Recent deaths of 2 trans women in Chicago solemn ‘reminders’ on Trans Day of Visibility

In categories including budgeting and safety, LGBTQ leaders with Brave Space Alliance and Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation gave the mayor’s and the sheriff’s efforts on protecting trans rights an “F.”

SHARE Recent deaths of 2 trans women in Chicago solemn ‘reminders’ on Trans Day of Visibility
Jae Rice, of Brave Space Alliance, speaks Thursday afternoon during a rally on Trans Day of Visibility in Daley Plaza.

Jae Rice, of Brave Space Alliance, speaks Thursday afternoon during a rally on Trans Day of Visibility in Daley Plaza.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Trans Day of Visibility is intended to be a celebration, but this year, Jae Rice of Brave Space Alliance said there is nothing to celebrate in Chicago after two trans women were found dead in the city within days of each other.

“So this may be a celebration for some, but for Black trans people, for other trans people of color, this day is a day of reminders,” Rice said. “It is a day to remind Black trans people we do not matter to this city.”

Dozens gathered in Daley Plaza on Thursday to hear Rice and other leaders from Brave Space Alliance and Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation — SOUL — present the city with a report card on Trans Rights.

Dozens gather Thursday afternoon for a rally on Trans Day of Visibility in Daley Plaza.

Dozens gather Thursday afternoon for a rally on Trans Day of Visibility in Daley Plaza.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

“This city and the people running it are failing us,” Ab Weeks of SOUL said at Thursday’s rally. “Since one year ago today, more trans people have been murdered in Chicago than any other U.S. city. In this city, we are not safe.”

Earlier this month, Tatiana “Tee Tee” Whetstone was found beaten to death in a trash can in Chatham. Her death was ruled a homicide. Whetstone has also been identified by some media as Tatiana Labelle.

Just a day later, a woman found dead along the lakefront in Evanston was identified as a transgender advocate and activist Elise Malary, 31.

Alexis Martinez worked closely with Malary at the Chicago Therapy Collective, a group committed to supporting the trans community and addressing social factors impacting mental health in the trans community.

“We lost this beautiful jewel,” Martinez said. “We gather again to lament our losses, we gather again to cry out for justice. We call for healing and feel the tears well up inside of us. And even as we go through the healing process, in the back of our minds is — when is the next one gonna fall.”

Alberto Williams, 25, of Roseland, holds a sign that reads, “Stop killing my Black trans brothers and sisters” during a rally Thursday afternoon on Trans Day of Visibility in Daley Plaza.

Alberto Williams, 25, of Roseland, holds a sign that reads, “Stop killing my Black trans brothers and sisters” during a rally Thursday afternoon on Trans Day of Visibility in Daley Plaza.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Alberto Williams came out to the rally to stand with fellow members of the trans community.

Williams held up a stop sign that read, “Stop killing my black trans brothers and sisters.”

As a student at Chicago State University, living on the South Side, Williams said there are little to no resources for LGBTQ and trans folks living in the community.

“The South Side is not safe for us unfortunately but the North Side is also not safe,” Williams said.

Organizers asked that those looking to support the trans community on Trans Day of Visibility make a donation to the Brave Space Alliance, a group run for and by trans people of color.

Sharah Hutson, of Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation, gets emotional while discussing the deaths of Tatiana “Tee Tee” Whetstone and Elise Malary during a rally Thursday afternoon on Trans Day of Visibility in Daley Plaza.

Sharah Hutson, of Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation, gets emotional while discussing the deaths of Tatiana “Tee Tee” Whetstone and Elise Malary during a rally Thursday afternoon on Trans Day of Visibility in Daley Plaza.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Activists present the city with a “Report Card on Trans Rights” during a rally Thursday afternoon in Daley Plaza.

Activists present the city with a “Report Card on Trans Rights” during a rally Thursday afternoon in Daley Plaza.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Stephanie Skora, of Brave Space Alliance, speaks during a rally Thursday afternoon on Trans Day of Visibility in Daley Plaza.

Stephanie Skora, of Brave Space Alliance, speaks during a rally Thursday afternoon on Trans Day of Visibility in Daley Plaza.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Ab Weeks, of Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation, speaks during a rally Thursday afternoon on Trans Day of Visibility in Daley Plaza.

Ab Weeks, of Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation, speaks during a rally Thursday afternoon on Trans Day of Visibility in Daley Plaza.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

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