Who was Elise Malary? Black transgender activist, 31, found dead in Lake Michigan
Elise Malary a founding board member of the Andersonville-based Chicago Therapy Collective, which strives to reduce LGBTQ health disparities
LGBTQ advocate Elise Malary has been found dead in Lake Michigan near Evanston, Illinois, a neighborhood north of Chicago, police said. According to Evanston police, officials responded to Garden Park in the 500 block of Sheridan Square to discover the body of Malary, a Black transgender activist. Her body has been taken to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy.
Malary, 31, was reported missing on March 11. She had last spoken to her family two days prior to her disappearance, and police discovered her car before they located her body. On Thursday, March 17, police pulled out her body from Lake Michigan. A cause of death has not been identified yet. Police had previously said that they did not suspect foul play.
Malary's sister, Fabiana Malary, said that he was glad so many people helped search for her. "I’m just so overjoyed that my sister has so many people that love her,” she reportedly said. “I want people to know that Black trans lives matter, my sister’s life matters, and I’m gonna do whatever it takes.”
Who was Elise Malary?
Malary studied at the University of Illinois Chicago, and volunteered with organizations like 'Proud To Run Chicago'. She was a founding board member of the Andersonville-based Chicago Therapy Collective, which strives to reduce LGBTQ health disparities through education, therapy, advocacy and the arts. She also worked at Illinois Attorney General's Office, her LinkedIn profile states.
She had woked a Communications Associate at Equality Illinois. As per her profile, she "authored and designed monthly e-blast newsletters to 60,000 stakeholders through the CRM Database EveryAction", "collaborated with Director of Communication on content for e-blast newsletters in alignment with communication strategies and strategic framework", and "designed eye-catching visual communications and memes through utilizing design platforms including Cavna which led to increased engagement" at Equality Illinois. She had also worked as Sales Development Representative at Chicago Reader.
In a statement on Instagram, the Chicago Therapy Collective wrote, "Community, we are heartbroken- the reports that Elise Malary was found dead are true. While many of you are anxious to know more, additional information is not available at this time. We ask you to respect the privacy of Elise’s family and loved ones." It added, "The outpouring of love, care, and community response reflects the deep impact of Elise’s love and advocacy on so many of us. We hope that you are taking tender care of one another. If you need support, please reach out to us."
Back in 2019, Malary had rallied around Andersonville bookstore Women and Children First when anti-trans stickers were put on the store’s front windows. She is set to receive a Transgender Visibility Award at the upcoming Chicago Trans Visibility Pageant organized by Life is Work, which is a Black- and Brown-, trans-led social services agency on the West Side.
The Evanston Police Department continues to investigate Malary's death. They have urged anyone with information to contact the Evanston Police Detective Bureau at 847-866-5040, or text tips to 274637 if the message starts with “EPDTIP.”