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Friends, Family Believe Transgender Woman Found Shot To Death In East Chatham Was Killed In Hate Crime

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A transgender woman was shot and killed in East Chatham on Christmas Day, and her family and friends spoke out Monday only to CBS 2.

They told CBS 2's Tara Molina her homicide is a possible hate crime.

She was listed as a John Doe, but Courtney "Eshay" Key's family said she had been misgendered – and on top of everything, it is an insult to her and her memory.

Key, 25, was described by family and friends as the life of the party – hilarious and determined.

"She wanted to be something," said lifelong friend Beverly Ross. "She wanted to beat the odds."

Family and friends also have a problem with how Key has been described elsewhere.

"We are human. We are real," Ross said. "We're tired of Chicago police misgendering trans people; gender non-conforming people."

A trans woman, Key has been identified as both a man and a John Doe.

"They're dehumanizing our character," Ross said.

We asked Chicago Police about that and we were told, again, the victim is listed as a male. We were also told Area Two detectives are still investigating the homicide.

Around 8:35 pm. Christmas Day night, police found Key's body on the south side of 82nd Street near Drexel Avenue. She was pronounced dead on the scene, police.

At first, Key was believed to be the victim of a hit-and-run crash. But police later found she had suffered gunshot wounds.

With only her family identifying her right now as they make funeral arrangements, we're told there is an important reason why they had to speak out.

"I believe Eshay was targeted," Ross said. "We need to get to the bottom of this because Black trans lives matter. We are not going anywhere."

According to the CPD, detectives late Monday continued to investigate Key's death as a homicide - but police wouldn't comment on the family's belief that this was a targeted hate crime.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's office hasn't responded to our requests for more information.

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