English singer and songwriter Anohni is the first transgender musical performer to be nominated for an Oscar, but she won’t be attending Sunday night’s glamorous event in Hollywood.
Her reason? While Anohni’s Manta Ray, from the documentary Racing Extinction, is among songs by nominees such as Lady Gaga in the best Original Song category, she’s not been asked to perform at the ceremony.
She said in an online post that while she was at first excited to be nominated, she was surprised when the Academy Awards announced the list of performers for the night that didn’t include her.
“Confused, I sat and waited. Would someone be in touch? But as time bore on I heard nothing. I was besieged with people asking me if I was going to perform,” Anohni said.
The producers have decided to only stage performances by well known singers due to “time constraints.” Another nominated track, Simple Song #3, performed by South Korean soprano Sumi Jo, has also been excluded.
“Last night I tried to force myself to get on the plane to fly to L.A. for all the nominee events, but the feelings of embarrassment and anger knocked me back, and I couldn’t get on the plane,” wrote Anohni.
“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.”
She added that, as “if to rub salt into the wound, the next morning the Oscars added that I was transgendered to the trivia page of their website.”
Anohni explained that she doesn’t believe that she has been excluded directly for being transgender, and acknowledged that she is largely unknown in the US.
She believes, however, that her snub was ultimately due to “a system of social oppression and diminished opportunities for transpeople that has been employed by capitalism in the U.S. to crush our dreams and our collective spirit.”
She went on to call many of these celebrities at the Oscars “trophies of billionaire corporations whose only intention it is to manipulate you into giving them your consent and the last of your money.”
The lack of racial diversity in the Oscars’ acting category this year has also led to luminaries such as Spike Lee, and Jada Pinkett Smith and her husband Will Smith announcing a boycott of the awards.
Last month, openly gay acting icon Ian McKellen questioned why no openly gay actor has ever won an Oscar for best actor.