CHICAGO (WLS) -- If it wasn't for LaSaia Wade, many transgender and gender non-conforming people of color wouldn't have a place to turn to for help in Chicago.
"I promised myself that I would at least have one resource for anyone that comes in the space that I am in and I have kept that promise," said LaSaia Wade, the founder and executive director of Brave Space Alliance.
Brave Space Alliance is the first Black and transgender-led LGBTQ+ center on the South Side. The center provides a variety of services including support groups, employment help and a food pantry.
"There was no place that is dedicated for trans or gender non-conforming people to center themselves, to be their authentic selves," she said.
Tatyana Moaton is a board member for Brave Space Alliance. She said Wade works around the clock.
"She answers the call when people call her," Moaton said.
Wade knows the struggles for familial and societal acceptance as a transgender person. She became an activist after her college friend was killed in 2010.
"They found her on the side of the road wrapped up in saran wrap with her hands tied behind her back. And in that moment, I knew that trans people could not live authentically," she said.
Violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people is on the rise. The Human Rights Campaign recorded 44 deaths in 2020, more than any year since tracking began in 2013. Black and Latinx transgender women are most often the targets.
"They are killed because of someone else's ignorance," Wade said.
Two transgender women were killed nearly two weeks apart in Chicago. And they were friends, Tyianna Alexander and Courtney Eshay Key. Key was killed on Christmas Day. Alexander in January.
The police tape is still up near 75th and Halsted where Lacrisha Alexander's daughter, Tyianna, spent her last few moments alive.
"I want everyone to know she was a lovable person. She was happy," she said.
Wade said her community is struggling to survive. And only a few seem to care.
"We need comrades. And the reason why I say we need comrades, I need to know that you're beside me. And when someone attacks me, you're there to help me," she said.
For more information about Brave Space Alliance, click here https://www.bravespacealliance.org/ or call (872) 333-5199.
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