Actress Patricia Arquette delivered another politically charged speech after winning the award Sunday night for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie at the 2019 Emmy Awards, during which she lamented how transgender people are “persecuted” in today’s society.
During the speech, Arquette reflected upon the death of her transgender brother, Alexis Arquette, who passed away in 2016 due to HIV-related cardiac arrest.
“I just have to say I’m grateful to be working,” said Arquette, as reported by Buzzfeed. “I’m grateful at 50 to be getting the best parts of my life, and that’s great,” Arquette said. “But in my heart, I’m so sad I lost my sister Alexis and that trans people are still being persecuted.”
“I’m in mourning, Alexis, and I will be the rest of my life for you until we change the world, until trans people are not persecuted,” Arquette continued. “And give them jobs. They’re human beings, let’s give them jobs, let’s get rid of this bias that we have everywhere.”
Arquette received a standing ovation from several actors in the crowd, including Laverne Cox and “Pose” actress Dominique Jackson, who told Variety after the show that Arquette spoke important truths. “It’s so important for someone with power like her to stand up,” Jackson said. “That is an ally.”
Speaking with reporters backstage, Arquette reflected on how she misses Alexis and also fired off some statistics about the difficulties facing transgender people.
“I’m having a wonderful time in my career, I never saw it coming,” she said. “I’m getting the greatest roles of my life, working with great people, but also because I’ve been working so much, I haven’t completely processed my sister Alexis’s death. … I feel like I’m just starting to process this, so to be here tonight, it would be inauthentic to not talk about my whole self and where I am, where my heart is, where my thoughts are. I really miss my sister.”
“Trans women of America make less than $10,000 a year — deep poverty,” she continued. “Trans women of America have a life expectancy of 35 years. That is not acceptable. Jokes are common, [and] you don’t see them getting employed everywhere. I think we can change this if we care to — and I care to. And I want to make the world a better place for all the kids of today.”
Patricia Arquette has used award ceremonies to give political or social speeches. In 2015, when she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Boyhood,” she used the moment to preach about the gender pay gap.
“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights, it’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America,” she said.
At the Screen Actors Guild Awards this past January, Arquette also used the moment to thank Special Counsel Robert Mueller for his role investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. “Thank you, Robert Mueller, and everyone working to make sure that we have sovereignty for the United States of America,” she said at the time.