Juliet Evancho gets major transgender advocacy platform with new TLC special ‘Growing Up Evancho’

Who is Juliet Evancho 5

Ten year-old Jackie Evancho’s run through the competition in the fifth season of America’s Got Talent made her a near-overnight sensation. Since then, Jackie has released seven albums and given hundreds of concerts to thousands upon thousands of fans–but perhaps no moment in her young career drew more attention than her performance for Donald Trump at the 2016 Presidential Inauguration. Trump’s stance on LGBTQ issues hit especially close to home for Juliet Evancho, Jackie’s older sister, Juliet Evancho, who had come out as transgender to the public only weeks before.

Who is Juliet Evancho March 27 2014 1
Juliet Evancho before publicly acknowledging her gender identity. To the left of the Cirque du Soleil performer in yellow, on March 27, 2014

But who is Juliet Evancho? The 19-year-old, who was born Jacob, explained her lifelong gender confusion in a heartfelt Teen Vogue essay late last year. As a child, Jacob had “zero interest in typical ‘boy’ toys and activities and began to question things,” and was further distressed by a doctor’s early diagnosis: “He’ll probably grow out of it.”

But by age 11, Jacob was telling himself “I am a girl trapped in a boy’s body.” Over the next few years, he started growing his hair out and talking to “the people closest to [him]” about what he was experiencing; despite the immediate family’s support, things didn’t improve, and depression–and two years of therapy–followed.

Who is Juliet Evancho Homecoming November 13 2014 1
Jackie and Juliet Evancho after their high school’s homecoming dance, November 2014

Before too much longer, the emotional toll of lying about her real identity was too much to bear, and “Jacob” gathered the extended Evancho family to tell them the truth. Their reception was so positive that Jacob soon became Juliet–completely without fear:

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.

Who is Juliet Evancho March 1 2015 1
Juliet Evancho, sister Rachel (now 13), brother Zach (now 15), and Jackie in March of 2015

So, while the Trump inauguration controversy officially peaked with Jackie’s performance of the national anthem, Juliet–in an act of true defiance–was nowhere near the National Mall. Instead, she was undergoing sex reassignment surgery 150 miles to the north in Philadelphia. “Now,” Juliet told People shortly after the surgery, “I get to be myself….Before, there were times where I would literally just break down in tears because I thought, ‘I’m going to be 23 years old, and I’m not going to be myself. I’m going to miss my glory days being myself.’ My parents asked me if I wanted to get the surgery and scheduled it, and when I realized that it was going to happen…

“I’m an emotional person,” Juliet continued, “so I broke down in tears again. Now, when I look in the mirror, it’s just me: I don’t have to worry about ‘this doesn’t look right’ or ‘this doesn’t match.’ I’m finally me. If I’m looking in the mirror, if I’m taking a shower, everything is just finally complete.”

Global Lyme Alliance Inaugural Gala
Juliet Evancho with her sister Jackie on the red carpet at the Inaugural GLA Gala–her first public appearance as a female

Now, both Juliet and Jackie have become active defenders of transgender rights. Jackie’s Twitter feed is often directed at the president–

–and Juliet plans to take a year off between high school and college to work with advocacy groups in New York, as well as continue her career as a model:

A Bold Lip For Ya Nerve 💋 #boldlip #modeling #models

A post shared by Juliet Evancho (@jmeevancho_) on

You can follow Juliet Evancho on Instagram here, and on Twitter here. “Growing Up Evancho,” the primetime reality special devoted to Jackie and Juliet’s relationship as well as the entire Evancho family, airs Wednesday night at 10 on TLC.

(Photo credits: Who is Juliet Evancho via Instagram, Ivan Nikolov / WENN.com)

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  • Shanaynay

    I’m over these trans kids!!!! You’re too young to know what you want to be!!! Sorry, but at 11, you dont just suddenly “feel” you’re trapped in the wrong body! Somebody or something, put those thoughts in your head. You saw something on tv, or the internet, you read it in a magazine. You thought it sounds “cool”, so you decide to switch who you were born as!! These parents are awful to support & promote this as well! Sick! These people need mental surgery, not sex reassignment!! This is becoming a fad! It saddens me!

    • BUGGY447

      Why lecture someone you don’t know about something you obviously know nothing about?

      • Shanaynay

        Pot meet kettle. Do you hear yourself? Hypocritical, no?

    • Billie

      You poor, delusional creature. Bless your heart.

      • BigJimSlade

        Is your comment directed at the dude this article was about?

        • Billie

          No, the “Shanaynay” person who thinks that using a ton of exclamation marks makes them right.

          Juliet is beautiful.

        • BUGGY447

          Juliet is a intelligent, caring, beautiful girl who was simply born into the wrong body. And there is only two reasons why you would make the effort here to demean her; one being you have an unrequited acceptance of your own manhood, or you find Juliet sexually attractive and hate yourself for it. Or both.

    • TA

      I think what you’re missing in all of their stories is that they don’t “suddenly” feel trapped. It’s a feeling they wrestle with and try to ignore for many years. They can remember feeling this way as young children, and not knowing how to express what they’re feeling. It isn’t a fad, we just hear more about it because it’s becoming more accepted, as it should be. Why are you so threatened by this? It really has nothing to do with you what gender someone identifies as.

    • bambiglanville

      What is sick is that we still have ignorant people like you in this world. Hopefully one day you will educate yourself.

    • glitterock

      They say God doesn’t make mistakes. Well, Mother Nature sure can, and does! One of my professions is a Certified Doula and let me tell you, I’ve seen many things in labor and delivery that would probably frighten, not to mention, confuse a person. How about a true Hermophrodite—born with both sex organs? Or a baby boy, who in later years finds out he has one testicle and one Overy? Or a baby girl who grows to find out she has one Overy and one inverted testicle? And all the while these pre-teens pre-pubescent hormones are running amok and NO ONE knows what to do until ultra sounds and further tests are performed? Don’t folks realize that young children don’t make up these things? They just KNOW that they are different. We, as “the public” have no right to judge, as this could just as easily have happened to one of your own children, and if it had, as a parent, what would you have done? Bless these parents and family members who allow their “different” child to be who they were supposed to be, and supporting them on the road to adulthood.

    • Heather

      Ur so ignorant and have obviously never known a trans or gay child. No one puts these thoughts on their heads, they are born this way. It’s not a choice, if it were there would be no gay or trans teen or adult suicide. These kids and adults are confident in who they are, you are the one who is confused and self conscious and in need of therapy!! Get over yourself!! The world is finally catching up with reality and God loves everyone, including gay and trans and including you, even after you have chosen to show your ugliness!!! If you don’t like gay or trans kids or adults move to Russia or shut the hell up and get over it! Even if u choose not to shut up, no one cares that bothered by it, their rights are just as secure as ur’s and their place in our society is growing stronger and stronger and will never go away. So really the bottom line is that no one cares if u don’t like it, they are happy and enjoying their lives, ur the miserable one wasting urs hating others!!

  • BUGGY447

    It’s always sad how the christian who actually believes man came from a handful of magic dust from a supernatural being and woman from a rib seems to think they actually grasp the biological complexities of our species. Even the christian transvestite or cross-dresser will proudly point a demeaning finger at the Transgender and label them as defective and less a person than themselves because the person who is Transgender doesn’t fit down to their christian level of ignorance that includes not knowing what the term, Transgender, actually means.

  • Kevin Bullard

    I saw a guy on a TV show who swears he is a vampire. Always has.

    • Kris Bright

      That is completely unrelated.

      • Kevin Bullard

        Is it really?