Classical-crossover singer Jackie Evancho and her transgender older sister Juliet opened up about Jackie’s forthcoming inauguration ceremony performance, the backlash and a pending lawsuit over transgender rights in an interview with the New York Times.
The 16-year-old singer is slated to perform the National Anthem at Donald Trump’s inauguration; she’s the only solo performer on the bill. The president-elect has had issues booking celebrities for the event, with controversy surrounding the Radio City Rockettes’ participation and many artists turning down performance invitations.
“I just kind of thought that this is for my country,” Jackie, who was the runner-up in 2010’s America’s Got Talent, said of her decision to perform. “So if people are going to hate on me, it’s for the wrong reason.”
Both sisters told the newspaper that they’ve been experiencing backlash, among the onslaught is Jackie being called a “traitor” online to 18-year-old Juliet being called “queer” at school. Juliet came out as transgender in 2015. She and her family have filed a lawsuit against their suburban Pittsburgh school district over her right to use women’s bathrooms. Jackie and Juliet attend Pine-Richland High School in Gibsonia, PA.
Juliet said she would not be attending her sister’s inauguration performance due to “prior engagements,” though she added she would be there in spirit. The sisters said that the decision had nothing to do with politics. According to their father Mike, it’s unclear whether Juliet, or the rest of the family for that matter, are invited to the inauguration.
Members of the Evancho family seemed to steer clear of any political connections in the interview. Jackie, who has performed at a Trump event previously at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, maintained that there isn’t a conflict between her singing at Trump’s inauguration and her supporting her sister’s legal rights.
“For me it’s not political,” Jackie said. “It’s just accepting people for who they are.”
Their father, who would not reveal to the newspaper who he voted for in the presidential election, also said that presidential politics did not play a hand in the decision to file the lawsuit with Juliet. “We’re fighting this discrimination at the high school,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who’s going into office, we would still fight that fight.”
Like her father and sister, Juliet also insisted her motivation for suing the school district had nothing to do with politics. “I’m getting out and advocating,” she said. “It’s not really for any superpolitical aspect when it comes to the presidency.”
Jackie Evancho is scheduled to perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony on January 20th.