It was announced earlier this week that *ugh* that guy has selected Jackie Evancho, 16, to sing the national anthem at his inauguration on Jan. 20. If that name rings a bell, it’s because at the age of 10, she was already a national treasure.
That’s the cute little nugget at the 2010 National Christmas Tree festivities. She got the incredible honor after coming in as the runner-up on “America’s Got Talent” the same year.
What you may not know is that Jackie and the whole Evancho family are getting some attention as well, and in the best possible way.
Jackie’s sister, Juliet (along with two other transgender students), is suing a Pennsylvania school district over its rule that students must use the restroom that corresponds with their anatomical or biological sex.
Until the case is heard by the court or settled, the students are asking a federal judge to force the school to allow them to use restrooms that correspond to their gender identity in the interim.
In a piece in Teen Vogue, Juliet, born Jacob, says she slowly began to tell people about her gender identity as her family was increasingly under scrutiny due to Jackie’s fame.
My mom was the first person I told, although she already suspected it. She simply smiled at me, told me she loved me, and said she’d always be there for me. I then told my sister Jackie. She too was not at all surprised and was very supportive and happy that I found my true self, but at the same time she was terrified about the potential ridicule I’d face for the rest of my life. Finally, I told my dad. My dad took it the hardest, and I couldn’t blame him, even if it hurt me a lot. He tried to hide it, but I could tell. He was, after all, losing his oldest son. Not just his, but the son that had his name as a middle name. My youngest siblings Zach and Rachel were a little too young to fully understand, but I told them, too. Not even my best friends knew the real me. Everyone just assumed I was a feminine gay boy.
All of these circumstances — feeling like an outsider, not fitting neatly into society, and cutting my hair — caused me to slip into a depression. I constantly wondered, ‘Why me?’ Having a close relationship with my family, we decided it would be best for me to seek professional help. For the next 2 years I went to a therapist to help me with my depression, and to uncover the truth of what and who I am. Basically, my therapist just confirmed what I already knew: I am a transgender woman.
Under the Obama administration, you’ll recall that federal agencies like the Department of Justice and the Department of Education had aligned themselves with individuals and organizations fighting for transgender equality. It was a simpler time, really. Right now, a handful of states are suing the Administration over its instruction to schools that, if they receive federal funding, they must “treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of the law.”
Also, keep in mind what the incoming administration wants to do:
- Mike Pence, our incoming Vice President and a long-time opponent of LGBTQ equality, has made clear that under a Trump administration, the federal government will not be stepping in and fighting for these rights saying, “Washington has no business intruding on the operation of our local schools.”
- And in April, in a move surprising no one, Trump stated that he was fine with allowing transgender people to “use the bathroom they feel is appropriate.”
The eternal optimist inside of me wants to believe that these gestures are all being done in good will, but the realist brewing inside knows that this courageous family is about to become a target.