Trans Woman Murdered in Chicago on September 11 UPDATED

Trans Woman Murdered Chicago
T.T. photo via Windy City Times

Updated with T.T.’s full name.

T.T. Saffore was 27 years old, according to her friends quoted in a Windy City Times story covering this crime. She was a hair stylist, enjoyed being around children and a support for other trans women in her neighborhood. She had family support.

She is also the 20th known trans person to be murdered in the US this year. T.T.’s body was found on September 11 with her throat slashed and a knife nearby in the Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago. Misgendering and use of her dead name by the police and media delayed notification.

From the Windy City Times:

According to the Chicago Police Department and subsequent reports by the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune, a body was discovered in the 4500 block of West Monroe Street. The throat had been cut and a knife found nearby.

Jaliyah Armstrong was an organizer of a vigil that was held for T.T. at the corner of Monroe and Kenton in Garfield Park Monday evening. It was attended by about 30 community members, who came to remember their friend. They hung balloons, lit candles and left a sign at the site where T.T.’s body was found.

T.T.’s murder remains unsolved and there is little information available on the investigation.

“Three days before [her death] she got into an altercation with a [trans] woman on Madison,” Armstrong said. “The girl pulled a knife on her and said ‘I’m going to get you killed.'”

Armstrong said T.T. did not report the incident to the Chicago Police Department (CPD). There is a constant fear of abuse from CPD officers from the trans women who live on the West Side.

“People don’t know what we go though out here,” Armstrong said. “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.”

Yesterday afternoon, some neighbors were on Facebook discussing how imperative it is to call the police when we experience or witness criminal behavior. A third individual was resisting that, emphasizing that not everyone will or should call the police. This was over something pretty minor, but I was disappointed that the lessons of #BlackLivesMatter aren’t translating into neighborhood level conversations by mostly white folks about the police. There wasn’t even a consciousness of systemic reasons people might not make that call, much less an effort to address it. It was sad (again, a minor issue) until I read about T.T.’s death late last night – then it was heartbreaking for me.

Jaliyah Armstrong lays it out “People don’t know what we go through out here.” We refuse to see, we don’t internalize and examine the experiences our trans neighbors share with us and that leads to even more death.

T.T.’s friends brought this story to the Windy City Times. And the paper investigated, publishing several updates throughout the day. That’s the journalism we need to ensure fair and accurate coverage. The mainstream media is not up to the task of meeting that standard.

What are you doing to try to understand the experiences of your trans neighbors? What are you doing to support them? How are you changing the world to better celebrate and acknowledge their lives rather than simply grieving their untimely violent deaths?

Here is the growing list of neighbors lost in 2016. Please take a moment to say their names.

Rest in power, T.T. Your friends brought your story to the community, both the story of your life and your death. We will remember and honor both.

Erykah Tijerina

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