Category Archives: Cissexism

Discrimination against trans and nonbinary people

Black trans excellence

[Image: Activists Joshua Allen and CeCe McDonald speak in front of a screen showing their images and the words “black excellence tour”.]

Yesterday I was still feeling very shaky and sleep-deprived after the election results, and was tempted to either stay home and rest or go out to join a demonstration. But I had committed to attending the Black Excellence Tour, featuring black activists CeCe McDonald, a trans woman who was imprisoned in a men’s facility for defending herself, and Joshua Allen, a gender non-conforming organizer and abolitionist.

CeCe McDonald[Image: CeCe McDonald speaks into a microphone.]

I had first seen CeCe speak at the Trans Day of Remembrance last November; my photo of her speaking there is currently featured on her Wikipedia page. She is the subject of the documentary Free CeCe, which I’m attending tonight at the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival. I contributed to the fundraiser for this film, which also features Laverne Cox of Orange is the New Black; CeCe was Laverne’s inspiration for her character on that show.

Hearing CeCe talk the day after the election was a great reality check. She said that she woke up that morning “unbothered”; with all the oppression she and folks like her have faced, including under the Obama administration, it was “just another day” to her.

CeCe is a woman who gives no fucks about respectability politics. She said we need to respect the people with their pants down around their knees and the heroin users as much as any other folks. This was especially poignant given the talk’s location in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. The venue, Faithful Fools, offers ministry and services for the people in that troubled area. I had a good talk with Sam Dennison, one of the residents and workers there.

Joshua Allen[Image: Joshua Allen speaks into a microphone.]

Joshua Allen spoke about their activism for queer, trans, and gender non-conforming people, and the intersections of gender, race, and class, especially with regard to policing. I asked them a question about how to cope with being non-binary in a binary world. They replied that they had hope for change, and that if others tried to force their “gendered apparatus” on us then that was their problem, not ours.

I’m very glad I went to this event, and spent time in the company of queer and trans people of color. We need each others’ support, now more than ever.

My full set of photos from the event is available on Flickr. Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of them, thanks!

ETA: A video of the event has now been posted.

The silent majority of deplorables

[Image: Screenshot from NBC News of Donald Trump speaking in Iowa, with the caption “What did Donald Trump think of the third night of the DNC?” A quote from Trump reads, “I wanted to hit a couple of those speakers so hard… so hard their heads would spin they’d never recover.”]

Last night, along with the rest of the world, I watched the election returns come in with a growing sense of dread and disgust. Unlike many of my friends reacting on Facebook with shock and horror, however, the result was not entirely surprising to me. This country was built on a foundation of exclusion and oppression of everyone except for straight cisgender white Christian men, and those are the people who Trump correctly predicted constituted the “silent majority” that would carry him to victory.

Although I did not endorse or vote for Hillary Clinton, I don’t want to talk about her flaws, perceived or actual. I don’t want to talk about e-mail servers or Wikileaks or Russian interference or what might have happened if Bernie Sanders had been the Democratic candidate. And I definitely don’t want to talk about third party “spoilers”. Anyone blaming or shaming progressives who voted for third parties, or who didn’t vote at all, needs to keep your comments out of my space.

The only thing I want to address right now is that millions of US-Americans voted for a man who ran on a campaign of unbridled bigotry, bullying, and blatant dishonesty. The people who say they want to “Make America Great Again” are thinking of a time when people like me—a queer black trans atheist—were invisible and openly oppressed, and ridiculed with impunity without any fear of repercussions. A time when joking or bragging about sexually harassing women was more socially acceptable, inside or outside of locker rooms. A time when religious freedom applied only to people practicing different flavors of Christianity.

This oppression and invisibility and rape culture never actually went away, which is what many of those who were shocked with the election results didn’t understand. You all need to understand it now. Donald Trump is the product—the very embodiment—of white supremacy. His people have spoken, and they want to “take back” a country that they never actually lost in the first place.

I am not willing to take this result quietly. I am a pacifist, but not passive; I support loud, angry protests and civil disobedience. Last night, people in a number of cities took to the streets, and that will continue today and likely for the forseeable future. This will not be a peaceful transition of power.

