Life as a transgender woman wasn’t easy for Anthony Trent. Known as “Tyra,” the 25-year-old told family she would sometimes be 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 wandering into a vacant, city-owned home in the 3300 block of Virginia Ave. in Northwest Baltimore found Trent’s body in the basement. She had no identification and no cell phone, but an autopsy had shown 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 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 family friend Pamela Holden.
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 the city known as “The Stroll” where 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 up 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 wanted to obtain a GED.
“We had been trying to get her off the street for some time, but there's really nowhere to put transgender individuals who are homeless,” Rawls said. “Every time we go somewhere, we're ostracized out of that place, and they end up getting into dangerous situations.”
However, family said Trent lived with her mother and always had a place to stay.
Correll Trent said family feared for her 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, who 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.