages in length and focus primarily on individual experiences and feelings. Because every individual processes these experiences in different ways, the “tone” of the collection will be left to the contributors. Anger, humor, grief, healing, indifference, etc. are all welcome themes. Those wishing to remain anonymous will have that wish respected and not be named in the final publication. Anonymity will be granted to the degree at which it’s requested, so please make your needs clear with your submissions.
Why Trans Women Only? The perception that trans women are less often targets of sexual violence is incredibly pervasive, even among allies to the trans community. This erroneous assumption is deeply rooted in cissexism, transphobia, and transmisogyny. While sexual violence affects many communities and is often taboo or “invisible” in those communities, trans women’s experiences are uniquely derided and ignored. This results in the isolation of trans women survivors, a culture of silence within broader trans communities, and a false pretense for the exclusion of trans women from feminist conversations about rape and assault. The purpose of this collection is to give voice to and encourage dialog around the specific reality of sexual violence against trans women. We are interested in work by trans women of all backgrounds, regardless of transition status, race, class, education, ability, age, orientation, or occupation. Any survivor of sexual violence that self-identifies as a trans woman is encouraged to contribute. To send submit your story, go to: http://catharsisproject.wufoo.com/forms/catharsis-submission-form/
Anyone wishing to assist this project is encouraged to **forward this call for submissions widely.**
If you want to help further or have any questions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org