QUEER VOICES

Patricia Arquette Calls Out Jeff Sessions For Ignoring Trans Deaths

"We ― LGBTQ people and allies ― don’t do silence," she said.

Patricia Arquette blasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions for not responding to Democratic members of Congress who asked for a federal hate crime investigation into a recent spate of killings of transgender women of color.

Arquette, 48, made the fiery remarks as part of an acceptance speech at the 2017 GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on Saturday. The “Boyhood” star was honored with GLAAD’s Vanguard Award for her outspoken support of the LGBTQ community, in particular her late sister, Alexis Arquette, who identified as trans. 

“This year we have already seen eight trans women of color viscously murdered, some of them misgendered,” a teary Arquette told the crowd in her speech, which can be viewed below. “Two weeks ago, members of Congress asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice to launch a federal hate crimes investigation into the murders. The response from Sessions? Silence.”  

She then added, “Well, we ― LGBTQ people and allies ― don’t do silence.”

Known as one of the most anti-gay politicians in Washington, Sessions has opposed pro-LGBTQ legislation at every level. The former Alabama senator voted in support of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and against taking up a bill providing workplace discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. He was also against repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and voted against expanding the definition of hate crimes to include attacks on people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity twice.

Arquette’s passion for LGBTQ causes is, of course, personal, and the Oscar winner devoted the rest of her GLAAD speech to Alexis, who died in September at the age of 47. Though her sister enjoyed roles in hit films like “Pulp Fiction” and “The Wedding Singer,” Alexis “couldn’t live a life that was a lie,” Arquette said, and thus put her Hollywood success on the line when she came out as trans in 2006. 

“Alexis challenged the movie industry at its core,” Arquette said. “Whatever mark I have made in this life in activism will always pale in the light of Alexis’ bravery. She did not knock on the door of progress. She kicked the door open.”

Arquette also responded to critics who feel that Hollywood stars should steer clear of politics, noting, “I am an actor. I’m also a taxpayer. I’m also a sister, and I’m an American.” 

The 28th annual GLAAD Media Awards will be broadcast on Logo on Thursday, April 6 at 10 p.m. 

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