EVANSTON — A woman who was found dead along the lakefront in Evanston on Thursday has been identified as missing LGBTQ advocate Elise Malary, police said Saturday.
Malary, 31, was reported missing by her family last week. Her sister, Fabiana Malary, said Elise Malary stopped responding to texts and calls March 9.
Evanston Police responded to a report of a woman’s body in the water 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Garden Park in 500 block of Sheridan Square. Police confirmed Saturday the woman was identified as Malary. Police previously said there were no signs of foul play in Malary’s disappearance.
Angelina Nordstrom, one of Malary’s close friends, previously told Block Club she was a “fierce advocate” for the transgender community and worked for years to serve its needs.
Malary was a founding board member of the Andersonville-based Chicago Therapy Collective, which aims to alleviate LGBTQ health disparities through education, therapy, advocacy and the arts. She’s also worked as a communications associate for Equality Illinois and interned for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, according to her LinkedIn.
The Chicago Therapy Collective released a statement on its Instagram Saturday confirming Malary’s death.
“The outpouring of love, care and community response reflects the deep impact of Elise’s love and advocacy on so many of us,” the collective wrote. “We hope that you are taking tender care of one another. If you need support, please reach out to us.”
Malary was among several organizers who rallied around Andersonville bookstore Women and Children First in 2019 when anti-trans stickers were put on the store’s front windows for weeks. The Chicago Therapy Collective was the bookstore’s upstairs neighbor.
“We’re drawing trans-affirmative art all over the sidewalk just to show everyone that Andersonville is trans-welcoming, trans-inclusive and trans-safe,” Elise Malary told ABC7.
Elise Malary was also one of several people who will receive a Transgender Visibility Award at the upcoming Chicago Trans Visibility Pageant organized by Life is Work, a Black- and Brown-, trans-led social services agency on the West Side.
“Elise didn’t go into big detail with me about how she’s been pioneering in the LGBTQ community, but I’ve heard from a lot of her friends that she’s been a big advocate,” her sister Fabiana Malary previously told Block Club. “She’s worked for so many community outreach organizations, and I’m so proud of my sister for being a big advocate in the community.”
The Evanston Police Department said it’s continuing to investigate Malary’s death. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Evanston Police Detective Bureau at 847-866-5040. Tips can also be texted to 274637 if the message starts with “EPDTIP.”
Organizers with the Chicago Therapy Collective said they will share information about a community vigil for Elise Malary soon.
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
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