In the meantime, for anyone in the LGBT+ community who is feeling suicidal, please know that there is help out there.  You can call the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 or the Trevor Project at 866-488-7386. Our community is under attack, but we are resilient, and we will get through this if we have each others’ backs.

CeCe McDonald at TDoR SF[Image: CeCe McDonald speaks at the Trans Day of Remembrance, SF.]

I had already planned to spend time with fellow black trans people (and our allies) over the next two days, tonight at the Black Excellence Tour with CeCe McDonald and Joshua Allen, and tomorrow night at the Free CeCe documentary that opens the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival. I will have to miss the Trump protests in San Francisco and Oakland tonight, but it’s important for me to be with some of the people who are most impacted by his bigotry.

I am not OK. I was not OK before the election, and I don’t know if I ever will be OK in the future. If you want to support me, please amplify the voices of the marginalized people who have been speaking out against institutionalized oppression all along. Make our country great, for the first time.

Making connections at WikiConference North America

[Image: A hanging banner with the Wikipedia globe logo and the words “Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia”.]

This past weekend, Ziggy and I attended WikiConference North America 2016 in San Diego. As I wrote previously, my abstract for a presentation on “The Transgender Gap: Trans and non-binary representation on Wikipedia” was approved, and I also received a scholarship to cover part of my travel expenses.

Pax and other presenters at WikiConference[Image: Pax speaks at a podium while fellow presenters Jami Mathewson and Wynnie Lamour look on. Photo by Ziggy.]

Katherine Maher at WikiConference[Image: Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Katherine Maher speaks at a podium.]

While I was nervous about how my talk would be received by this audience, the reception far exceeded my expectations. Numerous attendees came up to me throughout the conference, thanking me for my presentation. Those thanking me included Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Katherine Maher, who posted about my talk on Twitter. Another attendee said that he’d be updating the software of a web site he manages for thousands of people, based on my recommendations for more accurately representing gender diversity.

Pax and Jethro[Image: Pax and Chris “Jethro” Schilling pose for a photo. Photo by Ziggy.]

Lane Rasberry at WikiConference[Image: Lane Rasberry moderates a discussion at the WikiConference.]

In addition to the positive feedback, I also enjoyed meeting a number of Wikipedians I’d only interacted with online, including Chris “Jethro” Schilling, Jake Orlowitz, Jason Moore, and Lane Rasberry. I was far more social than I expected to be, considering the stress of travel and the sleep deprivation from our noisy hotel room.

I attended a number of sessions at the event, and was impressed that the organizers made a sincere effort to represent diversity, at a deep rather than superficial level. “Inclusivity” was the theme of the conference, and several talks addressed gender and racial disparities, not only on Wikipedia but in society at large. Indigenous People’s Day occurred during the conference, and several talks (including a keynote) and an edit-a-thon centered on Native American history and culture.

Pax at San Diego Central Library[Image: Pax stands on a staircase inside the San Diego Central Library, under the words “We read to know we are not alone.” Photo by Ziggy.]

As welcome as I felt at the event, I was still marginalized by my trans status during the trip. The only gender-neutral restroom I saw at the conference facility (the beautiful San Diego Central Public Library) was a locked “family restroom” that required patrons to ask staff for access. (I used the men’s room.) The San Diego airport did have an all-gender restroom right across from my gate, but on the return trip both Ziggy and I were both misgendered and briefly detained by the TSA. The TSA staff at SFO had called me “Sir” and had a male agent pat down my legs, but in San Diego three agents stared at me until one of them pointed to their pink-and-blue monitor and said, right in front of my face, “It’s a female!” I responded, “Actually I’m male, but I don’t care who screens me.” (I just really, really wanted to get home.)

Regardless, I am glad I made this trip, and grateful that my concerns about transgender representation on Wikipedia are being heard and taken seriously. Ziggy is encouraging me to pursue paid public speaking gigs based on this and other talks I’ve given on transgender issues. I’m skeptical about doing these talks on a regular basis, as I dislike travel and strongly prefer writing over speaking. But I do agree that trans folks should be compensated for sharing our stories and expertise. (Here are some other things to keep in mind when booking a trans speaker or performer.)

