A West Side transgender woman, T.T. Saffore, was found murdered in Chicago's West Garfield Park neighborhood the evening of Sept. 11, 2016.
According to the Chicago Police Department and subsequent reports by the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune, the body was discovered in the 4500 block of West Monroe Street. The throat had been cut and a knife was found nearby.
[Story updated Sept. 13, 8 p.m.]
Saffore's death makes her the 20th known U.S. transgender individual killed in 2016.
Jaliyah Armstrong was an organizer of a Sept. 12 vigil that was held for Saffore at the corner of Monroe and Kenton in Garfield Park. It was attended by about 30 community members, who came to remember their friend. They hung balloons, lit candles and left a sign at the site where T.T.'s body was found.
She had been a friend of Saffore for the past seven years.
"T.T. was a lovely person," Armstrong told Windy City Times. "She was laughing all the time. You could be going through a bad day but once you saw [T.T.], she was such a happy cheerful person all that changed."
Saffore's older brother Jermaine Saffore said that the 27-year-old was "a good person who would help anyone."
"[She] always had your back," Jermaine added. "[She] wouldn't harm or mess with nobody."
Armstrong added that she and Saffore were incarcerated together.
"It was my first time being incarcerated and she helped me through that," Armstrong said. "She was just a beautiful person."
According to Jermaine, Saffore was the "baby of the family."
She had a sister and two brothers. Their father passed away some time ago."
"T.T. was a great gymnast," Jermaine said. "[She] was on a gymnastics team and she would go out to the park and do flips."
He added that Saffore was also an extremely talented hairstylist.
"Three days before [her death] she got into an altercation with a [trans] woman on Madison," Armstrong said. "The girl pulled a knife on her and said 'I'm going to get you killed.'"
Armstrong said Saffore did not report the incident to the Chicago Police Department (CPD).
There is a constant fear of abuse by CPD officers towards the trans women who live on the West Side.
"People don't know what we go though out here," Armstrong said. "They don't see the struggle being transgender on the West Side. It's crazy. I just want justice for my friend. Trans lives matter. She is the third person killed around here and there is nothing done about it."
The 2012 murders of transgender women Paige Clay and Tiffany Gooden in the West Side neighborhood of Austin remain unsolved cases.
Windy City Times conducted an investigation into those murders in 2014 and found a connection between the two women and the arrest and subsequent incarceration of Eisha Love following an altercation with an alleged gang member.
Love was held in the Cook County jail for nearly four years without a trial. She was released in December 2015.
"I think T.T. is going to get swept under the rug," Armstrong said, adding that she believed the CPD needed to at least question the woman who allegedly threatened Saffore.
"This has hurt us pretty bad," Jermaine said. "My father raised us to protect each other at all times. It hurts to find out that [she] suffered like this. I hope the person that did this turns themselves in so that our family can have some closure."
CPD and then reports in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times misgendered Saffore as a male even though she was well known within the West Side transgender community.
"I think the media did that on purpose," Armstrong said. "They could not say 'transgender woman.' That was just disrespectful of her life."
"At the end of the day, I supported [her]," Jermaine recalled. "I always said 'be careful because it could be dangerous to be doing what you are doing.' But family means everything."
"I will always remember her as a happy person," Armstrong said. "I will always remember her smile."
The family will be launching a GoFundMe shortly to assist with funeral expenses.
In 2015, Windy City Times published an investigation as to why transgender individuals who are the victims of a violent crime are often misgendered by police departments and the media.
See here to help the family with funeral costs: www.gofundme.com/27gse2ak .
See www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/19th-transgender-murder-raises-questions-about-reporting-/52755.html .