Black Trans Woman Tatiana Labelle Murdered in Chicago

Tatiana “Tee Tee” Labelle photo via Facebook

On Friday, March 18, 2022, the body of Tatiana “Tee Tee” Labelle was discovered after she had been listed as missing for five days in her Chicago hometown. Police are describing her death as a murder investigation after an autopsy on Saturday.

Tatiana Labelle, 33, was last seen on the 700 block of East 84th St. in Chicago, IL on March 13, 2022. Her family and friends searched for her. Her body was discovered around 12:45 p.m. in an alley in the 8400 block of South Ingleside Avenue in the Chatham neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.

Born and raised in Chicago, she loved Mariah Carey and Patti LaBelle. Her social media feed is filled with family photos of her siblings, mother, and niblings. Their posts during the time she was missing and now reflect how very deeply they loved and care about her. I do not yet know much about her day to day life and there are not yet any details on final arrangements.

Please note that some of the links and social media content deadnames and misgenders Tatiana.

A horrifying photo allegedly of her body in a dumpster has been circulating on social media. The original poster admonished people to check on their trans friends and family because she was unidentified at that point. I don’t know if the photo is legitimate and I’m not going to post it. But I do bring it up because the comments reflect important points on how we react to violence targeting trans folx. Some were just hateful, but others were more upset about the image than the life and death of the woman involved. Of course it is a difficult and perhaps salacious image, but it is also reality. Of course it is upsetting to her family and friends, but not as much as her actual death. We need to have the proper conversations around these moments, not get tangled up in antiquated proprieties that obscure terror and hate.

I’ve written countless memorial posts about victims tossed aside like trash or literally with the trash after their death. But I’ve written many more posts about how we demean and diminish trans folx in their lives, treating them like debris or casualties of our own choices. I’m especially noting how articles about both Tatiana and Elise are appearing in rapid succession with reports on ‘protests’ of out trans woman swimmer Lia Thomas. I connect the dots instantly – if we deny the womanhood of Lia Thomas as an ‘unfair advantage’ because she was assigned male at birth (AMAB), it is easier to erase the actual humanity of Lia, Tatiana, Elise, and others. Those who are drawing a line between out trans student athletes living their best lives and the violent terror campaign targeting trans folks are part of the problem – there’s no line there. Denying people their actual identity, whether that’s via a Facebook comment or a public statement to a school board or at the ballot box is not different than murdering people. If you read the comments on these topics, you will see my point made over and over again – very much an ‘othering’ that suggests if trans folx just don’t try to do things like go to school, participate in soccer, or walk down the street, they are permitted to exist.

That’s what should wreck us, not the sharing of this reality. It is certainly the least disrespectful thing to happen to Tatiana this weekend. If you don’t understand that. I can’t help you. But I will push back against your ignorance and denial of reality.

Tatiana’s murder comes on the same day as the Chicago trans community is reeling from the March 11 disappearance and subsequent death of Black trans activist, Elise Malary. Police and family have not specified a cause of death for Malary, but describe her state of mind in the days preceding her disappearance as atypical for her. Elise was 31. When and if more information is available, we will update our readers.

Tatiana is the seventh transgender person reported as a victim of fatal violence in 2022. Tee Tee is the fourth Black trans woman and the fifth woman of color from these neighbors. At age 33, she is the oldest victim this year thus far, the others are all under 30. Their deaths come on the heels of 2021, the most violent year in recorded history with the deaths of 57 trans, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people in the United States alone. Note that the tabulation includes a significant number of reports of folx murdered in 2021. This might be confusing. Of course it is confusing. I tried to sort it out below.

Rest in power, Tatiana. Your life was too short and your death hurts. I am so sorry we failed to keep you safe. I hope your name inspires us to resist transphobia and misogynoir in our everyday lives rather than simply continue to grieve and grieve endlessly. May you find peace and joy wherever you are. You deserved better from all of us.

May your memory be a revolution.

This is our list of transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming neighbors who have been victims of the campaign of terror in 2022. Please do not copy or share this list without attribution.  As of today, we have documented a total of 57 deaths in 2021. And we have listed at least seven victims of the terror campaign in 2022 as well.

As six additions to our 2021 list have been revealed in 2022, I am adding them in a separate list below to try and make any sense of this increasing horror. These folks deserve their lives and deaths to be honored and remembered. The complexity only underscores their realities.

  1. Amäriey Lèį (Myara) – Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. January 1, 2022. Age 20. 
  2. Duval Princess – Jacksonville, Florida. January 2, 2022. Age 24.
  3. Naomie Skinner – Detroit, Michigan, February 12, 2022. Age 25.
  4. Cypress Ramos – Lubbock, Texas, February 13, 2022. Age 21.
  5. Paloma Velasquez – Houston, Texas, February 26, 2022. Age 29.
  6. Matthew Spampinato – New Castle, Delaware, February 9, 2022. Age 21.
  7. Tatiana LaBelle – Chicago, Illinois, March 18, 2022. Age 33.

Deaths in 2021 (see this link for deaths reported during the 2021 calendar year) These are deaths reported in 2022 and beyond.

  • 52 Za’Niyah Williams – Houston, Texas. December 20, 2021, reported on Jan 5, 2022. Age 21.
  • 53 Nikki Turrietta – Albuquerque, New Mexico, December 31, 2021, reported on January 27, 2022. Age 31.
  • 54 Keeva Scatter – Baton Rouge, Louisiana, October 15, 2021, confirmed on February 13, 2022. Age 34.
  • 55 Rubi Dominguez – Brownsville, Texas, July 15, 2021, confirmed on February 13, 2022. Age 29.
  • 56 Martina Caldera – Houston, Texas, December 6, 2021. Age 38.
  • 57 Geri Judd – Bossier, Louisiana, September 28, 2021, confirmed March 1, 2022. Age 60.


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