My Transgender Gap talk is available on Google Slides (with notes) and as a PDF on Wikimedia Commons. A video should be available soon as well. My photos from the trip are available on Flickr; many are also on Wikimedia Commons, along with photos from other attendees. Please credit me (as Pax Ahimsa Gethen), Ziggy, or whatever other photographer is listed if you use any of the photos, thanks!

P.S. The second presidential debate was shown at the conference during a scheduled reception. I only watched part of it; the less said about it, the better. (Obligatory reminder of my independent political status.)

Welcoming gender diversity at Vegan Soul Wellness Fest

[Image: Pax speaks at a podium on a stage. Photo by Wayne Calhoon.]

Yesterday, I gave a keynote speech at the Vegan Soul Wellness Festival at Laney College in Oakland. As I blogged previously, this presentation was an updated and expanded version of the Welcoming Gender Diversity talk I gave at the Intersectional Justice Conference earlier this year. In this talk, I focused more on the intersections of race and gender, and promoted Black Vegans Rock. My presentation wasn’t filmed (to my knowledge), but the slides are available online.

Welcoming gender diversity[Image: A stage with an empty podium and screen showing the words “Welcoming gender diversity.”]

I was a bit intimidated when I entered the theater and saw hundreds of seats, as I hadn’t given a presentation of this nature to that large of an audience before. The festival was initially sold out (tickets were free but there were limits to venue capacity), but the day of the event it was re-opened to all. Unfortunately, only a couple dozen people watched me speak, but a number of attendees approached me afterward to thank me and ask for more information.

David Carter at Vegan Soul Wellness Fest[Image: David Carter speaks at a podium on a stage.]

The keynote speech of football player and vegan activist David Carter, aka The 300 Pound Vegan, followed mine, and had a much higher turnout. David and his wife Paige (who is also a photographer) spoke about vegan nutrition and systemic racism, among other topics.

Keith Tucker at Vegan Soul Wellness Fest[Image: Keith Tucker stands at a podium on a stage, in front of a screen containing the words “I went vegan”.]

Other speakers included lauren Ornelas of the Food Empowerment Project, Nassim Nobari of Seed the Commons, and Keith Tucker of Hip Hop is Green. A number of workshops and cooking demos (which I did not attend) were held simultaneously, and vendors served up tasty vegan food and other vegan-friendly products. I especially enjoyed a chocolate parfait from Sanctuary Bistro, which the owner assured me was not sourced from countries that enslave children on cocoa farms.

My full set of photos from the event is available on Flickr. Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of them, thanks!

Presenting at WikiConference North America

[Image: Pete Forsyth and Pax speak about transgender issues at the Wikimedia Foundation. Photo by Ziggy.]

I’m pleased to announce that I will be presenting at the annual WikiConference North America, coming up October 7-10 in San Diego. My presentation, currently scheduled for October 8 at 1:30 p.m., is entitled “The Transgender Gap: Trans and non-binary representation on Wikipedia.”

As the abstract notes, I’ll be doing some basic gender education and discussing issues of particular relevance to trans people on Wikipedia, which I previously addressed at the inaugural Bay Area WikiSalon. From combating hate and ignorance and deadnaming to accurately surveying for gender, I’ll address challenges and best practices for improving trans coverage and making Wikipedia more welcoming to trans editors.

Registration is open, and free attendance (without lunch) is available for volunteers. I received a partial scholarship to cover my travel expenses, for which I’m grateful, especially as Ziggy will be coming with me. Traveling while trans is stressful, and though I’ve visited San Diego many times, I haven’t been there since years before my transition, so I don’t know what to expect. I’m hoping to have a good time in addition to learning and sharing information with fellow Wikipedians.

