Chicago Mourns Death of Transgender Advocate Elise Malary [Video]

Courtesy of Ted Eytan (Flickr CC0)

Mourners gathered in Chicago’s neighborhood Andersonville to pay homage to transgender activist Elise Malary. They gathered to remember the 31-year-old who was a respected advocate of the Evanston LGBTQ community. Friends, neighbors, and strangers joined together at the candlelight vigil to honor the transgender woman on Sunday evening, reports NBC News. A march started outside the independent bookstore Women & Children First and ended outside the Chicago Waldorf School.

They celebrated Malary with a fire ceremony. People left memories using chalk on the bookstore’s brick wall. “Black trans women deserve more. RIP Elise,” emblazoned the wall alongside other messages including one that talked about Malary’s soft voice, sharp tongue, and her forever love. Another note spoke of the transgender woman’s smile and big heart.

“We’re here to start a healing process. Elise Malary was a very special person in this neighborhood, and all of us have a story about her,” Alexis Martinez, one of Malary’s friends told Jake Wittich journalist for Block Club Chicago.

Courtesy of Medill DC (Flickr CC0)

She worked as a Community Outreach Specialist at the Chicago Therapy Collective. The organization strives to create safe, just, and inclusive Chicago neighborhoods for Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming (T/GNC) individuals and communities,” reads the blurb on Google search.

Malary worked faithfully for Black transgender lives, including her own, recalled a Collective therapist and director Iggy Ladden. The young woman tackled the negatives in life using a positive attitude to overcome hardness and cruelty. She chose to look for the good in everyone, give them the benefit of the doubt, compassion, and lifted them up.

Her friends celebrated her dedication to making the world a better place. They promised to continue working on her behalf to honor her memory.

Marlay was identified on Saturday as the Black woman the fire department recovered from the Lake Michigan shoreline and transported to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. She was reported missing nine days earlier by a family member, according to CNN. Her family indicated they had not heard from her two days before calling the police. Malary’s manner and cause of death remain under investigation by the medical examiner.

The Chicago Therapy Collective is accepting donations to benefit Malary’s family.

Written by Cathy Milne-Ware


Block Club Chicago: Hundreds Honor Trans Activist Elise Malary In Andersonville Vigil: ‘Elise Faced Hardness And Chose Kindness;’ Jake Wittich
CNN: Body of woman found in Lake Michigan identified as missing transgender rights advocate; by Caroline Kucera and Alaa Elassar
NBC News: ‘She Chose Compassion:’ Evanston Activist Elise Malary Remembered at Vigil; by Vi Nguyen

Featured and Top Image by Jean Song Courtesy of Medill DC’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Ted Eytan’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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