TAMPA - The day after Tanisha Cassadine got illegal silicone injections, she fell deathly ill.
Two of her closest friends, Hamburger Mary’s franchise owner Kurt King, and entertainer Delores Van-Cartier were at the hospital when Cassadine took her last breath.
King said Cassadine was sick with pneumonia from an arduous travel schedule. But, said the injections were too much for her body to handle.
“Silicone needs to stop,” King told friends and family gathered at Hamburger Mary’s in Clearwater. “That person took Tanisha from us way too early. It's not worth losing other people. If I find out anybody does any injection you are not working for me, please stop.”
King said he called the Federal Bureau of Investigations to report the woman who Cassadine said performed the illegal injections. So far, he said no one from the FBI has called him back.
“Tanisha doesn't have a voice anymore,” Van-Cartier said. “The people who have been hurt and damaged they are the ones who need to speak out.”
Van-Cartier said getting silicone injections on the black market is a cheaper and faster alternative for drag queens to shape their bodies the way they want them before pageants. She said Cassadine has been doing it for decades.
Friends say the injections Cassadine had done on March 11 were to touch up her body for another pageant. She died five days later.
“She had the injections done in her buttock area and hips to correct some things,” Van-Cartier said.
We asked Van-Cartier why people get the injections if they know it could killed them. She said being transgender comes with a lot of physical and mental issues that are difficult to overcome.
“The day to day pressure trying to be real, trying to pass for normal, as a woman,” Van-Cartier said.
A friend of Cassadine’s, Taliyah Cassadine, who said Cassadine was her adopted mother started a group to try and help raise awareness about the dangers of illegal injections. Taliyah said she lost both breasts in 2015 to a botched surgery.
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“As soon as he (doctor) opened me up he told me it smelled like rotting flesh and rubber,” Taliyah said.
Taliyah said she also got injections to conform to what she thought she needed to look like and to avoid paying higher fees for surgeries.
“I end up going to people in my community that can give me that quick fix,” Taliyah said. “So I can be the person I want to see in the mirror.”
King said he has more than 40 drag queens. Out of those he estimates 90 percent have gotten illegal injections. He said Cassadine was a beautiful soul, a wonderful entertainer. He doesn’t want her death to be in vain. He hopes her story will help someone else thinking about getting illegal silicone injections to change their mind.
“They are beautiful on the inside and they are beautiful on the outside and they don't need to do it,” King said.