Leyna Bloom on the lack of trans women of color at the Met Gala: “We deserve to be seen”

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 13: Leyna Bloom attends the 2021 Met Gala benefit

Leyna Bloom at the 2021 Met Gala. Image Source: Taylor Hill/WireImage

When model and actress Leyna Bloom attended the 2021 Met Gala, she wasn’t the only trans woman of color to shine at fashion’s biggest night — “Pose” stars Janet Mock and Indya Moore celebrated the moment with her. It was a big year for trans representation; Elliot Page also walked out as transgender for the first time since coming out.

But when Bloom tuned in to this year’s Met Gala on May 1, she was shocked to see no record of transgender people of color attending the event. She even took to Instagram to point that out.

“These are spaces that have so much power in terms of representation,” Bloom tells POPSUGAR. “We’ve been here and we deserve to be seen in these spaces, to showcase our self-expression, our imagination and our freedom.”

“We deserve to be seen in these spaces.”

While there were people of color who identified as queer on Monday — Lil Nas X, Doja Cat, Janelle Monáe — Bloom saw the omission of trans women of color as particularly glaring in a year of unprecedented anti-trans legislation and violence. Trans women of color experience some of the highest rates of violence in the queer community, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

“We are literally being killed,” says Bloom. “There are more of us in body bags than at the Met Gala, at the Golden Globes, at the Emmys.”

At the event, Dwyane Wade — whose daughter, Zaya Wade, came out as transgender in 2020 — drew attention to trans issues as he walked alongside his wife, Gabrielle Union. He spoke about the high suicide rates in the trans community and the importance of acceptance. “Let’s make sure our kids have the chance to live this life we’re all going to live,” he told a reporter from Variety.

This year’s Met Gala didn’t come without other controversies. Many criticized the event for honoring the late fashion designer and creative director Karl Lagerfeld, who spent his life making derogatory remarks about immigrants, fat people and survivors of sexual assault, among others. On May 2, Jameela Jamil called out those who supported the event in any capacity given Lagerfeld’s history. (Vogue did not immediately respond to POPSUGAR’s request for comment.)

Bloom — who made history many times over, most notably as the first trans woman of color to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swim issue — plans to host an Instagram Live Friday at 6 p.m. ET to create more space for trans – and non-binary people to talk through the event and what representation means to them.

“When you really think about our queer, trans, non-binary culture, you see this life force, this sacred energy that brings people together and doesn’t separate people. And when you have that next to our cisgender brothers and sisters, it allows us to visible — in the same photos, in the same conversations, on the same red carpet, in clothes designed by the same designers,” she says. “That’s why it’s so important.”

And meanwhile, Bloom envisions a future where the Met Gala looks a little different. “It should be a space for all forms of imagination from all walks of life,” she adds. “That means it includes anyone who can dream and anyone who helps people with their dreams.”

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