Last night’s episode of Pose addressed the violence faced by transgender woman of color — historically and today. The episode is earning critical acclaim, as well as high emotions from critics and viewers alike.
Pose, which airs on FX, is a Ryan Murphy show set in 1980s and 90s New York City. It focuses on the ballroom scene and features the most number of series regular transgender actors, as well as trans writers and directors.
Warning: Spoilers for this week’s episode.
In Tuesday (9 July) night’s episode of Pose, the series lost one of its supporting characters: Candy, played by trans actor Angelica Ross.
She’s found murdered and the episode both reckons with how this shakes the community she belonged to and gives Candy an opportunity to find peace.
Murphy co-wrote the episode with Janet Mock.
The pair told Deadline the series deals with two epidemics: the AIDS crisis and violence against trans people. The former has been present since the first season, while the latter came to a head this week.
Pose star Indya Moore reacts
Indya Moore, who plays Angel in the show, penned an intimate and emotionally wrought thread on Twitter about the episode.
They described it as ‘triggering and way to [sic] close to home’. They added the day the cast filmed Candy’s funeral, it was the day they found out about Muhlaysia Booker’s death.
Booker was a transgender woman from Dallas, Texas who was found dead in May — only a month after she was brutally attacked by a mob.
‘During set we cried, were angry and tried to maintaining, “professionality,” stay focused on the job,’ Moore explained. ‘But seeing Angelica in the casket, crying was too close to home. Her tears mirrored our black trans ancestors before they were murdered.’
Moore added Ross was the first trans person they’d ever seen in a casket. Layleen Polanco was the second. Polanco was found dead at Rikers in June.
‘This scene was so close to home for all of us,’ Moore continued. ‘The monthly string of trans murders already had me emotionally distraught and broke into my work.’
So far in 2019, 11 known transgender people have been killed in the US, all of whom have been black women. Seven of these murders all occurred in the months of May and June.
Moore’s tweets then turned towards those still living.
‘My heart goes out to all of us still alive left with the pain of our sisters and siblings who are gone,’ they wrote. ‘My heart goes out to the families and parents of trans women murdered everywhere and to my community, who has been greatly triggered by this episode, I see your tweets and I resonate with your thoughts and concerns.
‘Everything you feel and the patterns you see are valid. I love you all so much.’
They also addressed viewers who are not trans women of color and told them to ‘remember that we aren’t just actors… on this show’ and to ‘keep that in mind next time it’s time to vote, and when your children come out to you, and when you see anti trans verbal, physical, or emotional violence happening ANYWHERE’.
They ended their thread remembering the trans women of color who have died this year with the reminder that the life expectancy of transgender people in the US is just 35-years-old.
What’s next for Ross?
Ross may no longer be playing Candy on Pose, but she already has her next project lined up.
The actor revealed on Twitter on Wednesday (10 July) she’s starring in another upcoming Murphy show: the ninth season of American Horror Story.
As Ross details in the tweet, she is now the first transgender actor with two series regular roles under their belt.
American Horror Story season nine is subtitled 1984 and it takes place — that’s right — in the 80s. Set at a summer camp, the season is going to be the series’ first slasher storyline.
American Horror Story: 1984 premieres on 18 September. Pose season two is currently airing on FX.