Mykell Hatcher-McLarin, a transgender man, said he feels he has a "target on my back" in Baltimore and could be attacked at any given moment.

"They are out to get me," said Hatcher-McLarin, 21. "We don't feel safe in Baltimore."

Ken Jiretsu, also transgender, says he doesn't feel safe whenever he leaves his home in the city.

"I have to watch where I am and determine if I'm in danger," said Jiretsu, 42. "People treat us like a second-class citizen."

Such sentiments are shared by many in Baltimore's transgender community, a pervasive sense of fear that has become second nature after two high-profile killings in the city in recent months. On Saturday, dozens gathered at the Spiritual Empowerment Center in Charles Village to attend a memorial for the victims, Mia Henderson and Kandy Hall.

Henderson, 26, a transgender woman, was killed in July. Her body was found in a Hanlon-Longwood neighborhood alley, and police said she had suffered "severe trauma." Henderson's death made national news in part because her brother, Reggie Bullock, is a shooting guard for the Los Angeles Clippers.

The 40-year-old Hall, also a transgender woman, was found dead in a field in Northeast Baltimore about a month earlier.

Baltimore police continue to investigate whether the crimes are connected, according to Detective Jeremy Silbert, a Police Department spokesman. Police have no suspects in either case, and Silbert said there are no other updates.

Tona Brown, a transgender woman who attended Saturday's memorial, said many transgender residents are afraid.

"It's an understood thing," said Brown, of Alexandria, Va., who lived in Baltimore until 2012. "We're all in fear that something can happen to us. This could happen to someone I know. This could happen to me."

Although there was an undercurrent of fear, attendees at the memorial stressed it was a time to remember Henderson and Hall.

"Everyone is rejoicing in the lives of these women," Brown said. "We are just like everyone else. We are mourning the lives of our sisters. I didn't know them personally, but it could have easily been myself."

Several people spoke, some sang songs of tribute and they reaffirmed their bonds as a community, according to those who attended.

"We got to celebrate life. And we got to say goodbye. We're coming together as a family," Jiretsu said. "We need to gather."

After the memorial ended, attendees urged the public to treat the transgendered with respect.

"A lot of our stories are invalidated by the community," said Hatcher-McLarin. "We're here and our presence is not a danger or a threat. ... We are trying to live our lives like everyone else."

Jiretsu echoed the sentiment.

"It's not fair," he said. "We're going about our daily lives. We want to live our lives in peace."

Jiretsu asked people to keep Henderson and Hall in their prayers. "And pray that this doesn't happen again," he said. "This has happened one too many times."

john-john.williams@baltsun.com