(Left to Right- Top row: Koko Nia Labeija, Calandrea Carmichael; Bottom row: Nancy Brown, Kim Ramirez, Benji Palmer)
As we wrap up this year’s Transgender Awareness Week and Transgender Day of Remembrance, we would like to work towards seeing the number of unidentified people on the TDOR list going down instead of up. This past year, we were able to assist in several cases directly via our LAMMP database and tireless hours of research on the part of our staff. Going forward, we would like to make a call for members of the LGBTQ community to reach out to us if you know of anyone from our community who has gone missing. It does not matter if it is someone who has been missing for decades or someone who is recently missing – we will look for them. Additionally, we would like to reiterate to anyone working in human identification: If you come across a case in your jurisdiction and you have reason to suspect that the individual may have been LGBTQ+, please reach out to us and allow us to assist. Let’s do everything we can do see a smaller number on next year’s “Name Unknown” list.
Koko Nia Labeija
Koko Labeija was found as an unidentified deceased person in an abandoned building in Chicago on June 6, 2020 and was misgendered by authorities. TDTF worked in conjunction with TDOR.translivesmatter.info to get her listed properly as an unidentified person and clarified some unclear information in the original documents. As a result of that collaboration, one of her chosen family members was able to find the information available about the Doe case. They were then able to contact the medical examiner’s office to confirm her identity in April 2021.
Kim Ramirez died March 28, 2021 in New York after being found unresponsive at a bus shelter. Her identity was not able to be confirmed until June 2021 when staff from TDTF and TDOR.translivesmatter.info became involved. We were able to communicate with the medical examiner’s office to make sure she was officially identified.
Nancy Brown was a queer woman who was reported missing by her family in Texas. She had been living in Evergreen Park, Illinois and was attempting to return home to her family. A friend had purchased a train ticket for her, but Nancy never arrived to pick up the ticket. TDTF researchers were able to locate her as an unclaimed deceased person in Chicago on October 1, 2021. We assisted her family in communicating with authorities in Illinois to be able to claim her remains and bring her home. (note: GoFundMe donations are no longer requested but updates from the family are posted there)
We were contacted on October 10, 2021 to help locate the next of kin for a lovely Trans woman, Calandrea Carmichael who passed away the day before in Georgia. We were able to make contact with the local coroner and facilitate communications to ensure that Calandrea did not become an unclaimed person. The person who contacted us found Calandrea’s brother, and the family was notified.
Benji Palmer was found unresponsive in his residence on January 9, 2021 and later died, and has been listed as unclaimed since then. Benji was seeking asylum in the United States and the Massachusetts Medical Examiner’s Office was unable to locate next of kin from whom they have been estranged. On November 15, 2021 TDTF was able to locate Benji’s chosen family and location of unmarked interment and provide a space for those who loved Benji to remember them.