24-year-old De'Janay Stanton was fatally shot Aug. 30, 2018. Credit: Provided/Chimura Griffin
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

SOUTH SHORE — A group of mothers raising awareness about the murders of transgender people across the United States is holding its fifth annual picnic since founder Valerie Griffin’s daughter was killed in 2018.

Known as “The Main Event,” the picnic is 4 p.m. Aug. 27 at Rainbow Beach, 2873 E. 75th St. It’s hosted by Mothers of Murdered Transpeople, a group Griffin founded after her daughter, De’Janay Stanton was murdered in 2018.

Families of transgender people killed in Chicago will participate in a balloon release while building community over food, games and other activities, said Chimura Griffin, who is helping her mother organize the event.

The group is raising money through a GoFundMe to support the event.

“We want to bring awareness and let people know that trans people are human and they still matter, no matter what society is trying to tell you,” Chimura Griffin said. “We’re letting people know that trans people are loved. They have families and people who care about them just like anybody else.”

Valerie Griffin founded Mothers of Murdered Transpeople and started the annual tradition after Stanton, then 24 years old, was killed Aug. 30, 2018, in the 4000 block of South Calumet Avenue in Bronzeville.

Tremen T. Hill, a then-17-year-old who was in a relationship with Stanton, was charged with first-degree murder in the killing, the Sun-Times later reported. Chimura Griffin said the case is ongoing, and Hill remains in jail with no bond. His next court date is Aug. 17, according to Cook County Sheriff’s Office records.

Since Stanton’s death, at least nine trans people have been killed in Chicago, including Unique Banks, who was killed in January, according to Them. At least 15 trans people have been murdered across the United States so far this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Chimura Griffin said Stanton, who would be turning 30 in October, was a “people person who came from love.”

“That’s all she wanted to spread: love,” Chimura Griffin said. “Even though she had her own trials and tribulations in life, she was still able to conquer and give love to people.”

Nylus Stanton died in a crash May 28, 2023. Credit: Provided/Chimura Griffin

Stanton had a larger-than-life personality, Chimura Griffin said. That’s why the family makes an effort to go all out every year in her memory.

“Everything she did, she did it big,” Chimura Griffin said. “She loved the long hair, flashy nails and big smile. So we knew if we did this event, we’d have to go big with it.”

The Main Event has a secondary special meaning this year, paying tribute to Stanton’s biggest supporter and favorite uncle, Nylus Stanton. He was killed in a crash May 28, Chimura Griffin said.

“He always supported her and since she’s been gone, he’s come to all the Mothers of Murdered Transpeople events to support [the group],” Chimura Griffin said. “He’s the one who used to grill all the food, set up the tents and things of that nature, so with him being gone, we’re missing a big part of Mothers of Murdered Transpeople.”

Chimura Griffin said she and her mom hope to grow Mothers of Murdered Transpeople into an organization with a brick-and-mortar resource center.

Families looking to connect or get involved can reach out through the organization’s Facebook page.

Help Block Club Get
500 More Subscribers!

Subscribe to Block Club now and you’ll get a free 16-by-20-inch Chicago neighborhood print of your choice, helping us reach our goal of getting 500 more subscribers before 2024. Click here to subscribe or click here to gift a subscription.

Listen to the Block Club Chicago podcast: