Kamala Harris gained at least one vote this November. Angelica Ross came out swinging yesterday in support of the California senator’s selection as expected Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s vice-presidential running mate. The trans actor, entrepreneur, activist, and Pose star had previously expressed concerns about Harris’s record on trans rights.
“You are the right choice for this moment,” Ross posted on Instagram. “I’m with you Kamala Harris. From our 1-on-1 talks you know I’m here to support as well as hold you accountable as you’ve invited me to do.”
The former presidential hopeful had among the most robust LGBTQ+ platforms of any candidate in the race. LGBTQ+ advocates remained critical, however, of her support as senator for FOSTA/SESTA, a pair of sex trafficking bills targeting sex workers. Harris was also heavily criticized for arguing against medically necessary treatment for trans inmates and policies that imprisoned many Black persons unjustly.
Ross wrote how she confronted Harris over these issues, and that Harris “acknowledged her role in collaborating with the state that destroyed many Black lives” and that she now realizes she can “use her position to change the system” while still protecting society.
In an op-ed written last year for Out, attorney and LGBTQIA+ activist Chase Strangio called out Harris for arguing in court that “trans people in prison should not have access to medically necessary care” and “that sex work should be criminalized because it facilitates the spread of HIV.” He also criticized Harris for California’s “constitutionally overcrowded” prison system.
“By opposing health care for trans prisoners and aggressively supporting criminalization of sex work, Harris’s work has contributed to some of the most violent conditions faced by trans people, particularly trans women of color, in California and across the country,” he wrote.
Harris, though, has since taken "full responsibility" for opposing state-funded surgeries for incarcerated trans women while she served as California's attorney general.
“But the bottom line is the buck stops with me, and I take full responsibility for what my office did,” Harris said at a news conference last year when asked a question about her record on trans rights in both her past role as California’s attorney general and currently as the state’s senator.
Ross came to Harris’s defense in her post, saying she addressed the “need to decriminalize sex work to empower both cis and trans women,” She was also quick to point out “this was not just a photo op.”
“This was an opportunity to truly speak truth to power,” Ross posted, noting how the conversation inspired her to action. “The ripple effect of this moment is evidence to me that I can indeed effect change. We all can.”