“I had internalised so much shame.”

Playing a sex worker on Pose has been a cathartic experience for Indya Moore.

In an interview with ES Magazine, the American actor and model said Pose has “really destigmatised sex work” for those who watch the show, and especially for themselves, because they had “internalised so much shame” from their past.

They were worried that their past as a sex worker would be outed in the industry and harm their chances at attaining success. However, Indya is now able to talk openly about it without fear, which they describe as “beautiful and liberating”.

“I just never thought that I would have that,” they said, before explaining that they found an escape throughout their privilege of being “conventionally attractive, of having a form of beauty that is marketable”.

“That’s not the reality of most trans people,” they explained. “There’s still a certain type of trans person that is visible, and it’s still a trans person that looks cis, is gender-conforming to an extent, that is easy on the eyes of cis people.”

Last month, Indya dedicated their outfit at the Daily Front Row’s annual Fashion Media Awards to murdered trans women.

They wore earrings consisting of portraits of the trans women who have been murdered in the US this year: Dana Martin, Jazzaline Ware, Ashanti Carmon, Claire Legato, Muhlaysia Booker, Michelle Washington, Paris Cameron, Chynal Lindsay, Chanel Scurlock, Zoe Spears, Brooklyn Lindsey, Denali Stuckey, Kiki Fantroy, Pebbles LaDime Doe, Tracy Single and Bailey Reeves.

“I feel so honoured to share this space with you people,” they said at the event.

“It’s a very expensive venue. It’s populated by very expensive people. All of our lives are so expensive, including mine and people like me. As you all know, or not, I am black and I am trans.

“Some of you may be uncomfortable with the politics of my speech, and I won’t apologise for that, because my life is politics. I accept this award in honour of the truth that the best award, and the award we all deserve, is to be able to get home safe.

“I accept this award in good faith that my recognition doesn’t lead to the erasure of other trans and gender non-conforming folks who also deserve healthcare, housing, safety, and visibility.”

Indya demanded “safety, acknowledgement and respect” for trans people, “not just when we’re on the cover of magazines, but when we are in the streets, when we are poor, when we are sex workers, when our hair isn’t laid.

“When we can’t afford Louis Vuitton. Or when we can’t get access to a hormone shot, and especially when we are dying.”

Transgender women, in particular, face extraordinarily high levels of violence in the United States. Last year, 26 trans individuals were killed – a majority of which were black and Latina – and 25 of those were women.

19 trans individuals have been killed this year, 18 of which have been trans women of colour.

Read Indya Moore’s full interview with ES Magazine here.

Related: Elizabeth Warren lists the 18 trans women of colour killed in US this year in powerful speech.