Passing of beloved Tampa Bay drag queen spurs fight against silicone procedures, memorial fund

By : Alexis Vilaboy
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(Photo by Erika Wagner Artistry, from Tanisha Cassadine’s Facebook page.)

TAMPA – In the month since Tanisha Cassadine died due to complications from silicone injections, almost $600 has been raised toward the memorial fund in her honor.

“Tanisha wasn’t just an employee at Hamburger Mary’s,” says Kurt King, who owns multiple franchises of the restaurant. “She was loved all over the United States. She is the Cassadine. Her name was everything.”

The fund, called The Divine Cassadine Transition Scholarship, was created by a close friend of the late entertainer, Taliyah Cassadine, in an effort to “help someone transition the right way and healthy way, but it will also aid in getting silicone injections removed,” according to the fund’s online page. The money raised will be given away each year at the Black Trans Advocacy Award Gala.

In 2013, 10,000 augmentations were performed by specialists in the U.S. To save money, many transgender women will get enhancements such as silicone injections on the black market.

Show director and promoter at Hamburger Mary’s Desiree DeMornay told WTSP News in Tampa, “You’re throwing dice. You could make it or you could not. It just depends on how your body reacts.”

DeMornay, who has been on the receiving end of illegal silicone injections, now preaches against the illegal practice to the transgender community.

“When a biological woman goes and gets plastic surgery, they may charge her $50,000, but when we go it’s like $125,000,” DeMornay told WTSP. “So it’s not convenient.”

Although this practice is quite common among the transgender community, a quick internet search reveals just how many of these under-the-table quick fixes go wrong and how the desire for a more womanly figure can lead to botched procedures and even death.

“With all the girls that work for me, we discussed it and everyone has promised to stop doing it,” King says of the 40-plus drag queens who work for him. “They’re not licensed. They’re not doctors. They’re not nurses.”

Along with discouraging all the women he knows from getting sketchy procedures, King contacted the FBI and the Florida Department of Health in the hopes of stopping the person responsible for Cassadine’s fatal procedure.

“They came out and took a report,” King says of the Florida Department of Health. “I gave the health department the name of the person who gave her the silicone. They’re investigating that and trying to stop her from doing that again.”

The FBI has not gotten back to King.

“She was an amazing friend,” King says of the dearly missed drag queen. “We became really close and did a lot of pageants together. We competed against each other and helped each other along the way.”

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