When Patricia Arquette was honored Saturday night with the Vanguard Award at the 2017 GLAAD Media Awards, she made good use of her acceptance speech time by paying tribute to her late sister, trans actor Alexis Arquette, who passed away last September at the age of 47.
Arquette praised Alexis for her bravery in living life fearlessly as a trans woman, especially in the entertainment industry.
“Alexis challenged the movie industry at its core,” she said. “She had a very successful career as an actor. Alexis knew she was risking losing work by living her truth. That she would lose parts by living as a trans woman. She risked it all because she couldn’t live a lie. Whatever mark I have made in this life in activism will always pale in the light of Alexis’s bravery. She did not knock on the door of progress. She kicked the door open.”
Arquette also used her speech to make a case for increased visibility and acceptance of trans individuals, going so far as to call out attorney general Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice for not responding to a letter from Democratic members of Congress asking for a federal hate crime investigation into the pattern of murders of transgender women.
“Can you hear us, Jeff Sessions? You don’t need to have a trans family member, or a gay friend, or a questioning kid for this to affect you,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what color or gender or faith you are. There are so many marginalized groups right now under attack. When one of us is vulnerable, all of us are vulnerable.”
Watch the speech below.