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Pose star Angelica Ross believes Kamala Harris ‘holds herself accountable’ on her uneven trans rights record

Reiss Smith August 12, 2020
Angelica Ross and Kamala Harris

Angelica Ross is backing Kamala Harris all the way to the White House. (Getty)

Kamala Harris “held herself accountable” on her trans rights record, Pose star Angelica Ross said as she came out swinging for the Democrat’s bid for the vice presidency.

After Joe Biden named Harris as his running mate, Ross was one of many to congratulate the Democrat on her historic nomination.

Calling her “the right choice for this moment”, Ross vowed to “support as well as hold you accountable”, as she said Harris has invited her to do.

“Now let’s focus on both the work to be done now for Breonna Taylor and come November!” she added.

The actor and activist shared photos of herself with Harris, taken during the LGBTQ Presidential Forum which she hosted in September, when the Democrat was running for her party’s top nomination.

Ross opened the forum by loudly proclaiming “Black trans lives matter”, and during that same night, Harris was put on the spot over her actions towards trans people as a public prosecutor.

“In this conversation and several following this one, I called Kamala in to talk about her record on trans people and sex workers and non violent offenders,” Ross recalled.

“She acknowledged her role in collaborating with the state that destroyed many Black lives and shared the moment she realised how she could use her position to change the system while still protecting us from violent offenders, especially those most vulnerable to domestic and intimate partner violence.

“I talked about trans women being out in men’s prisons and with men in ICE detention centres. I spoke on the need to decriminalise sex work to empower both cis and trans women.

“This was not just a photo op for me, this was an opportunity to truly speak truth to power. The ripple effect of this moment is evidence to me that I can indeed effect change. We all can.”

While serving as California’s attorney general, Harris sent a brief seeking to deny two trans inmates gender-affirming surgery.

She addressed this during the September event, explaining: “When that case came up, I had clients, and one of them was the California Department of Corrections. It was their policy. When I learned about what they were doing, behind the scenes, I got them to change the policy.”

She added: “I commit to you that always in these systems there are going to be these things that these agencies do. And I will commit myself, as I always have, to dealing with it.”

Kamala Harris wins Shea Diamond’s approval.

At an Equality Town Hall in October, Kamala Harris once again defended her record on LGBT+ rights.

Angelica Ross told of how on the same night, she introduced Harris to her friend, the singer Shea Diamond, “another Black trans woman who rightfully had questions about her record as a prosecutor”.

“Shea did not go easy on her and took her to task on the points and Kamala was open,” Ross tweeted.

“Kamala was open, apologetic and held herself accountable.”

Diamond herself recalled the encounter on instagram, echoing Ross’ words.

“I had strong reservations about supporting her, we had a long conversation that addressed my concerns and she held herself accountable.”

“Stand against the Trump administration who are currently the leaders in mainstream transphobia and anti-Blackness,” Diamond added.

View this post on Instagram

I had the please of meeting @joebiden in 2018, Thanks to my friends @humanrightscampaign and i meet @kamalaharris last year Thanks to my sister @angelicaross i had strong reservations about supporting her, we had a long conversation that addressed my concerns and she held herself accountable!!! She is a real leader congratulations Kamala Harris I’m proud to see this day! Vote for this powerful Duo and let’s get @realdonaldtrump out of the White House and really try to make America great!!! I’m challenging my friends and family to support as well. Stand against the Trump administration who are currently the leaders in mainstream Transphobia and anti blackness! #2020voteblue #2020votethemout #joebiden2020 #bidenharris2020 #makeamericademocraticagain #transrightsarehumanrights #Translivesmatter #blacktranslivesmatter #vote #voteblue2020

A post shared by Shea Diamond (@iamsheadiamond) on

On the whole, Harris’ record on LGBT+ rights is deemed to be strong. She fought against California’s ban on equal marriage as attorney general, and as a senator she signed friend-of-the-court briefs arguing that trans people should be allowed to use their bathroom of choice. She also co-sponsored the Equality Act, which during her campaign she vowed to initiate on her first day in the White House.

However, as well as the concerns raised around Harris’ record on trans rights, some have also questioned her history regarding sex work and policing.

As attorney general Harris fought to close down a platform many sex workers used to vet potential clients. She was later one of many Democrats in the Senate to support SESTA/FOSTA, a pair of anti-sex-trafficking bills which sex workers have widely criticised, arguing that they prevent them from being able to do their work safely and independently.

Today, however, Harris supports decriminalisation of sex work. She says that her previous stance (she once called decriminalisation “completely ridiculous”) was a result of her wanting to criminalise pimps and clients, an explanation which has not assuaged everybody’s concerns.

On policing, Harris used to proudly refer to herself as a “top cop”, a label which now haunts her. She has been accused of standing by as Black people were murdered by police, rejecting pleas to intervene and investigate police shootings, refusing to reform parole programs and enforcing laws which sent a disproportionate number of Black people to prison.

Her position appears to have evolved in recent years however, and in June she spoke about “reimagining how we do public safety in America”. She also drafted the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act with Cory Booker, which seeks to combat racial bias in policing as well as police misconduct and the use of excessive force.

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