Without saying a word, Don Cheadle used his platform between comedic skits on “Saturday Night Live” to make a statement on behalf of transgender youth.
Cheadle hosted Saturday night’s show and introduced musical guest Gary Clark Jr. while wearing a black T-shirt with the words “PROTECT TRANS KIDS” in white letters.
The actor was only on screen for a few seconds in the shirt, but his message is receiving praise from fans and advocacy groups across the internet.
“Thank you Don Cheadle for using your visibility to stand up for trans youth and being an ally to #ProtectTransKids,” tweeted the Human Rights Campaign.
“Trans kids have a (super)hero in their corner now. Thank you @DonCheadle for using your platform to make such an important statement. #ProtectTransKids #WontBeErased,” tweeted the National Center for Transgender Equality.
“@DonCheadle as a trans woman, I want to personally thank you for your Protect Trans Kids message last night on SNL,” tweeted Monika Nemeth, an advocate for transgender rights. “As one who is active in the community, I hear so many terrible stories. Your advocacy helps make a difference.”
Although transgender people’s visibility is at an all-time high, advocates say violence against the transgender community has been getting worse in recent years. And studies have shown the suicide rate is alarmingly high among transgender teens.
His T-shirt wasn’t Cheadle’s only “SNL” fashion choice that made a statement. At the end of the show, he wore a red-and-white Soviet Union hockey jersey as he thanked the cast and crew for a great show. As the credits rolled, Cheadle turned around to reveal “TRUMP” and the number 45 on the back.
Cheadle, star of “Hotel Rwanda, “Traffic” and many other films, has long been an activist for such causes as climate change and ending genocide in Sudan.