Vigil remembers transgender murder victim

Tyra Trent's body found in vacant home in Northwest Baltimore last month

March 04, 2011|By Jessica Anderson, The Baltimore Sun

There was Jana, and then Chrissie and others. And then there was Tyra.

The names were among those on a long list of local transgender people who succumbed to violence or drug abuse or homelessness, said Robyn Webb, who rattled them off at a candlelight vigil Friday for the latest victim, Tyra Trent. While Webb, 54, never knew Trent, she understood her struggles and knew of her death.

The 25-year-old, born Anthony Trent and known as Tyra, was killed last month. Her body was found Feb. 19 in a vacant, city-owned home in the 3300 block of Virginia Ave. in Northwest Baltimore.

Her body was found in the basement. No identification or cell phone was with her. She died of asphyxiation.

A crowd of about 50 gathered at the corner of North Avenue and Charles Street, braving chilly winds to remember Tyra Trent. Speaking over the din of rush-hour traffic, Webb said: "Our struggle goes on. Let's keep the good fight going."

The vigil was organized by Sandy Rawls, director of Trans-United, which provides help to members of the transgender community.

"We all have our struggles," Rawls said. But, she added, resources are scarce for transgender individuals.

Rawls said she had been working with Trent to formally change her name and obtain her GED.

"Being transgender takes a strong mind, not just to fight society but your own insecurities — a lot want to give up," said Stacy Williams, 35, who knew Trent since she was 15, before she made the "transition," which he said took Trent two or three years.

He said it was a "major step" for Trent to work toward a high school equivalency degree after struggling with drugs — "but she got her life on track," he said.

Williams was among several of Trent's friends who attended the gathering.

"It feels good to see everyone here supporting the same cause," he said.

Two people led songs, but most people remained quiet, clutching small white candles inside Dixie cups.

Trent's mother spoke briefly to the crowd, thanking everyone and asking them to "keep us all in your prayers."

"Hopefully we don't have to go through this anymore," she said.

As of Friday, detectives were interviewing possible witnesses, but a police spokesman said no other updates were available and no arrests had been made.

After Trent's body was found, it took two days to confirm her identity and to notify her family. She had been reported missing two weeks earlier, after leaving home late at night on a Sunday.

Williams remembered Trent as outgoing and high-spirited. "She's going to be missed," he said.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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