Sunday 25 September 2016

Here’s why first the transgender Oscars nominee is boycotting the ceremony

Published 26/02/2016 | 10:49

British singer Anohni from the group 'Antony and the Johnsons' performs with The Montreux Orchestra on the Miles Davis stage during the 43rd edition of the Montreux Jazz Festival on late July 15, 2009 in Montreux. The popular Swiss festival, running from July 3 to 18, schedules 350 concerts, 260 of them free. AFP PHOTO/ FABRICE COFFRINI
British singer Anohni from the group 'Antony and the Johnsons' performs with The Montreux Orchestra on the Miles Davis stage during the 43rd edition of the Montreux Jazz Festival on late July 15, 2009 in Montreux. The popular Swiss festival, running from July 3 to 18, schedules 350 concerts, 260 of them free. AFP PHOTO/ FABRICE COFFRINI

The first transgender Oscars nominee was about to board the plane to LA when she decided to boycott Sunday's ceremony.

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Anohni has been nominated for Best Original Song for her performance of Manta Ray in the documentary Racing Extinction.

The English singer revealed the reason behind her decision in a lengthy blog post on her website.

She said she was waiting to be invited to perform at the ceremony but the invitation has not been forthcoming, she says, because "the producers seemed to have decided to stage performances only by the singers who ere deemed commercially viable."

Sam Smith, Lady Gaga and The Weeknd have also been nominated in the category and have been invited to perform, as has Dave Grohl, who has not been nominated.

Anohni is not the only artist to be snubbed.  South Korean singer Sumi Jo, who is nominated for Simple Song #3 on Youth, has also not been invited to sing.

She wrote, "Last night I tried to force myself to get on the plane to fly to LA for all the nominee events, but the feelings of embarrassment and anger knocked me back, and I couldn’t get on the plane.

"I imagined how it would feel for me to sit amongst all those Hollywood stars, some of the brave ones approaching me with sad faces and condolences.

"There I was, feeling a sting of shame that reminded me of America’s earliest affirmations of my inadequacy as a transperson. I turned around at the airport and went back home."

Anohni further expressed her upset at the fact the "the next morning the Oscars added that I was transgendered to the trivia page of their website" but added that she does not think the snub is down to her transgender status.

"I was not invited to perform because I am relatively unknown in the U.S., singing a song about ecocide, and that might not sell advertising space," she wrote.

She said that she knows she doesn't have an automatic right to be asked, but added, "If you trace the trail of breadcrumbs, the deeper truth of it is impossible to ignore.

"Like global warming, it is not one isolated event, but a series of events that occur over years to create a system that has sought to undermine me, at first as a feminine child, and later as an androgynous transwoman.

"It is a system of social oppression and diminished opportunities for transpeople that has been employed by capitalism in the US to crush our dreams and our collective spirit."

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