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Jackie Evancho is a proud supporter of her transgender sister Juliet Evancho and the struggle for transgender equality, it would be fantastic if we could have a world and a society of equal opportunities for all regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, and where this is embodied in human rights, which is accepted and respected by all.
How one girl came out as transgender to her family
— and the entire world.
You don’t have to sacrifice who you are in order to be loved and accepted.
Gender Dysphoria is a heated topic lately, but I’ve been living this “hot topic” since I was quite young. My name is Juliet Evancho — but I was born Jacob.
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, for as long as I can remember I’ve always been into what would be classified as ‘girly’ things. I played dress up with my sister Jackie, loved Barbies, and occasionally we’d raid my mom’s makeup kits together. My parents noticed that I had zero interest in the typical “boy” toys and activities and began to question things. I can even remember getting very upset one Christmas when Jackie got a Barbie dollhouse and I got a remote-controlled truck. I can remember talking to my mom about my feelings. I told her I don’t think I’m gay — there's more to it than that. I feel like I really am a girl. At the time, I had never heard of the word "transgender." My mom pointed out the term and I began researching it. This led to a conversation with my doctor, as we wondered if this was normal behavior. My parents and I discussed it with him and he told us, “He isn’t insisting you call him Mary, so I don’t think he's transgender. He'll probably grow out of it.”
After this non-diagnosis, our family continued on with our lives, and I continued to suppress those feelings. I played little league baseball and joined cub scouts, but deep down I knew I wasn’t just experimenting or exploring my feminine side. By the time I was 11, I took those internal thoughts and verbalized them to myself as I looked in the mirror. I said, 'I am a girl trapped in a boy’s body.'
Around this same time, my sister Jackie made her debut on America’s Got Talent, and became an overnight star. I began to worry because not only did I feel “different," but Jackie’s newfound fame put our entire family under a microscope. This made things even more difficult for me. Now, I not only worried about what my family thought of me, but I also worried about some trashy magazine trying to make a spectacle out of me if they found out, and it hurting my family. Personally, however, I saw this self discovery as positive thing, whether it fit the norm or not.
After a year, I decided to make a change and stated growing out my hair. My sister meanwhile, was busy recording her second album, Songs from the Silver Screen. Because I too enjoyed singing — and am pretty good — I was asked to record a duet with her. The track was 'I See the Light' from the movie Tangled. I obviously sang the male part, which in my eyes was a huge step backwards. Everyone who listened to that song heard a boy, but I knew I was a girl.
The turning point for me was when we recorded a PBS television special to accompany the album. My hair growing efforts had left my mane in a rather awkward phase, and the makeup artist decided to give me a trim. Did I look like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo? Yes. But was that the best representation of who I really was? Yes. I did my best not to cry.
After that show aired I slowly started to tell the people closest to me about my suspected gender-dysphoria. 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.
For a while I did what I’d always done, play dress up around the house with a wig, some clothes, and a pair of fake breasts my mother bought to help me feel more like the person I was on the inside. It wasn’t enough; I was still only free to be me within the walls of my house. The rest of the world still knew me as Jacob, a boy. Every time I looked in the mirror, a girl looked back, just wanting the rest of the world to see her too.
Jump forward a couple of years of still publicly living my lie to everyone except my immediate family. After talking it over with my parents and therapists, we decided that the best time to reveal my true self to the public would be my 17th birthday. We gathered all of my extended family at a pool party and I told them, "Guys, I'm transgender."
There was a brief, really awkward silence and I thought for a split moment that I had just ruined my relationship with most of my family, but those thoughts were soon interrupted by an uproar of applause and cheers from everyone. Everyone told me they loved me just as much as when I was Jacob. I realized pretty quickly just how lucky I am to have such a supportive family.
A few days after that, I began to go out in public as a girl, and I couldn’t care less what anyone thought of me. I realized through therapy and by just maturing that I could no longer live my life worried about what others thought. I had to live my life for me. It may sound selfish, but the fact of the matter is that the suicide rate among the transgender community, especially the teen transgender community, is astronomically high and I was not going to contribute to that statistic.
I have such a supportive family — even my dad came around eventually telling me, “Jacob, you’re still my child whether you’re a boy or a girl and I will always love and support you. It will take me a while to get used to calling you by another name and I’ll slip occasionally but I’ll get there and help you in any way I can.”
This hasn’t been an easy road, and I sometimes still ask myself “Why me?” I’ve seen many hateful things online regarding the transgender community from people who hide behind a computer screen, and say things like, “God doesn’t make mistakes,” quoting Bible verses that condemn my transition, and they say I’m doing this for attention. I know God made me this way and guided me through this process. He also gave me a large platform to share my story so that I can show others who have similar stories and struggles that there is light at the end of the tunnel. So I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to sacrifice who you are in order to be loved and accepted. On my 17th birthday my life finally began.
In august 2017, TLC TV showed a TV reality speciel 'Growing Up Evancho'. The Evanchos are a typical American family with some seriously no t-so-typical circumstances. Home life isn't any less hectic, with Jackie's older sister, Juliet, navigating her dream of becoming a model as a transgendered woman. As Juliet grows as an LGBTQ activist and Jackie's pop stardom rises, this family faces some major drama you won't want to miss. You can see the TLC TV speciel here.
My sister Jackie even dedicated her version of 'All of the Stars' to me and told my story through the video that accompanied the song.