Presenting at Vegan Soul Wellness Festival

[Image: A poster reading (in part): “Welcoming Gender Diversity – An open conversation with keynote speaker Pax Ahimsa Gethen”]

On September 24, I’ll be one of the keynote speakers at the Vegan Soul Wellness festival in Oakland. I’ll be presenting an updated and expanded version of the talk I gave at the Intersectional Justice Conference earlier this year: Welcoming Gender Diversity: Trans, non-binary, and intersex inclusion in activist spaces. I’ll be representing Black Vegans Rock and discussing the intersections of racism and cissexism as part of my talk.

The other keynote speakers are David Carter, aka The 300 Pound Vegan, and his wife, photographer and activist Paige Carter. The festival will include workshops, cooking demos, food vendors, and more. If you’re in the SF Bay Area, come check it out!

ETA: My talk is currently scheduled for noon. The final schedule should be posted closer to the date of the event.

Naming and deadnaming

[Image: Self-portrait of Pax wearing glasses with red and black frames.]

Three years ago today, I announced my new name, Pax Ahimsa Gethen, to the world. While my legal name and gender change didn’t take place until nearly a year later, that was just a formality as far as I’m concerned. Pax has been my real name since August 23, 2013.

While it took awhile for friends and acquaintances to get used to the change, anyone who still deliberately refers to me by my previous name at this point is basically being an asshole, and should be treated accordingly. I have no tolerance for intentional deadnaming, which is not only disrespectful but an attack on the trans community. It doesn’t matter what politics, privileges, or personal qualities the individual being deadnamed has, and it doesn’t matter if they laugh or shrug it off. Not all trans people can laugh in the face of verbal violence, and asking marginalized people to ignore oppression is itself oppressive.

I’ve been fighting this battle on Wikipedia, where some editors complain that avoiding deadnaming is historical revisionism, even if the trans person did not become notable before their gender transition. They complain of political correctness, social justice warriors, and attacks on “free speech“, when I’m just arguing for trans people to be treated with respect and dignity.

While I’m not currently notable enough to have a Wikipedia article, my deadname is all over the Internet, as I’ve been active online for over 20 years and have never made an effort to conceal my identity. I could never hope to go stealth, but I do expect people who learn of my previous name to respect my wishes to avoid using it. Seeing it is triggering, and people who deliberately deadname me to cause emotional distress are, again, being assholes.

Even though my deadname is easily findable online, nearly all of my official documents have been updated with my current legal name and gender for over a year now. One of the few exceptions is my birth certificate. Part of the reason is that the state I was born in, Pennsylviania, required proof of surgery for a change in gender until very recently. That requirement was lifted just this month, which is great news.

But I’m still not sure if I want or need to update my birth certificate. I almost never see this document, so it’s not triggering to me, and I haven’t needed it to change any of my other IDs, including my passport. I don’t blame my parents for choosing the name they did, and I don’t blame the hospital for assigning a female sex to me based on the available evidence. Ideally, however, I would prefer that newborns not be gendered at all. A notation of their genital arrangement—which is normally the only criteria for saying “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!”—could be part of a sealed medical record.

Updating my birth sex wouldn’t be “historical revisionism”; it would be a correction to an arbitrary and incorrect assumption about my gender. My current name, on the other hand, is not one that I had until three years ago. That doesn’t mean it’s OK to deadname me, but it would be just as inaccurate to say that I was “born” Pax Ahimsa Gethen as it is to say that I was “born” female. If I were trying to go stealth or needed to update my birth record in order to get other official documents changed, this would be a much easier decision, but as of now I’m not really sure it’s necessary. I’m just glad that at least it’s an option now, for those of us who have not had surgery.

In any case, happy nameday to me! I’m not doing anything special to celebrate, though Ziggy, who is working long hours today, did make my traditional birthday breakfast of champurrado (Mexican chocolate porridge) yesterday. As my transition progresses, I expect to de-emphasize my birthday, which has a number of unpleasant memories attached to it, in favor of recognizing this nameday, and celebrating my authentic self.

Running while trans

[Image: Pax runs while smiling and making a “V” sign with their fingers. Photo by Ziggy.]

Content note: Exercise and fitness discussion.

