Bobbie Jean Baker, Trans Activist and Minister, Dead at Age 49

A prominent transgender activist died in a car accident on New Year's Day, leaving behind a legacy of love, compassion, and hope.

BY Parker Marie Molloy

January 10 2014 3:11 PM ET

Bobbie Jean Baker, a 49-year-old transgender woman from Oakland, Calif., died in the early hours of January 1 after a car crash on Interstate 580.

After moving to the Bay Area in 1992, Baker became an ordained minister at City Refuge United Church of Christ, served as the West Coast Regional TransSaints Minister of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, and was lay minister at Transcending Transgender Ministries.

Baker devoted much of her time to working with several Bay Area nonprofit organizations, and she served in varied roles, including as a peer advocate, case manager, domestic violence specialist, and housing manager. Additionally, she spent more than a decade as part of the Transcendence Gospel Choir, an all-transgender singing group.

On the morning of the accident, police officers discovered Baker pinned inside a 2002 Ford Expedition. She was pronounced dead on the scene, reports the San Franciso Chronicle. The vehicle’s driver, 42-year-old Robert Lee Wiseman, told police that another car hit the Expedition, causing the accident, though he wasn’t able to provide a description of the vehicle. Wiseman was tested for alcohol, and police concluded that he was not intoxicated at the time of the collision.

“It’s a big community loss,” Tiffany Woods of the Tri-City Health Center in Fremont, Calif., told the San Jose Mercury News. “She was huge in the African-American transgender community and the community at large. She was grooming the younger generation and mentoring them. Part of the work we are all doing is mentoring and teaching and training as much as we can.”

A memorial service for Baker will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Oakland. The service will be open to the public.

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