Seventeen women accompanied Indya Moore to the stage of the Daily Front Row Fashion Media Awards last Thursday night. As reported by the Cut, the activist, model and co-star of FX’s Pose (who prefers they/them pronouns) was being honored with the evening’s Cover of the Year award for Elle magazine’s June 2019 cover—the first transgender cover star in the magazine’s history. But Moore used the moment to make a much more important statement, pairing their Oscar de la Renta gown with custom-designed, waist-length earrings featuring the photographs of 16 American trans women who have been murdered in 2019, as well as a 17th portrait on their evening bag to honor 17-year-old Bailey Reeves, killed three days before the event.
The irony of being celebrated for visibility wasn’t lost on Moore, who wrote about the tribute, designed in collaboration with stylist Ian Bradley and jewelry designer Areeayl Yoseefaw of Beads Byaree, on Instagram:
Just Like me these women dare to exhaust their freedom to exist by being visible, however, instead of being celebrated, they were punished for it.
While we make up .6 percent of the American population, The life expectancy of trans women/femmes is 35 years old.
Existence that requires bravery is not freedom.
A life that requires bravery is not free.
I accept this award in honor of the truth that
The best award and the award we all deserve is to be able to get home safe.
I accept this award in good faith that my recognition doesn’t lead to the Erasure of other trans and GNC folks who also deserve health care, housing safety in visibility, magazine covers, runways, leading film and tv roles, doctorates degrees, high school diplomas, college educations and representation everywhere.
Yoseefaw’s creation was inspired by an earlier posthumous tribute to a loved one. Commenting on the collaboration with Moore, the designer captioned a post:
[Ian Bradley] contacted me with a mission for the earrings. He was prepping Indya Moore to receive the honor of Cover of the Year for ELLE at Daily Front Row. They wanted to pay tribute to and also build awareness for the 16 (now 17) trans women who were murdered this year in the USA. The issue is so pressing that after creating the earring and three days before the event, Bailey Reeves, a 17 year old girl from Baltimore was killed. For her, Indya carried a frame around with her face.
[Indya’s] jewelry served as an altar and their speech was both a prayer for the future and a call to action. In their hour of celebration they put their trans sisters in the forefront. They spoke for those who cannot and became a light for everyone. I am both honored charged by this to continue creating, speaking up, standing up and breaking the boundaries of invisible divides between us.
But Moore wasn’t the only Pose star speaking out on trans visibility this week; as BET aired 2019's Black Girls Rock! ceremony on Sunday, Angelica Ross pointed out the fact that trans women were seemingly not included (a fact we are embarrassed to have overlooked in our coverage, as well). As Nylon reported, on Sunday, the actor-activist—who will soon appear in American Horror Story: 1984—tweeted:
BLACK TRANS GIRLS ROCK!!!! I’m willing to B.E.T. that no trans women were invited or highlighted at #BlackGirlsRock. Is it 18 now? 18 black trans women have been killed this year, but NO MENTION during the segment dedicated to the lives lost???
While the tweet sparked the predictable backlash from many who still refuse to acknowledge trans women as women, more overwhelming was the concern that a ceremony created to honor black women might potentially be excluding a segment of our own population—currently, the most endangered among us, in fact.
But far more disturbing is the fact that the number of trans murders—particularly those of trans women of color—keep climbing.