Remembering Tatiana Labelle, Chicago Trans Woman Loved by Many

Tatiana Labelle, a 33-year-old Black transgender woman, was a Chicago native who was loved by her friends and family. She was a fan of Mariah Carey and Patti Labelle. On March 18, 2022, Labelle was found dead in Chicago (trigger warning: this link contains mention of graphic violence). Although details are currently unclear, her death has been ruled a homicide and detectives are continuing to investigate. Labelle’s death is at least the 7th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2022. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported. In 2021, despite limitations in reporting, HRC officially recorded the largest number of fatal trans violence incidents for a second consecutive year since we began tracking this violence in 2013.

“Tatiana’s death is horrific and represents a complete disregard for her life. May her memory never be forgotten. Chicago’s trans community is already mourning the loss of Elise Malary, a local trans activist. It’s hard being Black and trans in America due to the enormous stigma against our community. We must all work to uplift Black, Brown, trans and non-binary people, and dismantle the systems of oppression that continue to threaten our lives.”

Tori Cooper, Human Rights Campaign Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative

In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Tatiana was misgendered in some media and police reports. Anti-transgender stigma is exacerbated by callous or disrespectful treatment by some in the media, law enforcement and elected offices. According to HRC research, it is estimated that approximately three-quarters of all known victims were misgendered by the media and/or by law enforcement. In the pursuit of greater accuracy and respect, HRC offers guidelines for journalists and others who report on transgender people. HRC, Media Matters and the Trans Journalists Association have also partnered on an FAQ for reporters writing about anti-trans violence.

At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Illinois are explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Illinois does include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics in its hate crimes law. Though we have recently seen some political gains that support and affirm transgender people, we have also faced anti-LGBTQ+ attacks at many levels of government this year. As of this writing, more than 270 anti-LGBTQ+ bills are under consideration in state legislatures across the country, more than 110 of which directly target transgender people.

We must demand better from our elected officials and reject harmful anti-transgender legislation at the local, state and federal levels, while also considering every possible way to make ending this violence a reality. It is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, especially Black transgender women. The intersections of racism, transphobia, sexism, biphobia and homophobia conspire to deprive them of necessities to live and thrive, so we must all work together to cultivate acceptance, reject hate and end stigma for everyone in the trans and gender non-conforming community.

More resources:

  • Learn more about the fatal violence cases that HRC is tracking where details are unclear. You may find a list of these cases here.

  • Watch this PSA campaign elevating stories of trans joy and love.

  • Join HRC's CountMeIn campaign to take action for transgender and non-binary people.

  • Read these guidelines and this FAQ for journalists to ensure greater accuracy and respect in reporting.

Topics:
Transgender