Chicago: a Case Study

Welcome to Chicago, a city that offers “Boystown” (now Northalsted) and Andersonville as its primary hubs of queer community

A 2018 report done by the city of Chicago found that 7.5% of its residents over age 18 are queer. The report also found multiple health disparities between its cishet residents and its LGBTQ+ populace. 

For example, the report states that “transgender and gender non-conforming adults are less likely to report good overall health and far more likely to report psychological distress than their cisgender peers.” 

While one can walk through many neighborhoods in any warm month and spot other gay individuals or couples, and while one could witness trans people celebrating during Chicago Pride, the city still presents very tangible dangers, especially notable for trans women of color.

Photo by Chait Goli on

Labelle Was Literally Disposable to Them

The recent death of Elise Mallory, beloved 31-year-old transgender rights activist and board member of the Chicago Therapy Collective, has called some attention to the everyday dangers Black trans women face. 

Mallory’s death was ruled a drowning, with no evidence of physical trauma at the time of death, yet within 24 hours of Malary’s death, a second trans Black woman was also found dead in Chicago: Tatiana Labelle. 

Labelle, 33, was the seventh trans person to be violently killed in the U.S. this year. She was found fatally beaten and her body discarded in a dumpster on the Southside of Chicago, in the Chatham neighborhood. Reported missing five days earlier, Labelle was discovered by city waste collectors. 

“Trans women in general, especially Black trans women, are treated as disposable in this society, and it is nauseating to think about what happened to Tee Tee,” Iggy Ladden, the director of the Chicago Therapy Collective, told PEOPLE

Photo by Anete Lusina on

“Black women in general, certainly Black trans women, go missing and there is not enough done. There are not enough police resources. There is not enough community response or political power weighing in.”

Historically, these numbers have gone underreported or misreported, failing to communicate the gravity of this dire matter. 

Last year, these fatalities reached a record high. And of the 57 trans and gender non-confirming individuals killed in 2021, 60 percent identified as Black and 16 percent as Latinx, a clear indication of d8isparate outcomes. Their lives are commemorated by the Advocate in a virtual photo gallery.

So far this year, 18 transgender individuals have been violently killed. That’s an average of three people a month, nearly one killing per week. Their lives are commemorated by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in a separate gallery.

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