President Joe Biden delivered a message on his administration’s goals for the coming year to Congress and the American public in his first State of the Union address on Tuesday (March 1). But just hours before, Pose star Angelica Ross delivered her own address, calling him out.
Ross delivered Logo’s annual LGBTQ State of the Union (where she took over from Billy Porter, who delivered the address for the last three years), in which she called out Biden and his administration for doing the “bare minimum” when it came to protecting queer and trans Americans from violence and anti-LGBTQ legislation over the last year.
“President Biden, many of our Black trans sisters and siblings gave you our vote because you told us that you could reach across the aisle,” she said in her address. “You say trans youth are brave, and claim to have their backs, yet your administration has not done enough to protect them. Talk is cheap; we need you to act.”
The actress and activist brought attention to the fact that 2021 was the worst year on record when it came to anti-LGBTQ legislation, particularly in state legislatures around the country. Referencing the more than 100 bills introduced this past year that aimed to restrict LGBTQ protections, Ross highlighted laws aimed at transgender youth, impeding their access to school sports, bathrooms and healthcare. “Adult lawmakers are leveraging powers bestowed on them by voters to target children,” she said. “Let that sink in. The young people who will be impacted by these bills aren’t even old enough to vote yet. If you’re not appalled, you’re not paying attention.”
But Ross also highlighted some of the good that happened in 2021, including transgender students being officially included under Title IX protections by the U.S. Department of Education, and the rising amount of LGBTQ representation across media. “In 2021, trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming creatives made our voices heard,” she said with a smile.
Closing her address, Ross spoke directly to young trans and non-binary people who were watching, urging them not to give up hope. “I see you. I understand the very unique pain of watching your very basic freedoms become pawns in our nation’s fractured political system,” she said. “You are remarkable, you are powerful, you are unstoppable; no amount of hateful rhetoric will ever change that.”
One of Ross’s direct calls to the Biden administration was to pass the Equality Act, a bill that would create federal protections for LGBTQ Americans from discrimination in employment, housing, education and multiple areas. That call was answered during Biden’s address, in which he urged Congress to pass the long-stalled bill into law.
“For our LGBTQ+ Americans, let’s finally get the bipartisan Equality Act to my desk,” he said. “The onslaught of state laws targeting transgender Americans and their families is simply wrong. As I said last year, especially to our younger transgender Americans, I’ll always have your back as your president so you can be yourself and reach your God-given potential.”
Watch Angelica Ross’s full LGBTQ State of the Union address below: