Keyshia BligeAge 33
7 Mar 2015
Aurora, Illinois (USA)
Shot and crashed
TDoR list ref: tgeu/7-Mar-2015/Keyshia Blige
Keyshia was shot in the shoulder while driving a friend through Aurora's South Side in the early hours of 7th March. She crashed the car and died at the scene.
Her murder was not reported as being that of a trans woman until 5 months later in August.
Even as people were gathering in 20 cities across the United States for the Aug. 25 Trans Liberation Tuesday event to stand up for and acknowledge the then-18 transgender women murdered in 2015, news stories began to break about an Aurora, Illinois, woman named Keyshia Blige. But the incident had not occurred earlier in the day, over the prior weekend or even during the month of August.
Blige was killed in the early hours of March 7. A statement from the Aurora Police Department reached WGN news which reported the incident that afternoon. The Aurora Beacon News—part of the Chicago Tribune Media Group—followed with a more detailed article March 24. The Aurora PD and both WGN and The Beacon News referred to Blige as a male and used her birth name. The Beacon News noted in their report that Blige had recently begun transitioning.
It was five-months later, on Aug. 23, when Elizabeth Marie Rivera—the creator of the Trans Social Butterfly Network—corrected both the Aurora PD and The Beacon News in a Facebook post.
Outrage followed as it became clear that Blige had been revictimized due to the failure of both the Aurora PD and the media to correctly report her gender and her name.
Her best friend Sasha Love told the Guardian that Blige identified as transgender and used female pronouns:
“She was the happiest I had ever seen her once she started transitioning,” Love recalled to the Guardian. Love said that Blige first began realizing her identity once they started performing in drag in the late-2010s. They had both been attracted to it not only because they liked to dress up, but because they had learned how to lip-synch while growing up in their church choir.
“When she would dress up, she would tell me ‘I love being Keyshia. I want to be Keyshia,” Love said. The two performed at weekly shows outside the city of Chicago, where Love was the host, too.
But Blige’s attitude changed on 24 June 2011 when she was the victim of a hate crime in a neighboring city, when four men attacked her for being gay – hitting her 30 times, he told police – and leaving her with nerve damage to the face. The four men were later convicted or pleaded guilty to the hate crime. All men were ordered to pay restitution, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“For a while she stopped doing shows because of the hate crime and she gained more weight,” Love told the Guardian. “She was more concerned with her weight and how she looks, and stopped dressing up.”
Late last year, after significant weight loss and renewed confidence, she started doing shows more and began coming out as transgender, Love said.
“At first when her family found out, they were like: Oh my god, what is [she] doing?” she said, “but I think once they realized that [Keyshia] is going to do what [Keyshia] is going to do, they got better. Her family they were coming around to the point where they were coming around”.
TvT project: The Chicago Tribune 24.03.2015 & The Guardian 26.08.2015
Keyshia's Facebook profile is https://www.facebook.com/keyshia.blige/.