88th Academy Awards

First transgender singer to get Oscar nomination didn’t get invitation to perform

Anohni.(Inez & Vinoodh)

The nominees for best original song at the 88th Academy Awards include the ceremony’s first-ever transgender performer, Anohni. But she made the decision not to attend, she revealed in a recent open letter published on Pitchfork. The singer, who is known for her work as Antony and the Johnsons, was nominated for her song “Manta Ray,” a collaboration with J. Ralph featured in the documentary “Racing Extinction.”

She stated in her letter that while three of the other nominees, Lady Gaga, Sam Smith, and the Weeknd, got to sing their songs at the ceremony, she and the fifth nominee, Sumi Jo, who performed David Lang’s “Simple Song #3” from “Youth,” were never asked.


Anohni acknowledged in her letter that being transgender is not what directly got her omitted, but the fact that she is “relatively unknown” in the United States compared to those three commercial superstars. Still, she said, it felt clear that her gender identity was related.

“If you trace the trail of breadcrumbs, the deeper truth of it is impossible to ignore,” Anohni wrote. She ended her letter with an attack on capitalism: “Don’t forget that many of these celebrities are the trophies of billionaire corporations whose only intention it is to manipulate you into giving them your consent and the last of your money. They have been paid to do a little tap dance to occupy you while Rome burns.”

John Paul Stapleton can be reached at john.stapleton@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnP_Stapleton