When Tiffany Gooden was killed in August 2012, she was only 19 years old. Almost a decade later, her murder remains unsolvedbut there's more to her than the details of her death, according to her friends and family, who remember her as being both smart and courageous.
Gooden is well-loved by her mother, who spoke with Windy City Times in 2012, asking to be identified as "Mary." At that time, she told WCT that Gooden graduated at the top of her class in a three-month educational program.
"I was so proud," Mary said. "But what with peer pressure and neighborhood pressure, the streets were calling."
Eisha Love, Gooden's friend, said that Gooden stayed to herself on "the stroll," where trans women on the West Side of Chicago gathered. But Love also said that Gooden's personality stood out.
"Despite what people thought of her, and the experiences and lifestyle she had to live, she still carried on stuff in a way where it was like: 'I'm me," she said. "(She faced) the fact that others may look and judge, but she still held her head high."
Love also said that Gooden was brave, and would stand up for girls who were in danger.
"We was always out, having fun, trying to hype each other up just to keep going for the night, because we knew going out was really dangerous," Love recalled. "She had a fun, courageous personality."
Love and Gooden had each other's backs. They typically spent time together after nights of working. One night, a group of men tried to attack them, and Love hit one of the attackers with her car as she fled. When Love went to the police, she was arrested with charges of aggravated battery, and later, first-degree attempted murder.
After that, Love was cut off from Gooden. Later that year, Gooden was found dead. Four months before Gooden's murder, another trans woman from the West Side, Paige Clay, was killed.
Mary told WCT that, at that point, Gooden was frightened, and she began to only go out on the stroll when the sun began to rise in the morning.
Gooden also told her aunt of plans to return to school. She wanted to help out and support her family, who were coping with the death of her grandmother.
Mary said she and Gooden spent time together on a Saturday morning, just like they usually did. But just after midnight that Sunday, Gooden suddenly left the house. Realizing something was amiss, Mary began searching for her and filed a missing person's report on August 14, she heard the news of her murder.
"I just remember (her) smile," she said. "After that, I never seen my child again."
Windy City Times made many attempts to contact friends and family members of Tiffany Gooden, but understands we could not reach everyone. Those who can speak to her memoryor know of someone else who cancan email email@example.com .
See the Trans Omnibus Project introduction page for links to other stories in this series: