A 20-year-old man who was dating a transgender woman has taken his own life after being bullied relentlessly about his relationship.
Maurice Willoughby, aka Reese, was open about his relationship and admitted to dating a transgender woman in a Facebook Live video which is said to have gained over 15,000 views.
However, the video received backlash and Reese’s openness led to him being bullied.
One viral video showed a group of men hurling abuse at the 20-year-old on the street:
Wow!! I wish I could find a brave man like Reese who openly date trans women!! This is exactly why men that are attracted to trans women or even queer males stay in the closet!! It’s 2019 we have to do better!!! pic.twitter.com/cv0tfb07LS
— KREN$HAW BABY 💕 (@karrkrenshaw) August 21, 2019
Reese, from Philadelphia, was in a relationship with a trans woman named Faith. It’s unclear how long the couple had been together but the young man had his girlfriend’s name tattooed on his forehead.
Those close to Reese reportedly told Aazios he was dealing with mental health issues as well as depression and the kind of kind of bullying evident in the video only served to make his life more difficult.
this is so awful. we have to do a better job of talking openly about & making an effort to end violence against and stigma surrounding trans women- even one more death, whether it be men like reese who openly loved their trans girlfriends, or trans women themselves, is too many. https://t.co/1bHVrGe2gk
— kiana (@kianamazar) August 21, 2019
One source told the publication:
He was getting picked on and joked on all the time. Where we are from, if you like [a] trans woman and you [are] black, the streets will talk about you, fight you, even try to kill you. He was dealing with a lot.
In a Facebook post written before he died, the 20-year-old defended his relationship:
Y’all can say whatever about Faith I really don’t care if she not passable I don’t care if she wasn’t born a woman she is a woman to me & I love her flaws that’s what makes her faith if you heard her story it’s motivating….. I’m happy you should be happy for me.
My condolences to Marcus "Reese" Willoughby of Philadelphia,PA. It is reported he committed suicide for being bullied for openly loving a trans woman. Also reported he was battling mentally health issues social media bullying/harassment took it overboard. pic.twitter.com/nBHkXTeX59
— TS Candii (@TS_Candii) August 20, 2019
Civil rights activist Ashlee Marie Preston shared the footage of Reese being bullied on Twitter after the young man took his own life, explaining how this kind of abuse is, tragically, not unusual.
When a man is confident & secure enough to openly love a trans woman; this is the bullying and harassment he gets.
Transgender women of colour often face violence and abuse – in fact they have an average life expectancy of just 35 years. Ashlee pointed out some of the violence stems from men who, like Reese, are attracted to trans women, however rather than being open and loving who they want to love, they react with fear.
The 35-year-old continued:
When trans attracted men kill us; it’s out of fear that this will happen to them if they are outed. Reese didn’t kill his girlfriend; he killed himself instead.
When a man is confident & secure enough to openly love a trans woman; this is the bullying and harassment he gets. When trans attracted men kill us; it’s out of fear that this will happen to them if they are outed. Reese didn’t kill his girlfriend; he killed himself instead. #RIP pic.twitter.com/P4el3duZGZ
— Ashlee Marie Preston (@AshleeMPreston) August 20, 2019
In a comment to UNILAD, Ashlee said:
The violence trans women of color face is often exacerbated by a hostile social climate that heavily discourages the acknowledgement of our womanhood and basic humanity. Therefore when trans amorous men find themselves standing on the other side of that expectation; they subject themselves to mental torture.
However, in most cases trans women end up bearing the greater brunt of the consequence for their internal conflict. They somehow come to the conclusion that if we didn’t exist; neither would their attraction.
Tributes have been pouring in for Reese on social media, with many drawing attention to the tragedy of him being treated so horribly just for loving someone.
black trans women fucking matter. they deserve to feel beautiful and loved in public; their partners should be able to love with no limits or fears. i’m heartbroken. rest well reese, thank you for loving a black trans woman unapologetically. may your spirit live forever.
— voodoo boo 🧚🏽♂️🔮 (@bbysunfl0wer) August 21, 2019
Transgender activist Munroe Bergdorf wrote:
I’m heartbroken, for Faith, Reese and their loved ones. I’m heartbroken for the black community, the trans community and ultimately humanity.
Reese, a black cisgender male has taken his own life after being bullied by other black cisgender men for coming out as in a relationship with Faith, a black transgender woman on social media…
But before you state your disgust at those men who pushed Reese to take his own life. Ask yourself, what would YOU feel if you found out your father, your brother, your ex, your lover or your son brought home a black transgender woman.
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Needed to take a minute and gather myself before speaking about this story at length. Firstly I'm heartbroken, for Faith, Reese and their loved ones. I'm heartbroken for the black community, the trans community and ultimately humanity. Almost consistently since this year began, stories of black transgender women being attacked and murdered by cisgender men have been reported with such little urgency or concern for the fact that this situation is critical. Imagine if it were cisgender white women being hunted down and shot to death in parking lots, fished out of lakes, or found stabbed in hotel rooms, purely for the fact that they were cisgender and white. IMAGINE THE UPROAR, the public outcry. But a white woman's life will always be held with greater esteem in a society where whiteness reigns supreme. Black transgender lives are held with such little regard by wider society that our deaths are expected, our deaths are a statistic, our deaths seemingly do not matter. And that weighs so heavily on me and my sisters every single day. Now, Reese, a black cisgender male has taken his own life after being bullied by other black cisgender men for coming out as in a relationship with Faith, a black transgender woman on social media… But before you state your disgust at those men who pushed Reese to take his own life. Ask yourself, what would YOU feel if you found out your father, your brother, your ex, your lover or your son brought home a black transgender woman. Are you still down for black trans lives then when we're stitting opposite you at the dining room table next him? Every single day just seems to get darker and darker and every single time it gets worse for trans folk and queer folk in general, it falls on the shoulders of black trans women, the most the most marginalized members of the LGBT community to not only lift ourselves up, but also to educate others as to why our lives matter. Honestly, I'm tired of it. It feels like a large portion of the queer community got their rights and jumped ship and the rest of us are clambering for the life rafts. RIP Reese. Thinking of you Faith.
Our thoughts are with Reese’s friends and family, and all those who have to deal with this kind of abusive behaviour every day.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence contact Mindline Trans+ on 0300 330 5468. The line is open Mondays and Fridays, 8 pm to midnight and is run by trans volunteers.
Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.