Black Trans Woman T.T. Murdered In Chicago, Is At Least the 20th Trans Person Murdered In 2016

As if playing some kind of gross cosmic joke, exactly one month after the last article I wrote like this, another Black trans woman, this one named T.T., has been murdered. She was found dead on Sunday night in Garfield Park in Chicago. While we don’t know the exact number and almost certainly never will, we know that she is at least the 20th trans person murdered this year, most of them being Black and Brown trans women. My heart, and the hearts of all of us at Autostraddle, are broken. We are crying for T.T. and we are crying for her friends and family. This never gets easier, as Angelica Ross said in the Emmy-Nominated Her Story; we do get stronger, though. But sometimes, like right now, it seems like we’re not getting strong enough fast enough. It seems like we never will.

There’s not a lot of information about who T.T. was, but her friend Jaliyah, who organized a vigil for her, said she was 26 or 27 and described her as “a lovely person” who was “laughing all the time.”

“You could be going through a bad day, but once you saw T.T., she was such a happy cheerful person all that changed,” she said of her friend. She also said that the two of them had been incarcerated together and that T.T. had helped her make it through that ordeal. According to Jaliyah, T.T. wanted to be a hair stylist.

The details, the few that we have right now, are grim and make this case even more horrifying. I don’t want to go into details about how she was murdered, you can read those details elsewhere. Trans women, and in particular, trans women of color and specifically Black Trans women face disgusting rates of violence, and it’s often disgustingly brutal. Those rates grow even more when these women live at the intersections of poverty, sex work or even just sleeping with men.

T.T.’s friend Jaliyah told the Windy City Times that “people don’t know what we go though out here. They don’t see the struggle being transgender on the West Side. It’s crazy. I just want justice for my friend. Trans lives matter. She is the third person killed around here and there is nothing done about it.”

The other two people she’s referring to are Paige Clay and Tiffany Gooden, two other Black trans women who were murdered in this area in 2012. Jaliyah says she fears that her friend’s case will be ignored, just like those women’s were. T.T. has already been misgendered by local police and media. So often the murders of trans women, especially Black and Brown trans women, go unsolved. It’s exhausting to live as a trans woman and it’s exhausting to die as one. We never get to rest. We’re always fighting to be seen, be recognized and be respected. But it’s a battle many of us lose.

This week has been exceedingly hard for trans women. Trans comedian Jordan Wieleba, absolute legend Lady Chablis and actress Alexis Arquette have all died in a very short span, and now there’s this murder. It’s a horrible period to end the horrible sentence that has been this week. Rest in peace and power, Jordan, Lady Chablis, Alexis and T.T.

This list of murdered trans people, just in America, just in 2016 is already far, far too long, and now we’re adding T.T. to it. Who knows who will be next.

Monica Loera, 43

Jasmine Sierra, 52

Kayden Clarke, 24

Veronica Banks Cano, 40

Maya Young, 25

Demarkis Stansberry, 30

Kedarie/Kandicee Johnson, 16

Kourtney Yochum, 32

Shante Thompson, 34

Keyonna Blakeney, 22

Reecey Walker, 32

Mercedes Successful, 32

Amos Beede, 38

Goddess Diamond, 20

Dee Dee Dodds, 22

Dee Whigham, 25

Skye Mockabee, 26

Erykah Tijerina, 36

Rae’Lynn Thomas, 28

T.T., 26 or 27

You can donate to TT’s funeral GoFundMe here.


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Mey is a bisxual Latina trans woman living in Los Angeles. Her areas of expertise include comic books, witches, trans issues and pop culture. She has an English Degree, a cat named Sawyer, a twitter that she uses a lot and a tumblr that she only uses occasionally.

Mey has written 444 articles for us.

10 Comments

  1. Thumb up 10

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    I love you, Mey. Your strength is beyond words. Thank you for continuing to report on this pandemic of violence. I know it breaks your heart all over again, every time. We’ll keep fighting together, I promise you. We will never stop fighting.

    • Thumb up 12

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      Okay, I’m going to take a deep breath here. I like to be all about love and understanding, and giving people the benefit of the doubt…but at this moment, you are very much striking me as absolutely being “that person,” who comes along and says something extremely rude and unquestionably uncalled for.

      Yes, of course the LGBT hate crime murder of Danielle Smith, 27, and her mother is obviously a horrendous tragedy. But was this really the place to throw what seems worded as thinly veiled shade at Autostraddle’s staff? You did not so much as express a word of condolence or sympathy or sadness at the murder of T.T. as if somehow she mattered less than Danielle, before your comment. If what you are truly looking for is coverage of the Missouri murders, perhaps just be direct, and send a pm to Riese or any other staff member. This was not the place. Not the place.
      Trans women, especially those of color, are murdered at such an ugly and ferocious rate, year after year, that articles about their life and death deserve at the very least, our undivided attention. Better than the very least, they call and cry our for our service, for our action, and for our resolve to be an active part of educating ourselves and others, in the hopes we might join together and with our love, intelligence, and power, bring real change to this untenable situation. T.T and her friends and family will absolutely remain in my thoughts, as will the other murdered trans women and their families.

      • Thumb up 2

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        Nah, don’t assign intention to my words that isn’t there. Putting words into my mouth isn’t cool. Neither is being condescending.
        This is the first piece about an LGBTQ murder since before Danielle Smith’s so yes, I think it’s a good time to mention that hers was overlooked. Nobody’s fault, really–it received pretty much zero attention across the board, be it from regular news or gay news, probably for lots of reasons. But Danielle Smith’s horrific death also deserves acknowledgement. I’m a person of color so I get that the idea of there being added layers but I still think Danielle deserves acknowledgement and I’m not really sorry about it. It’s not like AS only has a certain number of spots to talk about deaths. And again, it wasn’t a criticism, just pointing out that this murder happened…awhile ago.
        Let’s not make this into an argument. That’s pretty unfair to the dead.

        • Thumb up 1

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          I also want to point out that this is a news article, ultimately, and not a eulogy or this woman’s funeral, or a first person narrative about her, etc. It’s reporting her death. So, again, I’m not cool with being labeled as disrespectful for casuallY letting everyone know another LGBTQ hate crime murder happened a few weeks ago.

          • Thumb up 6

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            No. Suzette was right. You could have informed any of the editors either through submitting a story idea or a private message. You immediately made this topic about something else, as if didn’t matter. When confronted, you have defended yourself and bristled, which only worsens your behavior. Just stop… and leave the space. Please.

    • Thumb up 6

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      K’idazq’eni, I don’t think this was the best way to bring up the (at the time) lack of Autostraddle coverage of the murder in Missouri. I have certainly also felt at times like AS has failed to report hate crimes against queer women, or I have wished there was a full article rather than just a link in the daily news or whatever.

      However, a big part of why AS is “good” at quickly reporting murders of trans women is because they happen so often. Secondly, it is often necessary to have a separate article since every other media source will misgender the victim, dead name, not mention she is trans, or do some other horrible injustice to her memory.

      Deep, deep condolences to the friends and family of both victims.

  2. Thumb up 3

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    Is there any wonder why the Trans community has such little trust in law enforcement? They can’t even be bothered most of the time to get the identity of the victim right. I hope some day, when this is in the past, that a more thorough history can be compiled to help future citizens understand the depth and breath of the systemic oppression and violence that especially Trans / gender non-conforming individuals often live under.

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