QUEER VOICES
01/12/2017 10:21 am ET Updated Jan 12, 2017

Donald Trump's Inauguration Singer Speaks Out Against Transgender Bathroom Bills

“For me it’s not political,” the 16-year-old classical crossover singer said. “It’s just accepting people for who they are.”

Jackie Evancho has agreed to sing at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration ― but that doesn’t mean she has to agree with his party’s anti-LGBTQ platform.

Evancho, who rose to fame on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” is the only solo act signed on to perform at the Jan. 20 event so far. And while the 16-year-old classical crossover singer is facing harsh criticism for her decision to perform, she’s helping fight another battle.

Jackie’s sister Juliet came out as transgender in 2015 and is one of three transgender students suing a Pennsylvania school district over their right to use the bathrooms that best correspond with their gender identity.

Jackie Evancho, at left, and Juliet Evancho attend the 2015 Global Lyme Alliance Gala on Oct. 8, 2015, in New York City.
Chance Yeh via Getty Images
Jackie Evancho, at left, and Juliet Evancho attend the 2015 Global Lyme Alliance Gala on Oct. 8, 2015, in New York City.

“For me it’s not political,” Jackie said about trans rights in an interview with The New York Times published Wednesday. “It’s just accepting people for who they are.”

Juliet, 18, told the Times she will not attend the inauguration. She said she has “prior engagements” but will be there “in spirit.” It’s not clear whether she received an invitation to the event.

The incoming administration’s dubious position on transgender rights is of great concern to many LGBTQ activists.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence has railed against a directive put forward by President Barack Obama’s administration that threatens public schools’ funding if they fail to allow trans students access to bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.

“The federal government has no business getting involved in issues of this nature,” Pence said in May.

In April, the president-elect said he was fine with allowing trans people to use whichever bathroom they prefer. But nearly three months later, he voiced his support for a North Carolina law that bars them from doing just that.

Mike Evancho, Jackie and Juliet’s father, wouldn’t tell the Times who he voted for in the 2016 presidential election, but said his political leanings weren’t a factor in the family’s decision to support Juliet’s legal battle.

“We’re fighting this discrimination at the high school,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who’s going into the office, we would still fight that fight.”

Jackie said her inauguration appearance won’t stop her from being able to “100 percent” support her sister’s fight for legal rights.

Trump tweeted earlier this month that Jackie’s record sales “skyrocketed” after she announced her inauguration performance, though there is little evidence to support this claim.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to Jackie Evancho as a country singer. She is a classical crossover singer.

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