Activists and community members gathered with candles on Friday to hold a vigil for Bailey Reeves, a transgender 17-year-old who was gunned down in Baltimore over Labor Day weekend. Reeves is one of 18 trans people, nearly all of them Black trans women, who have been murdered in the United States so far this year. Three have been killed just in the state of Maryland alone.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the high school senior was out at a cookout with friends when she was shot in the torso. She was taken to a hospital where she later died.
A crowd of around 50 people attended the vigil where they joined hands, sang, and held pictures of Reeves, chanting “Enough is enough.” Friends and family consoled each other as they gathered to remember the deceased, described as someone who loved life.
“Not many people in our community get this kind of respect,” Anneke “Pee Wee” Corbitt, a friend of Reeves’, told the Sun.
The event was organized by Iya Dammons, executive director of the LGBTQ+ group Baltimore Safe Haven. She says Reeves’ death is a reminder that Black trans women are being left behind even as some in the LGBTQ+ movement have made progress.
“When structures and policies are not set up in such a way where we can exist and live freely, equal lives as other people, compared with the reality of hunger and homelessness, I ask what choice would you make?” Dammons tells Out in an email. “Girls are being forced to live in the streets and they are dying.”
Although the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ group, says Reeves’ life was “was stolen from her by a toxic mix of transphobia, misogyny, racism and gun violence,” there has been some question about whether the victim was targeted because of her gender identity. Representatives from the Baltimore Police Department, for instance, told NewNowNext that Reeves was shot from “more than half a block away.”
“So Bailey was probably not the intended target,” Detective Danny Moses said in an interview with the LGBTQ+ news outlet.
But LGBTQ+ community members say the situation is indicative of the violence transgender women face every day. Of the 18 trans people killed this year, the overwhelming majority lost their lives as a result of gun-related injuries, including women like Muhlaysia Booker, Ashanti Carmon, and Chanel Scurlock. Bee Love, who was killed earlier this month, was allegedly shot before being burned alive in a car.
Dammons says the vigil was intended to celebrate Reeves’ life also to send the message that enough is enough.
“I know I speak for all trans women when I say that we are sick and tired of being sick and tired,” she says. “Transgender women not only here in the DMV but around the country and around the world are regularly subject to violence, brutality, mistreatment, ridicule, and violence.”
Reeves’ tragic death has led to an outpouring of tributes from LGBTQ+ people across the country, including Pose stars Dominique Jackson and Indya Moore. Moore brought a photo of Reeves to the Fashion Media Awards on Thursday, where the actor called to end the epidemic of violence against transgender women in a speech.
“Just like me, these women dared to exhaust their freedom to exist by being visible,” Moore said of Reeves and other homicide victims.
Additional reporting by Nico Lang