Life as a transgender woman wasn't easy for Anthony Trent. Known as "Tyra," the 25-year-old told family she was sometimes attacked on the street just because of the way she looked.
"He was a very bold person – he wasn't scared to show or flaunt his lifestyle," said cousin and close friend Correll Trent, 18. "People told him all the time, if this is the way you want to live, we can't stop you. But be careful, watch yourself."
Recently, she had been jumped on the street and beaten up, losing a tooth in the attack.
"He came home and cried that day," Correll said.
On Saturday, someone wandered into a vacant city-owned home in the 3300 block of Virginia Ave. in Northwest Baltimore and found Trent's body in the basement. She had no identification and no cell phone, but an autopsy revealed that she had been asphyxiated. City homicide detectives are investigating the case.
It took two days to confirm Trent's identity and notify family. Trent had been reported missing two weeks earlier, after leaving home late at night on a Sunday and never returning. Trent had been known to leave for a few days at a time, but always kept in touch with her mother, Sundra. Not this time.
"Sundra felt it. After two days she said, 'Something happened to my baby,' " said Pamela Holden, a family friend.
Relatives were gathered at the Trent family home Tuesday night, where they remembered Trent as a vibrant person who liked to dance, loved animals and loved to style hair. She worked with people with disabilities, they said.
"He was a good person, and he made friends," said aunt Evelina "Noni" Trent, 41.
She also worked the streets, often spending time at an area of lower Charles Village known as "The Stroll" that transgender prostitutes are known to frequent. Court records show dozens of arrests for loitering and prostitution between 2003 and 2008. In one, she climbed into the car of an undercover detective and asked if he wanted to party, then discussed oral sex, according to records.
Trent hadn't been arrested since 2008, however, and it is unknown what circumstances led to her death.
Sandy Rawls, director of Trans-United, which provides outreach for members of the transgender community, said she had been working with Trent, who was in the process of formally changing her name and working to obtain a GED.
"The whole transgender community is at risk," Rawls said. "We don't have the economical foundation set up for us as transgender people. We can't go into jobs without being discriminated against, and it's really hard for individuals to be themselves and have a way of living. Sometimes they end up doing wild things to survive, and they end up" in dangerous situations.
However, family said Trent lived with his mother and always had a place to stay.
Correll Trent said family feared for his safety. "Most city guys, guys who grow up in Baltimore, they don't like that," he said, referring to a transgender lifestyle. "He was so upset and hurt that people can't accept his lifestyle. It made me angry."
Outside the home, Trent's mother sat in an idling car, a young child strapped in the backseat. She waved over a reporter, whom she mistook for a detective. She said she couldn't stay for an interview.
"I need closure," she said, pulling away to visit the crime scene.