Someone who is a trans woman held a holiday dinner for people who were by themselves. She was killed a few days later.

Someone who is a trans woman held a holiday dinner for people who were by themselves. She was killed a few days later.

Someone who is a trans woman held a holiday dinner for people who were by themselves. She was killed a few days later.
Image Credit-Iya Dammons
What Meghan Riley Lewis always wrote at the end of emails, texts, and other messages to her friends said a lot about her: “Stay sparkly.”

The woman from Bel Air, Maryland’s job was to help others see their sparkle, even when the world didn’t. Lewis, a transgender woman, gave her time, money, food, and love to Baltimore Safe Haven, the only full-service LGBTQ+ housing and health centre in the state.

“Meghan was sparkly,” said Iya Dammons, who helps run Baltimore Safe Haven and is friends with Lewis. “She ensured that our kids could have Christmas dinner, Thanksgiving dinner, and anything else they needed to be happy.” She sent sparkly things all the time.
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Lewis lets strangers into her home on Christmas Day to try to ease the loneliness and loss that many people feel during the holidays, especially transgender people who often feel cut off from family, friends, and society.
But her sparkle was gone before the end of the year. After a fight on December 27, Lewis was shot and killed, reportedly by a man delivering food in her neighbourhood.
The 47-year-old Brian Michael Delen is being charged with murder, attack, and having a weapon. According to court records and local news accounts, he was given home detention with GPS monitoring on December 29.

She reached out to those who were alone and beyond.

According to Dammons, Lewis was more than just a friendly face for people who often felt alone. They had been friends since 2018 when Lewis helped start Baltimore Safe Haven, and Dammons called out to see what she could do to help.
Lewis was there when Dammons had surgery to change their gender. He gave them advice and talked about the process and recovery privately, but he also brought them food and ensured they had everything they needed.
Her kindness went beyond helping LGBTQ people. A reporter for the Baltimore Banner named Clara Longo de Freitas was looking for a story to write on Christmas Day when she came across Lewis’ Facebook post inviting “some of my fellow queers who need to be fed and loved” to a meal and company.
The post included a feast fit for royalty, complete with turkey, roast beef, casseroles, and desserts.
Longo, from Brazil, was having her first Christmas alone, so Lewis asked the reporter to come along. Longo greeted the reporter in Portuguese and offered to make traditional Brazilian foods.
Longo was touched by the act, even though she didn’t go, and wrote about Lewis after she died.
“This is true community love and kindness toward strangers,” she told us. It’s tough to spend Christmas by yourself, and I think a lot of gay and trans people feel the same way.
That touched me a lot, as did her offer to make Brazilian food. It made me strong enough to spend Christmas Day by myself.
The young reporter said they were “very shocked” to hear about Lewis’s death. The Bel Air Police Department’s first stories about Lewis were also shocking, especially for her friends and transgender people.
They used her name at birth instead of her actual gender. (The department later fixed the release and apologized for the mistake.)

A "collection point for people who get lost."

Lee Blinder of Trans Maryland said Lewis was “a great collector of people who don’t have anyone else” and “fall through the cracks in the system.
” Lewis, who worked in tech and had two teenage children, “really took seriously the invitation to reach out to and care for our community.”
In an email answer to USA TODAY’s question, Bel Air Police said, “Nothing in our investigation thus far has indicated any motive related to anti-transgender or homophobic sentiment.”
However, Blinder, Dammons, and Upper Chesapeake Bay Pride’s Kurt Doan have different ideas. A national state of emergency was declared for LGBTQ+ people in the United States by the Human Rights Campaign in late 2023.
They did this because of a wave of anti-LGBTQ+ laws, the demonization of transgender people, and rising violence against transgender people, gender-nonconforming people, and other LGBTQ+ people.
“Deeply unsettling,” Blinder said of Lewis’s death.
“This causes a ripple effect that’s already layering onto anti-transgender sentiment in many states, including Maryland and neighbouring states, mostly to our south.”
“Lewis’ death has inspired more people in Maryland’s LGBTQ+ community to take action and speak out,” Doan said.
More than 100 people came to her funeral on January 2, he said, which made people in the rural area feel less alone. On Monday mornings, there will be a Justice Rally for Meghan Lewis at the Bel Air courts.
“This will shift our conversation (to) what we are going to do to advocate more for the LGBTQ+ community,” he explained. “We used to be all about putting on (a Pride) parade, but now we have to talk to kids in schools, talk to local police departments.”
The suspect in the case is not in jail, which bothers Dammons, Blinder, and Doan. From Harford County, where Lewis was shot, to the Statehouse, the three promised to call the police in Maryland and make a report.
“I’ve buried, I think, 13 trans siblings in the last five years,” Dammons stated. “We have been the ones carrying the body for our community.” Together, we stand. We prefer to make noise. We feel this is unfair, and our blood runs through the streets. Meghan was more than just a number.
Blinder said that Lewis wouldn’t have wanted people to be sad about her death, and the people who planned the January 2 event made sure to call it a celebration of her life instead of a vigil.
“Her perspective was about finding that joy and creating spaces for others to find their joy,” he said. “Nobody in the transgender community wants to be a number, especially when it comes to death or violence.” It seems Meghan would want people to step up and improve things for others.

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