July 23, 2014 at 9:26 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Baltimore trans women on edge after two murders
Eric Kowlaczyk, gay news, Washington Blade, Baltimore, Maryland, transgender, murder

Lt. J. Eric Kowlaczyk of the Baltimore Police Department addressing the media after officers found Mia Henderson’s body on July 16. (Photo by Steve Charing)

The unsolved murders of two transgender women of color in Baltimore in recent weeks have left the city’s trans residents on edge.

A member of Black Transmen, a Dallas-based advocacy group that works in Baltimore and D.C., who asked the Washington Blade to remain anonymous because of safety concerns, said during an interview on Monday that some trans women with whom he has spoken are afraid to leave their homes after police officers found Mia Henderson’s body near Lake Ashburton on July 16.

Authorities on June 3 found Kandy Hall dead in a field near a post office on the 1400 block of Fillmore Street in the city’s Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood.

Henderson’s brother is Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard Reggie Bullock.

“This has sparked a level of anxiety, maybe a little post-traumatic stress I guess because of their histories,” the Black Transmen member told the Blade.

Meredith Moise, an ordained minister of color in Baltimore, echoed Michael when she spoke with the Blade.

“A lot of black trans women are very nervous,” said Moise. “The community is extremely on edge. People are very upset.”

The Baltimore Police Department on Tuesday did not return the Blade’s requests for comment.

Court records indicate that a person who was the same age as Henderson and shares her birth name was arrested for prostitution in Baltimore on several occasions in 2012.

This person was charged with prostitution, second-degree assault and resisting arrest on Dec. 12, 2012. Court records indicate this person was convicted on the assault charge.

Court records indicate Hall was charged with prostitution four times in Anne Arundel County between 2001-2003 and twice in Baltimore in 2010.

A possible motive behind Hall and Henderson’s murder has yet to emerge, but the Black Transmen member told the Blade that some trans women who “aren’t necessarily on the stroll, but have now been able to get themselves together to get jobs and things” are “afraid to actually leave their homes.”

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told the Blade in a statement on Tuesday that Police Commissioner Anthony Batts and other department personnel have met “several times” with trans residents and advocates to discuss Henderson and Hall’s murders.

“He has assured them that these cases are top priority and he is driving the agency to solve these crimes,” she said. “I have made clear to my entire administration, that the protection and advocacy for LGBT rights is a top priority. Commissioner Batts along with the Police Commissioner’s LGBT Advisory Council and the police department’s LGBT liaison officer have all emphasized how important information from the community will be in closing these cases.”

Rawlings-Blake added members of her administration plan to meet with “a larger group of the transgender community in the very near future to hear their concerns.”

“My administration has repeatedly stated that we want to develop strong relationships with every part of our community, including the transgender community,” she told the Blade.

Henderson’s murder comes less than a month after Quamar Edwards allegedly shot Tiffany Edwards, a trans woman of color, to death in a Cincinnati suburb.

Police in Fort Myers, Fla., on June 19 found the burned body of Yaz’min Shancez behind a local business. Authorities in Anaheim, Calif., a few days earlier found Zoraida Reyes, an LGBT and immigrant rights advocate, dead behind a local Dairy Queen.

“Anytime any life is lost to senseless violence it is a tragedy and my heart aches,” Rawlings-Blake told the Blade.

Anyone with information about Henderson and Hall’s deaths is urged to call Metro Crime Stoppers at (866) 7-LOCKUP.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • “Court records indicate that a person who was the same age as Henderson and shares her birth name was arrested for prostitution in Baltimore on several occasions in 2012.”

    Yes Michael Lavers lets make this about the potential prior of someone may or may not have been arrested for a “quality of life” crime and blame the victim for their past transgressions. We all know the intersection of race, gender non-conformity and economic opportunity precipitate the environment in which murders like this happen, not whether someone is doing anything they can to survive in our racist, and sexist society.

    You are quite the detective, Mr Cisgender Gay Man… What that the first thing you researched?

    What’s the homicide rate for white gay men not named Matthew Sheppard? While you do some detective work on that, let me throw this at you.

    Trans women of color experience a homicide rate of 186 per 100K as compared to all other murders in Baltimore last year, which was 8 per 100K (based on the Baltimore Police Department’s assertion that 80-85% of homicides are drug related).

    If the population size of trans women of color was the same as Baltimore City’s entire population, there would have been nearly 1200 homicides.

    Maybe THAT’S your story…. That and how “news articles” like this work to perpetuate the extreme marginalization of trans communities in general and trans communities of color in specific…

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