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Emmy Awards 2020: Meet The Transgender Stars Snubbed by The Academy

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

The 72nd Edition of Emmy Awards, an important event for professionals in the TV, had more than one-third of their nominations aimed to black actors, which generated a good repercussion in a period with a strong presence of the “Black Lives Matters” movement. However, part of the Internet has rebelled against it in reason of the missing transgender women professionals in the list of the Academy.

Pose” is one of the most prestigious shows of the year, as its cast has the largest number of trans people in history, with a script that celebrates diversity by telling the story of trans, black and latin women. Even though the actresses have been praised by critics and the public for their performances in the series, the only nominee was Billy Porter (gay, cis and black men) in “Best Actor in a Drama Series”, for the second consecutive year. 

For Kaíque de Souza Leão, 19-year-old brazilian transgender man, situations like this pass the idea that trans comunity is less important. “We trans are not there, nor do we exist like gays, for example. Putting a transgender person in an advertisement or at an award generates a huge controversy, and they don’t want controversy. Did the Pose women carry the series on their backs? Ok. Except that Billy is a man and even if he were trans, he would be chosen, because man has privilege”.

“Trans woman are the ones that receive less visibility in the LGBTQIA+ community, and  even if it´s a trans man, you acknowledge that you have more possibility for being a man, the trans man will only suffer when they know he is a trans man, if not, he has the same privilege as a cis man within a patriarchal male-dominated”, says Leão.

The Glaad Director of Transmidia & Representation said that 80% of North Americans say they have never had contact with transgender people. Therefore, the only reference they have is based on the media. For Aurora Maju Souza da Silva, a 22-year-oldtransgender woman, “people have always limited trans people, whether it’s a manicurist, a hairdresser, or a whore”. 

The journalism student highlights the importance of media and representativeness: “People can´t see us any other way, precisely because of this great influence that the media has, especially in the past, it was interesting to ridicule what was ‘different’ for them and that was a big impact to build this stereotype in people’s heads and make them not see a transsexual or transvestite in any other way”. Angelica Ross (Candy in “Pose”) did a live on Instagram on the same day that the nominations came out . She cried saying that was not about the nomination, but because she was tired. She not only works in front of or behind the camera, but also 24 hours a day, trying to make society value trans lives and black trans lives. In this same live she mentioned her friends and cast partners Indya Moore (Angel), Mj Rodriguez (Blanca), Dominique Jackson (Elektra) and Hailie Sahar (Lulu) – all transgender women – saying how much they deserved, after having been scorned last year, even more for the success of the series second season.

Meet the “Pose” transgender stars snubbed by Emmy:

Angelica Ross

Angelica Ross, 39, in addition to being an actress, she is a singer, founder and CEO of TransTech Social Enterprises (a company that helps employ trans people in the technology industry). She started her career in 2016, with the webserie “Her Story”. Now she is also part of the cast of “American Horror Story”, by the same creator of “Pose”, Ryan Murphy, as the psychologist Donna Chambers. Furthermore, the character Candy was the one that most gained prominence in the second season of “Pose” and was the owner of one of the most exciting scenes of this one. Everyone expected at least her nomination. 

Indya Moore

Indya plays Angel Evangelista in “Pose”. In addition to being an actress, she is a model (first trans woman to star on the cover of Elle USA) and founder of Beetlefruit Media, Inc. Before “Pose” she already worked as a model for several brands, and participated in “Saturday Church” alongside Mj Rodriguez.

Last year India attended the Emmy Awards and in an interview she said how happy she was to be present and the importance of visibility for trans people. In that year, no trans women from “Pose” were nominated, and this year the same happened.
Using Twitter, Indya made several tweets about awards forgetting trans people in the nominations: “Something about trans people not being honored on a show about trans people program who created a culture to honor ourselves because the world doesn’t.” (@indyamoore).

Mj Rodriguez

MJ Rodriguez, 29, in addition to being an actress, is a singer and plays the character Blanca Evangelista in “Pose”, which was highly praised in 2019 by critics as being the “heart” of “Pose”. In 2017 she made the film “Saturday Church”, playing the mentor of a teenage genderqueer. In 2019 the artistwas the first trans woman to win the “Best Actress” category at the Imagen Awards and this year was once again dropped by the Emmy.

Dominique Jackson

Dominique, 45, in addition to being an actress, a model, singer, writer and an important figure in the BallRoom, plays the character Elektra Abundance in “Pose”, the mother of House of Abundance and previously appeared in the reality show “Strut”, with a cast of trans models. She made a beautiful speech at the Nation Equality Award in 2019, in which she says: “It’s not about us saying to someone else that I accept you or I tolerate you. You do not have the power to accept me or tolerate me. I take that from you. You will respect me! We’re all human beings”.

Hailie Sahar

Hailie is an american actress, 32, best known for playing Lulu Abundance in “Pose”, later co-founder of the House of Ferocity. Before, she had appeared with secondary characters in series like “Mr. Robot” (USA Network) and plays Jazmin in “Good Trouble” (Freeform).

The actresshas an exciting series on the “BETNetworks” channel in which she describes all of her pressure growing up as part of a church family and finding herself transgender.

Laverne Cox (from “Orange Is The New Black”) and Rain Valdez (from “Razor Tong”)

Nominated for the first time this year, were the only women nominated for an Emmy until this year.Laverne expressed herself to Angelica Ross through her Twitter.

“Pose” is an important series, it shows the reality of trans people. The two seasons launched were very successful, with several striking scenes and acclaimed by critics and the media. “I feel represented by the actresses of Pose because you see that it’s more than acting, it’s as if they were reliving. They are trans women representing trans women”, said Aurora.

Series or films by transgender people are not well known, such as “Paris is Burning” (1991), “Boys don’t cry” (1999), “Tomboy” (2001). That is why the recognition of “Pose” is so important, for Aurora the trans are at the beginning of a greater representation having a series like this, for example, which shows the reality of what happens. “I am proud to be part of this fight and proving to people that I am more than a body, an object of desire, curiosity and fetish, that I have a lot of capacity to achieve everything I aim for. And with these actions to make the world better for the trans women that are yet to come”, concludes Silva.

“Our pride is resistance and our struggle is survival. Pride means resistance. I don’t fight to put my opinion on others, to have the ‘gay dictatorship’ as they say, I fight for my survival, not to die, to be seen. If they don’t even know about us, how can we have a voice to appear somewhere? The life expectancy of a trans person in Brazil is 35 years”, said Leão.


The article above was edited by Gabriela Sartorato.  

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Brazilian journalism student whose passion is a mixture of writing and listening to music. My lemma is always to be happy and respect people :)
Giovanna Pascucci

Casper Libero '22

Estudante de Relações Públicas na Faculdade Cásper Líbero que ama animais e falar sobre séries.