During her LGBTQ State of the Union address Tuesday, actor and activist Angelica Ross urged President Joe Biden to take concrete steps to protect transgender youth.
“We are all living through a moment of unprecedented loss, financial hardship and sociopolitical discord,” the “Pose” star said hours before Biden’s first State of the Union address. “We know these issues disproportionately impact the most marginalized among us, so we need our leaders to be doing more to protect our LGBTQ+ community — but most particularly our Black trans sisters and siblings.”
Ross started her speech — part of an annual event organized by the queer media outlet Logo — by accusing the administration of doing the “bare minimum.”
“You say trans youth are brave and claimed to have their backs, and your administration has not done enough to sufficiently protect them. Talk is cheap. We need you to act,” she said.
She then pushed for the passage of the Equality Act, federal legislation that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in areas such as employment, housing, education and public accommodations. The measure passed the House last year but has stalled in the Senate.
“We urge Congress to move this groundbreaking bill forward, and we implore the Biden administration: continue putting pressure on them to do so,” Ross said.
Describing 2021 as “the worst year on record for anti-LGBTQ legislation,” she went through some of the 100 bills introduced in 34 states last year, including one in Texas that would classify gender-affirming care as child abuse and one in Tennessee that would prohibit transgender students from using the school restroom or locker room consistent with their gender identity.
Ross also called on LGBTQ Americans to “join me in holding our communities, our local representatives and our nation’s leaders accountable during this very critical inflection point in American history.”
She spoke directly to transgender and nonbinary youths toward the end of her address.
“I see you,” she said. “I understand the very unique pain of watching your basic freedoms become pawns in our nation’s fractured political system. If it all feels overwhelming at times, you’re right; it is. But listen up, my dears, because this is important. You are remarkable. You are powerful. You are unstoppable. No amount of hateful rhetoric will ever change that.”
Ross also reminded young people of the “rich history of trans and gender-nonconforming people who came before you,” adding that “each of us must lift up the banner of liberation together so that the generations that come after us will be even freer.”