More questions than answers in silicone pumping death
by Victoria A. Brownworth
Feb 17, 2011 | 3795 views | 2 2 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Claudia Aderotimi came to Philadelphia from London on Feb. 6 on a quest for a sexier body, but will return home in a body bag.

The 20-year-old British-Ghanian woman died after an illegal pumping procedure at the Hampton Inn hotel near the Philadelphia Airport on Feb. 7 went fatally wrong. An aspiring singer and hip-hop dancer in London’s Hackney neighborhood, Aderotimi had come to Philadelphia for a buttocks-enhancement procedure with several friends, one of whom had the procedure as well. She was, said friends, “looking for a bigger booty” to help her get gigs in hip-hop honey videos.

Aderotimi and her companion, whose name is being withheld by police, came to Philadelphia for a similar procedure in November 2010, but neither woman had ill effects at that time.

According to Lt. John Walker of the Philadelphia Police Department’s Southwest Detective Division, who is handling the investigation, the procedure the women had is illegal here and in the United Kingdom. Walker said that buttocks-enhancement surgery is only approved by the Food and Drug Administration when sealed silicone implants or fat injections are used.

The FDA confirmed that silicone injections have been illegal for over 40 years. The injections are considered excessively dangerous because silicone migrates through the body and can easily move into the bloodstream or collect in the lungs and heart, causing pulmonary failure and/or cardiac arrest.

Aderotimi’s procedure was done by injecting industrial silicone directly into her buttocks. This silicone is similar to sealants used in tub and window caulking. The injection site is then sealed with Super Glue. This procedure is increasingly common at transgender “pumping parties.”

The cause of death is pending autopsy results, which will take at least six weeks.

Aderotimi’s companion, who had the buttocks and a hip enhancement, was hospitalized, but has experienced no ill effects at this time, police said. She is cooperating in the investigation.

Walker said that until the autopsy results are in, “legally speaking, no crime had been committed since we only have a death at this time. Should the autopsy results prove that [silicone injection] was the cause of death, then we would be looking at charges, including a possible murder charge.”

At the very least, the death of Aderotimi, if proven to be caused by the injections, would result in an involuntary manslaughter charge, which carries a 10-year sentence.

The person likely to be charged with her death is being investigated, but has not yet been located by police nor come forward.

Police identified a person of interest: Padge Victoria Windslowe of Ardmore, a self-described Goth hip-hop singer known as “Black Madam.” Windslowe is reportedly a transwoman who is well-known within the African-American transgender community. Windslowe has also been described on Internet sites as “an injections doctor” and “transgender doctor.”

There are no indications that Windslowe has any medical training or certifications.

“We want to speak to her and give her a chance to speak to us,” Walker said. “If she performed the injection,” as sources told police, “she will be a person we need to talk to.”

Another transwoman from the exclusive Saddle River, N.J., community allegedly arranged the procedures with Windslowe at the Hampton Inn for the women via the Internet. The woman allegedly had similar procedures performed by Windslowe since 2008. Saddle River police have questioned the woman, whose name is being withheld, but declined to comment to PGN.

Walker told PGN that the woman has spoken with police and discussed numerous aspects of the case and has “been cooperating with us, fully.” Police have not charged her at this time.

According to the police timeline, the procedures on Aderotimi and her companion were completed at approximately 1:30 p.m. Feb. 7. An hour later, Aderotimi began complaining of chest pains and then began having difficulty breathing. Three hours after the procedure, Aderotimi was rushed to the hospital. She was pronounced dead at 1:32 a.m. Feb. 8 of apparent cardiac arrest. Windslowe had already left the hotel by the time Aderotimi was hospitalized.

The investigation included a search warrant served on Windslowe’s residence. Walker said police were looking for “specific items,” including Super Glue, used to seal the injection site.

Walker said numerous items were found at Windslowe’s place that were “of interest and concern,” including “injectables and cosmetics” she allegedly sold online.

Illegal silicone injections into the buttocks, face, breasts and hips are increasingly common in the transgender community because health insurance does not cover such body-modification procedures.

Ron Powers, director of programs at Mazzoni Center, voiced his concerns over the illegal body-modification procedures.

“As a health-care organization, we don’t support or encourage do-it-yourself silicone injections or street hormones,” he said. “All kinds of complications can arise, and these procedures really must be medically managed.”

Sympathetic to the issues involved, however, Powers added, “Silicone injections [like Aderotimi had] may be more of an issue of body image rather than gender identity. Understanding that body image — whether transgender or cisgender — can mean someone feels so compelled to change something about their body, I can only advocate doing that in a medically controlled way.”

Powers noted that Mazzoni is “concerned about the specific dangers of using street hormones and street steroids” to enhance or alter the body by transgender persons, particularly youth, who are most likely to seek out illegal sources for body modification.

Powers urged transgender persons seeking transition help to come to the center, and reinforced that “Mazzoni’s medical care is available regardless of ability to pay or whether you have health insurance.”

Walker said that since the Aderotimi case has been in the news “we have been getting calls about similar situations from different people.” No deaths have been reported, he said, adding that Aderotimi was “absolutely not” transgender — but “there have been cases with other medical problems. It is of concern to us because these young ladies who seek out these procedures are doing so with unlicensed people and are experiencing medical problems as a result.”

Walker added, “The price of beauty is very huge and people take risks. Society demands beauty and itself is at fault. Everyone wants to be more attractive. And now this young lady is dead.”

Comments-icon Post a Comment
February 17, 2011
Cei is of course, correct about respecting a persons self identity - she may consider any "transness" to be merely part of her medical history - not her identity. And - in either case - the issue may have no bearing on a situation where the subjects are cisgender - as most women having these illicit procedures are.

As Mr. Powers notes - for trans people - much of the concern regarding unlicensed treatment is a consequence of lack of access to appropriate medical care. This lack of access has many causes - from poverty, to the lack of universal health care, to insurance providers having exclusion on trans related care (against the recommendations of the AMA), to (as noted in the recent Task Force Study) discrimination when seeking care in licensed medical settings.

There are, unfortunately, also media actors who like to sensationalize stories around trans peoples' medical care for their own political agendas. We never see them writing on any positive aspects of trans individuals or interacting with our community. We seem to represent some odd fixation for them that suggests deep unresolved issues that they might better work out in therapy than on our lives.

This quote is completely unsupported by evidence in the story and seems to reflect opinion:

"This procedure is increasingly common at transgender “pumping parties.”. I would like to see the author provide some metric for the claim that this is increasing - that pumping parties are only involving trans people- and provide a metric indicating the how may cisgender women receive such treatments. If the rate of increase (should there actually be a rate of increase) is no different - how is the rate a "trans issue"?

Or even some evidence that the majority of people who receive these treatments do so at "Pumping Parties". I'm sure it makes copy that comports with the authors prejudices - but - is that reporting?

Of course - the majority of women seeking these injections are cisgender. And - if someone has the funds to fly to another country, stay for some time & to pay for a procedure - might they not have enough to do so at home from a licensed provider? In these cases - are the access issues the same?

I've been around the community for going on over 35 years - I've not yet seen someone with legitimate employment at a decent wage use these types of treatments. That might be worth exploring in a story like this.

Cei Bell
February 17, 2011
Are the transgender women self-describing themselves as "transwomen" or is the word simply being applied to them. Many transgender women do not like being referred to as transwomen because they simply regard themselves as women. If you don't know how a transgender woman feels about the word then you shouldn't use it.