Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Transgender Woman of Color Murdered in Chicago

Paige Clay, transgender woman shot to death in Chicago (Brian Turner photo)

Chicago, Illinois – A young transgender woman of color was found shot in the head in the West Garfield Park area of Chicago.  Paige Clay, 23, was found dead in an alley in the early morning hours of April 16, according to the Windy City Times.  No one has been arrested in connection with her murder.  Police are still actively investigating the brutal shooting.

Members of the Chicago LGBTQ support community and participants in the Chicago Ball scene who knew and loved Ms. Clay identified the body for authorities. Mina Ross, Ms. Clay’s “ball mother” deeply mourns her protegé’s passing.  Ms. Ross describes Ms. Clay as “rambunctious,” beautiful, hard to get to know at first, but a strongly loyal friend to those who took the time to get behind Ms. Clay’s self-protective exterior.  Ms. Ross told reporters that Ms. Clay was just beginning to find herself. “She grew into a beautiful, beautiful young woman,” Ms. Ross said. “I was so devastated by this [loss] .”

Ms. Clay was becoming a significant presence on the Chicago Ball scene, where her runway work, her innovative sense of style and fashion, and her charismatic persona were winning her friends and winning competitions.  She had even begun to win out-of-state competitions, according to Ms. Ross.  But she was also targeted by discrimination and violence according to her friends, as are so many transgender women of color in the Windy City and around the nation.

She had grown up in tough circumstances with little family support.  At an early age, Ms. Clay had found LGBTQ support services, and was a well-known client for many years. In recent years, she had found steady jobs with McDonald’s and Wendy’s restaurants, as well as Fashion 21. She had managed to secure her own apartment, a matter of considerable pride for her. Most importantly, she had attracted a large queer family of choice, one that is coming to her defense in the press, and clamoring for police action to solve her savage murder. Since few family members remained in touch with Ms. Clay, friends and ball scene associates stepped in to stand vigil over her memory while officials searched for next-of-kin to receive her remains.  Funeral arrangements are pending.

The Center on Halsted, where Ms. Clay had become a familiar presence through the years, issued a statement to the press concerning her murder, according to the Examiner.  Chief Executive Officer of the Center, Modesto Tico Valle, said, “Though we do not have all the details, this news is extremely disturbing, especially as severe violence against transgender women is all too common. Transgender women face some of the highest rates of violence and abuse in our nation. This is the third reported murder of a transgender woman in the U.S. in April alone. We must work together to create more safety in our world for all people, especially those most targeted.” 

A “Justice for Paige” Facebook site has been opened for the express purpose of gathering information on the murder, and to insure that “ANOTHER ONE OF OURS JUST WON’ T BE SWEPT UNDER THE RUG,” as the site creators say.

April 23, 2012 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Center on Halsted, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Illinois, LGBTQ, transgender persons, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Transgender Woman of Color Murdered in Chicago


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