The Boyhood actress was feted for the advocacy work she performs on behalf of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community, at the event held at The Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles.

While accepting the Vanguard Award, Patricia took the opportunity to honour her transgender sister, who died in September (16) from a heart attack, following a battle with HIV.

The 48-year-old praised her sibling's long-held bravery and determination, in spite of the criticism she withstood following her transition.

"She wanted to help move the world forward to a time and future where every trans kid could live their full potential," said Patricia after being given the award by actors Luke Perry and Jeffrey Tambor, according to Entertainment Tonight. "When it wouldn't be uncommon to have, in your everyday life, a doctor, a cop, a real estate agent or public official, who was a transgender person. That they would get jobs, that they would get hired, they would get a shot. She wanted to help move the world forward to a time when they could be seen as complete, whole and equal human beings."

The star also talked about the difficulties Alexis faced in getting acting roles as a transgender woman. And she urged members of the audience to call on political figures and other high-profile names to promote GLAAD's causes in whatever way possible.

"It doesn't matter what colour or gender or faith you are," she said. "There are so many marginalised groups right now under attack. When one of us is vulnerable, all of us are vulnerable."

Other winners at the 28th GLAAD Media Awards include Barry Jenkins' Moonlight being named Outstanding Film in the wide release category, U.S. TV show Shadowhunters nabbing the prize for Outstanding Drama Series and Amazon Studios' Transparent winning for Outstanding Comedy Series.

Singer/songwriter Troye Sivan also made history on the night, as he became the youngest recipient of the Stephen F. Kolzak trophy. Past recipients of the award have included Laverne Cox, Ellen DeGeneres, Ruby Rose, Chaz Bono, Melissa Etheridge and Ian MCKellen.

GLAAD will be holding a second ceremony in New York City on 6 May (17).