Bailey Reeves, a rising high school senior who was one of at least 17 transgender people killed this year, was remembered Friday in a somber ceremony in Baltimore.
Nearly 50 people came together in the Ynot Lot at the corner of North Avenue and Charles Street to light candles, hold hands and show solidarity in the face of violence experienced by the LGBTQ community. She was one of at least three trans women killed in Maryland in 2019.
The first step to fighting violence is unity, said Iya Dammons, the event organizer who runs Baltimore Safe Haven, a new resource center and shelter that will open its doors Sept. 15 at 2117 N. Charles St. The group hung a photo of Reeves, sang “Lean On Me,” and chanted “Enough is enough.”
“It could have been any one of us,” Dammons said. “There is a lot of violence in Baltimore toward trans people. The violence is repeating itself over and over again.”
Police said Reeves, 17, of Rockville, died after being shot at 8:05 p.m. Monday in Northeast Baltimore. She was shot in her torso in the 4300 block of Parkwood Ave. and taken to a nearby hospital where she died.
As of Friday, police said they had no suspect or motive in the shooting.
Reeves’ brother Thomas Reeves, a 20-year-old Morgan State University student, said his sister was at a cookout with her friends when she was shot. He had been at the same party but left about an hour before the shooting. He was eating dinner when he got the call to go to Johns Hopkins Hospital.
“She was a person who lived her life to the fullest,” Thomas Reeves said.
Thomas Reeves said he was comforted by the number of people who came out to the vigil. He said he hopes to one day start a nonprofit to fight gun violence, specifically as it impacts the LGBTQ community.
Like Bailey Reeves, the majority of trans people killed are black women, said Sarah McBride, national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign. The Washington-based organization, the nation’s largest LGBTQ rights group, tracks violence against the trans community.
“When transpohobia mixes with misogyny racism it can result in fatal violence," McBride said. "That’s why almost every single trans death is a woman and someone of color.”
The community is pointing to the possible killing of an 18th trans woman in Florida this week.
McBride said the number of deaths has been increasing, believed in part to be because of more accurate data on trans killings and the vitriol in the country’s politics. In 2018, at least 26 transgender people were killed in the U.S.
Besides Reeves, two of the other killings this year have been in Maryland. Zoe Spears, 23, was killed on June 13 in Fairmount Heights. Ashanti Carmon, 27, died after being shot on March 30 in Prince George’s County.
Mimi Demissew, who runs the Pride Center of Maryland at 2530 N. Charles St. in Baltimore, said the rate of killings of trans women of color has led to a shorter life expectancy than the population overall. Contributing to the killings are other challenges the group faces, she said, such as housing instability, poverty and the rate of sex trafficking.
Demissew said she couldn’t speak about the circumstances surrounding Reeves’ killing until more information is known.
The Pride Center works to extend life for trans women of color — and others — by providing resources that address some of the challenges they can face, Demissew said. That includes information on housing, access to GED courses and help for people who have endured trauma so they can learn to navigate the workplace.
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Anneke “Pee Wee” Corbitt said Bailey Reeves was a friend. Corbitt sobbed into the arms of Reeves’ brother and other friends at the vigil.
“Not many people in our community get this kind of respect," Corbitt said.
News of Reeves’ killing spread far and wide.
Trans actress Dominique Jackson, who plays Elektra on the FX series Pose, posted “RIP Bailey Reeves only 17” to her 261,000 followers on Instagram.
Fellow Pose star Indya Moore carried a framed photograph of Reeves — along with images of every black trans woman killed this year — at the Fashion Media Awards Thursday. During an acceptance speech, according to The Daily Front Row, the actor who plays Angel on the series said, “I’m grieving with her family. She would make the 17th, and the youngest-known black trans female murdered this year by gun violence. Just like me, these women dared to exhaust their freedom to exist by being visible.”