Equality Maryland spent the first half of Wednesday, Feb. 23 celebrating the second reading Senate passage of a bill that would grant same-sex couples marriage rights in the state if signed into law.
But the day closed somberly at Equality Maryland’s headquarters in Baltimore with a vigil for Tyra Trent.
Police are investigating the death of Trent, a 25-year-old transgender sex worker, who was found asphyxiated in her Baltimore apartment on Saturday, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Maryland transgender activist Dana Beyer was en route to the vigil when speaking to Metro Weekly about the murder.
"It's not surprising news," Beyer said. "There's still problems even in jurisdictions that have full civil rights protections, there's still bigotry, there's still hatred, and people do this."
"On Transgender Day of Remembrance, we recall those who have died that year, and in the previous year, and every year we know of 30-40 people who died. This is one more from Baltimore, it's terrible, but it’s the kind of norm that we've gotten accustomed to, and the legislatures don't view this with any kind of urgency," Beyer said.
Beyer added that the reason activists push bills like House Bill 235, the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Antidiscrimination bill, is to "try to change the culture."
The bill's language states that if passed it would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity with regard to housing, employment, commercial leasing and more.
According to Equality Maryland, there is currently no Maryland state law, or federal law, that provides protections for transgender people in Maryland.
In a news release issued in late January following the bill's first reading in the Maryland House Health and Government Operations Committee, Equality Maryland executive director Morgan Meneses-Sheets said passage of the bill is crucial.
"Discrimination against the transgender community is rampant in Maryland," she said. "Data shows that one in five transgender people in Maryland have lost a job because they are transgender, and 12 percent have become homeless. This law is a matter of life-or-death for many Marylanders."
On Feb. 23, Maryland House Health and Government Operations Committee set a hearing date of 1 p.m. March 9 for H.B. 235.