Missing Trans Woman Found Fatally Beaten in Chicago Garbage Bin: 'There Is Not Enough Community Response'
The body of a transgender woman was found in a trash can in the East Chatham neighborhood of Chicago just days after her family reported her missing.
A witness discovered the remains of 33-year-old Tatiana Labelle, known as Tee Tee to her loved ones, in an alley around noon on March 18. Her family had reported her missing five days earlier, WLS-TV reported.
According to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office, Labelle died from "multiple injuries due to assault."
"It is heartbreaking for someone to beat her to death and throw her in the trash like she was garbage," her sister Shameika Thomas told WLS-TV. "I loved my sister, whether she was transgender or not, and I would like for me and my family to have justice."
A resident of East Chatham who was present told WLS-TV that Labelle's body was discovered "after the garbage people pulled it up and the garbage flipped over, and everything fell out."
No suspects have been taken into custody.
"Everyone is reeling," Jessica Veltstra, a board member with the non-profit Trans Doe Task Force, told PEOPLE. "There is a lot of fear. I know that keeping attention on her is going to make it much more likely her case will be solved, and her family will get a measure of justice for this."
"If anyone has any information on her murder, they should please contact the police immediately," Veltstra added. "This person does not need to be on the street. The family needs justice."
Labelle's death was the seventh confirmed murder of a trans person in the U.S. this year, Iggy Ladden, the director of the Chicago Therapy Collective, told PEOPLE.
"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," Ladden said. "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."
According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 57 transgender or gender non-conforming people were murdered in 2021.
"While the details of these cases differ, it is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color — particularly Black transgender women — and that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and unchecked access to guns conspire to deprive them of employment, housing, healthcare and other necessities," the campaign said.
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Labelle's death comes just days after prominent Black trans gender activist Elise Malary was found dead in Evanston, a suburb of Chicago.
Her cause and manner of death are pending.