All Of The Stars:
Note from Jackies website about this song:
The video is very close to Jackie’s heart as it was inspired by her own personal experience of someone close to her who is going through transitioning and are transgender. It’s a tribute to the bravery and personal journey that people go through as transitioning transgender teens. The video features a girl and a boy, looking into the mirror and confronting images of themselves that are very different from reality. When Jackie looks in the mirror, staring back at her is a beautiful and glamorous version of herself. When the boy gazes into the mirror, a girl stares back…the girl he has always felt like on the inside. “I was inspired to make this video after witnessing personally the struggle that people go through as young transitioning teens. The person they see in the mirror doesn’t match the person they feel inside. And while our struggles are different, I could relate to their insecurities as I have my own issues with self-image…as I think most teens do at one point or another. This video is about empathy, communication and self-appreciation. For me, it has been learning to love myself, flaws and all. For others, it is about being true to the person that they always wanted to be. Everyone wants to feel accepted but I think that starts from within, even if people don’t always agree with your choices. We are all unique stars in the sky and what makes us unique makes us beautiful,” says Jackie.
You can read the lyrics to Jackies song 'All Of The Stars', right here.
|Date: 15 august 2015||
Source: Jackie Evancho Vevo
The Brave Heart Foundation:
There are 1.6 million homeless youth in the US and 40% identify as LGBTQ. Increased legal and social acceptance has encouraged young people to come out earlier; however, because of family rejection and/or abuse, they end up homeless. Therefore, family conflict, aging out of foster care and poverty are the main reasons that the rate of homelessness I so high for the LGBTQ population in general.
As a result, a cascade of events can and do often occur for this group in order to survive and cope. This cascade can result in drug and alcohol addiction, prostitution and survival sex, and petty crime which all lead to further trauma. In addition a lack of access to health care and mental health services, lack of available stable, safe, secure, and affirming housing can lead to poor life outcomes. The homeless LGBTQ population is 9 x more likely to become infected with HIV. Due to a lack of federal, state and local funds there aren’t enough programs and organizations that can support this population. The Brave Heart Foundation aims to fill this void through it's programs, services, and collaboration with other human and social service agencies.
The Brave Heart Foundation (TBHF) will provide a safe, enriching, and affirmative place for homeless LGBTQ young adults ages 18-26, that will provide the emotional support and overall care needed for a healthy transition into adulthood. TBHF empowers homeless LGBTQ youth adults to reach their full potential (regardless past barriers) through a variety of long-term, comprehensive support programs designed to provide resources and access to education, medical care, emotional support, health and well- being, and career support.
Whether you help through monetary donations, volunteering your time, or spreading our mission through word-of-mouth, thank you. We couldn't accomplish our goals without the help of supporters like you.
LBGTQ rights in Denmark:
Many countries should have the same LBGTQ rights as we have in Denmark.
Legal change of gender is allowed in Denmark without a medical expert statement and without surgey. In fact this has been legal in Denmark since 1929.
The Danish Parlament decided to remove transgender gender identity from the National Board of Health's list of mental illnesses in 2016. The change came into effect on 1'st of january 2017. In fact Denmark was the first country in the world to do this.
It is illegal to physically or verbally assault anyone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It is considered a more serious offence if an assault or harassment is carried out because of the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Assaults may be reported to the police, and the perpetrators will be prosecuted.
It is illegal to discriminate anyone on ground of their sexual orientation or gender identity within the labour market. It is also illegal to discriminate anyone on the ground of their gender (and gender identity) regarding access to goods and services. Discrimination may be reported to the Board of Equal Treatment. Public authorities are required to treat everybody equal within the law – also regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Family reunification may be granted to spouses, registered partners or cohabiting partners, regardless of their sex or gender. There are certain requirements regarding for example housing and means of subsistence. Also, if you have children, a foreign national under the age of 18 whose parents are living permanently in Denmark can be granted a residence permit, provided that certain requirements are met.
Marriage and partnership:
Two persons of the same sex can marry in Denmark. Marriage is gender neutral according to Danish Law. Marriage between two persons of the same sex entitles them to the same rights as heterosexual married couples. One can get married either in the civil registry offices (a non-religious ceremony carried out by the municipality) or in the Church of Denmark (Protestant) provided at least one partner is member of the church. Denmark also broke the heteronormative mold in 1989, when it became the first country ever to officially recognize state-sanctioned same-sex partnerships in 1989.
LBGTQ soldiers can serve without hindrance in all branches of the Danish Defence. Discrimination against LBGTQ soldiers in recruitment, placement and promotion is prohibited in Denmark. Infact LGBTQ people has been allowed to serve openly in military since 1978.
Copenhagen Pride is an annual LBGTQ pride event held in August in Copenhagen, Denmark. About 40,000 people marched in the 2018 Copenhagen Pride parade, and a further 300,000 people attended the event and were out in the streets to experience it.
LGBTQ students looking to study in Denmark:
In addition to consistently being rated as the happiest country in the world, Denmark is also known as one of the most LGBTQ friendly countries in the world. In Denmark you can feel comfortable in your own skin, find a thriving, active LBGTQ community, and be out and proud of your gender identity and sexual orientation.
A 2015 Eurobarometer found that 87% of Danes thought that same-sex marriage should be allowed throughout Europe. Additionally, in that same poll, 90% thought that LBGT people should have the same rights as heterosexuals, and 88% agreed that there is nothing wrong about a sexual relationship between two people of the same sex.
My own opinion: It would be fantastic if we could have a world and a society of equal opportunities for all regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, and where this is embodied in human rights, which is accepted and respected by all.
~ Bo - Webmaster (www.jackie-evancho.dk)