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Jackie Evancho Wants to Talk Trans Rights With Trump—If Only She Hadn’t Performed At His Inauguration

I’m trying to keep in mind that Jackie Evancho is sixteen. She’s young, not yet legally able to vote, andpossibly because of her age (though there are plenty of politically aware teenagers), possibly because her focus on her career has kept her shelteredshe doesn’t see the connection between performing at a man’s Presidential Inauguration and implicitly endorsing his administration. She did it “for her country.”

Evancho’s sister, Juliet, is transgender. So, when the news broke of the current administration rolling back President Obama’s guidelines to protect trans students at schools across the country, she reached out directly to the President via his favorite method of communication, Twitter, with the above tweet, asking him to meet with her and her sister to talk about transgender rights.

Does she think that all the President needs in light of his and his administration’s rampant racism, sexism, and anti-LGBTQIA sentiment is a firm talking-to?

I’m trying to keep in mind that Jackie Evancho is sixteen. I’m sure I was much more naive then. How much did I really pay attention to the world around me at sixteen? How easy was it for me to connect the dots?

It’s clear that she loves her sister, and it’s great that she’s trying to find a way to speak out against the injustice that happened today—one in a long list of many injustices. What I hope that she, and perhaps her fans, will learn is that we all need to see signs a lot earlier and pay attention so that we can prevent injustice, rather than waiting for injustice to happen before we do something about it.

The anti-LGBTQIA sentiment from the President’s camp was crystal clear straight out of the gate. I don’t care how many rainbow flags Trump staffers scrawl “LGBTs for Trump” on, or how many times he references the LGBTQIA community in speeches. I can’t understand someone seeing all of that and…waiting to see what happens. The people who can afford to do that are the people with the least to lose. Then again, at this rate, we’re all losing something.

There’s a saying about people being defined by the company they keep, and Trump keeps company with known and avowed white supremacists, sexists, homophobes, and transphobes. Should we somehow not equate him with those things? Now remember, he’s not just “keeping company” with them. They’re not just his pals (which would be bad enough). He’s putting them in positions of power. He’s giving them the power to make decisions on behalf of American citizens.

The “being defined by the company they keep” thing applies even when not discussing world leaders. When one chooses to, say, perform at an event honoring a person, it’s reasonable to expect that the performer themselves honors that person. You can’t decide it’s not a political act just because you declare it isn’t. Everything is political, especially if you’re a member of a marginalized group (Juliet is trans, both Evancho siblings are female). That’s the way it is until we actually achieve equality across all categories.

I’m trying to keep in mind that Jackie Evancho is sixteen. She has time to learn, and I hope that she’s learned this now. In addition to reaching out to the President on this issue, I hope that she’ll become more active in her home state of Pennsylvania, ensuring that trans rights are protected there. I hope she finds her political voice.

I’m not saying she has to make activism her life, but I think it’s important that she, as well as other young people her age, start thinking about what they expect of their government and country, and how they might work toward achieving that. She’s clearly someone who cares very deeply. I hope she learns to translate that into action (or non-action, depending on what’s appropriate). She can use her voice to sing and speak out.

And perhaps her fans will look at what’s happening here, and think about the places in which they’re willing to stand (or not) in allyship more mindfully. One can only hope.

(via The Hollywood Reporter, featured image via Jackie Evancho’s Twitter profile)

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