On Thursday night, Indya Moore kicked off New York Fashion Week by attending the Daily Front Row Fashion Media Awards. For the occasion, the 24-year-old model and actor, who stars on politically vital and urgent FX series Pose, wore an Oscar de la Renta gown that trailed behind them on the floor of the red carpet and the stage where they accepted the award for Cover of the Year. (Earlier this year, Moore became Elle's first transgender cover star.)
But far more significant were the frames that they carried that night—16 on their earrings, and one in their hand—designed by Areeayl Yoseefaw, who, at the request of Moore's stylist, Ian Bradley, created a custom version of the "keepsake" earrings she first made in honor of her late godmother. Bradley and Moore "wanted to pay tribute to and also build awareness for the 16 (now 17) trans women who were murdered this year in the USA," Yoseefaw explained of the framed faces on Instagram. "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."
Moore's jewelry, Yoseefaw continued, "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."
"As you all know, or not, I am black, and I am trans," Moore began their speech. "Right now the Supreme Court [is] voting on whether or not trans people can access employment, shelter, and healthcare in the same ways that you all have access," making it a difficult time, they added, "to celebrate being celebrated for for being myself."
"Existence that requires bravery is not freedom. A life that requires bravery is not freedom," Moore continued. "I accept this award in honor of the truth that the best award—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 [gender nonconforming] folks who also deserve healthcare, housing, safety, and visibility; magazine covers, runways, leading films and TV roles, doctor’s degrees, high school diplomas, college educations, and families; acknowledgement and respect. Not just when we’re on the covers of magazines, but when we are in the streets, when we are poor."
On Friday morning, Moore shared a similar message with their followers 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," they captioned a repost of Yoseefaw's photo. "While we make up .6 percent of the American population, the life expectancy of trans women/femmes is 35 years old."
Tragically, it's a crisis that's been ongoing for decades, as Moore helped point out earlier this year. In season two of Pose, their character, Angel, notes that 11 trans women had been murdered by the month of May in the year 1990 in New York City alone—and, as the episode's credits notes, between the date that it aired in July and the year 2008, more than 2,900 trans and gender nonconforming people have been murdered around the world.