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Actress and Trans Activist Alexis Arquette Dies at 47

Actress Alexis Arquette in 2010.

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Alexis Arquette, the transgender activist and member of the Arquette acting family, died early Sunday morning, Variety reports. Her brother Richmond Arquette reported the news in a Facebook post:

Our brother Robert, who became our brother Alexis, who became our sister Alexis, who became our brother Alexis, passed this morning September 11, at 12:32 am. He was surrounded by all of his brothers and sisters, one of his nieces and several other loved ones. We were playing music for him and he passed during David Bowie’s Starman. As per his wishes, we cheered at the moment that he transitioned to another dimension.

Her sister, Patricia Arquette, tweeted a link to David Bowie singing “Starman” a few hours after Alexis’ death:

Alexis was part of the third generation of Arquette family members in show business: Her grandfather Cliff, her father Lewis, and her siblings Rosanna, Richmond, Patricia, and David are all actors. Her breakout role was in Last Exit to Brooklyn, but her brief appearance as the unlucky gunman in Pulp Fiction may have been her most famous. On stage, she played Lee Harvey Oswald in John Malkovich’s Steppenwolf production of Libra. She also performed in drag as “Eva Destruction,” and appeared in character in the 1995 documentary Wigstock: The Movie. In 2007, director Matthew Barbato documented her transition in Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother. Her siblings released the following statement about Alexis’ life and death:

Our sister, Alexis Arquette, passed away this morning, September 11th, 2016.

Alexis was a brilliant artist and painter, a singer, an entertainer and an actor. She starred in movies like Last Exit to Brooklyn, Jumpin’ at the Boneyard, Of Mice and Men, The Wedding Singer, and The Bride of Chucky. Her career was cut short, not by her passing, but by her decision to live her truth and her life as a transgender woman. Despite the fact that there are few parts for trans actors, she refused to play roles that were demeaning or stereotypical. She was a vanguard in the fight for understanding and acceptance for all trans people.

She fiercely lived her reality in a world where it is dangerous to be a trans person—a world largely unready to accept differences among human beings, and where there is still the ugliness of violence and hostility towards people that we may not understand.

Alexis was born as Robert, our brother. We loved him the moment he arrived. But he came in as more than a sibling—he came as our great teacher. As Alexis transitioned into being a woman, she taught us tolerance and acceptance. As she moved through her process, she became our sister, teaching us what real love is.

We learned what real bravery is through watching her journey of living as a trans woman. We came to discover the one truth—that love is everything.

In the days leading to her death, she told us she was already visiting the other side, and that where she was going, there was only one gender. That on the other side, we are free from all of the things that separate us in this life, and that we are all one.

She passed away surrounded by love. We held her and sang her David Bowie’s “Starman” as she punched through the veil to the other side. We washed her body in rose petals and surrounded her with flowers.

Alexis always had to do everything first. She left before we were ready to let her go. We are all heartbroken that she is no longer with us, but we are grateful for the grace and kindness we were all shown during this difficult time. We are comforted by the fact that Alexis came into our family and was our brother and then our sister, and that she gave us so much love. We will love you always, Alexis. We know we were the lucky ones.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers or gifts, donations please be sent to organizations that support the LGBTQ community in honor of Alexis Arquette.

Please respect our privacy during this time of grieving.