Sixteen-Year-Old Jackie Evancho is Pushing Back Harder on the Trans Rollback Than Caitlyn Jenner
After Wednesday evening saw President Trump withdraw guidelines set by the Department of Education and the Department of Justice allowing public school students to use whichever restroom the felt most in line with their gender identity (as opposed to their assigned gender), it seemed the entirety of the U.S. was waiting for reality TV (semi-) star and transgender darling Caitlyn Jenner‘s response. It arrived in the latter part of Thursday evening. And, boy, was it a wet fart.
— Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) February 24, 2017
Jenner looks lovely and composed as always. And herein lies the rub: She is, perhaps, too composed. Her words are obviously memorized, if not partially read off cue cards in front of her. The video had a message for everyone: Trans students (“You’re winning”), their bullies (“You’re sick”), and President Trump (“This is a disaster”). The video Jenner posted to Twitter looks more like an orange juice TV spot than a formal statement by an LGBTQ advocate. Moreover, her words come off as platitudes — she strung together a bunch of semi-impassioned statements in the hopes that no one would notice that she is, in fact, saying very little on the matter. Sure, she gives a shoutouts to the National Center for Gender Equality and Gavin Grimm’s upcoming Supreme Court case, but given her status and visibility many expected her to have a much stronger (not to mention more active) response to this major setback for trans people. And her coy ending — “Call me.” — seems more like she was just looking for a snappy way to wrap things up than an actual invitation to start a productive dialogue with the president.
And then there’s 16-year-old Jackie Evancho, who caused a stir when she accepted the invitation to sing the national anthem at Trump’s inauguration given that she has a transgender sister, Juliet. Evancho stated at the time that she accepted the invitation to sing because “[i]t was for the honor and privilege to perform for my country,” going on, carefully to admit “that will stay the same I think.” Evancho’s first tweet in response to the rollback came at 3pm on Wednesday, before an official announcement was even made.
— jackie evancho (@jackieevancho) February 22, 2017
Not long after the news broke, the teenaged opera singer took to Twitter again.
— jackie evancho (@jackieevancho) February 23, 2017
The difference in Jenner’s response and Evancho’s response is simple and powerful: Evancho asserts herself, where Jenner demurs. A 16-year-old stands up for her sister more strongly than an actual transgender person stands up for herself and those in her community. And who knows. Maybe Jenner has already reached out to the White House in response to all of this. The fact that she remained silent for the better part 24 hours following the announcement makes me think to the contrary, but you never know.
At the presser earlier today, when asked about the possibility of a meeting with Evancho, press secretary Sean Spicer said, “I think the president would be welcome to meet with her.” In an interview with CNN, the Evancho girls, thrilled with the response, saw that this was so much bigger than this one issue, with Jackie saying, “We’re trying to work to piece America together again.”
A 16-year-old is worried about her part in trying to piece the country back together, and is saying as much on a national platform. While Caitlyn Jenner, perhaps the most famous transgender person in history, is waiting around for the president to call her. It would seem that in this moment Ms. Jenner should take a page from the Evancho girls playbook.
[image via screengrab]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.