Less than two days before Chayviss Reed, a popular transgender woman who many friends knew as “Juicy,” was shot dead at an intersection, she spoke to her mother on the phone.
All seemed well.
“Everything was normal. It’s heartbreaking,” said Precious Sharpe-McQueen, who traveled to South Florida on Thursday from the Atlanta area to help find her daughter’s killer.
Reed, 28, was shot dead just before dawn on the morning of April 21, at the corner of Northwest 27th Avenue and 92nd Street. It’s a neighborhood where police said she was known to prostitute.
Police also have refused to rule out the murder as a hate crime, though they have little to indicate that was the case. Reed’s mother, though, is certain that gender identity played a role in her child’s death.
“He grew up and he made his own choice,” said Sharpe-McQueen. “It was like he was being abused in the street. Even when he walked to school. He just had a rough life. He struggled with it.”
Asked if she believes Reed was targeted because of her gender choice, Sharpe-McQueen didn’t hesitate: “Yes, he was.”
Sharpe-McQueen said she remained close with her child even through her gender identity transformation. And despite Reed’s desire to be a woman, Sharpe-McQueen said she will continue to refer to Reed as her son.
“He didn’t have to die like this. He was my son. My oldest child,” she said.
With the investigation stalled, police invited Reed’s family to Miami-Dade to try and jolt someone’s memory or impress on anyone who may have witnessed the crime to speak up. Reed was found dead with several gunshot wounds. She didn’t appear to have property stolen. No witnesses to the shooting have stepped forward.
“We’re always seeking new leads that can take us to a resolution and bring closure to the family,” said Miami-Dade Detective Alvaro Zabaleta.
Said Reed’s step-father Clayton McQueen: “Somebody’s not talking.”
Sharpe-McQueen said Reed grew up in South Florida and shuttled between Miami-Dade and Broward. As a teen she attended the Homestead Job Corps Center, where fellow students remember “Chay” showing off her best dance moves.
“She was the life of the center,” friend Quinae’ Donnell told the Miami Herald.
Reed’s Facebook page shows she grew up in Carol City, graduated from American Senior High School and moved to Opa-locka after finishing the job corps program.
According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, transgender people are the highest at-risk group among members of the LGBTQ community. So far this year in North America, 16 transgender men and women have been homicide victims, according to The Advocate, a magazine that covers the LGBTQ community.