Watching the Summer Olympics inspired me to make another attempt at recommitting to a regular exercise schedule. As I miss racing, I’ve decided to run a minimum of three miles, six days a week. I’m doing a brief warmup in the morning and some yoga stretches in the evening, but otherwise not committing to any other fitness activities at this time. I’ve registered to run the Bridge to Bridge 12K in October and the Kaiser Half Marathon in February.

So far I’ve stuck to this schedule for a week, usually rising before 6 a.m. so that I can get out and back before too many people are out and about. These early run times will also be helpful as daytime temperatures rise in September and October; sweating under layers while cis men run bare-chested makes me seriously resentful and dysphoric. Even this morning, overcast and 55 degrees, I was sweating in a light windbreaker, but didn’t dare take it off to reveal my white T-shirt with nothing hiding my breasts underneath. While I hope to lose some of the fat I’ve accumulated on my chest and midsection, I will likely never be able to run topless safely, as I’ve written about before.

Reading the debate over South African runner Caster Semenya made me think about my own experience of running before and after starting testosterone therapy. While the gender policing of elite athletes is highly problematic and based on dubious or nonexistent scientific evidence, I have no hope or desire to compete at that level, and am no longer competing against women in any case. I noticed a marked improvement in my running times after starting my physical transition, but I’m now wondering how much of that was psychological as opposed to physical, as I didn’t come close to realizing my athletic potential when I had an estrogen-dominant body.

Regardless of my finishing times, one of my main motivations for running, aside from improving my physical health, is to make sure I get out of the house at least a few hours a week. I’ve sunk so far into depression and introversion that it’s been unusual for me to leave the apartment more than a couple of times a week. Spending most of my days sitting in front of the computer or TV hasn’t made me feel good. I remember a quote from ultramarathon runner Dean Karnazes: “Somewhere along the way we confused comfort with happiness.” Getting up at 5:30 a.m. and dealing with fatigue and aching, atrophied muscles is uncomfortable, but it’s just what I need right now.

Of course, this “pain is good” philosophy can be taken too far. When I was in marathon training back in 2012-2013, I read the autobiographies of Karnazes and several other ultrarunners: Scott Jurek, Marshall Ulrich, Rich Roll, and Christopher Bergland. As this was not only before my transition, but also before I was “woke”, it didn’t dawn on me at the time that all of these books were written by white cis men. Most of them had faced personal losses of some kind—divorce, death of a spouse or family member—which had motivated  their efforts. But aside from Bergland, who is openly gay and was assaulted for it, none have faced the kind of daily microaggressions that come with being judged for your very existence, as those of us who have brown skin and/or trans bodies know all too well.

The challenge of just surviving in this body is enough that I don’t want to burden myself with unrealistic athletic goals. My long runs got less and less rewarding the further I went beyond 13.1 miles (half marathon distance). I don’t relish the idea of spending hours and hours training for a full marathon again just to see if I can beat my pre-transition finishing time. The 26.2 mile distance is arbitrary and totally unnecessary for fitness purposes, which I knew well before I accepted the challenge from Karnazes to complete it. It’s great for Karnazes that he ran 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days, and that he, Jurek, and Ulrich have all completed the 135 mile Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley multiple times, but I don’t need to attempt anything like that to prove myself.

Truthfully, I have no idea what I’m capable of, mentally or physically. I have a transsexual male body, which is a configuration relatively few people have experienced. I use the term “transsexual” deliberately despite it falling out of favor, and will continue to defend its use by trans people who chose that identifier for themselves. Regardless, I can’t just look at charts that presume a male/female binary to assess or predict my performance. I’m charting new territory with each step. I can only hope to find some enjoyment and fulfillment in the process.

Black lives matter on Wikipedia

[Image: Dr. A. Breeze Harper speaks at the Intersectional Justice Conference.]

Black vegan feminist writers Aph and Syl Ko have explained that it’s important to celebrate black life, not just mourn black death. This is part of the motivation behind Black Vegans Rock. While Aph has been updating the web site, Facebook page, and Twitter on a daily basis since we launched in January, I’ve been updating our Instagram page for the last few weeks. It’s great amidst all the violence and anger in the world to see positive, photographic representation of black folks celebrating food, animals, and each other.

Another way I’ve been helping celebrate living black people is to improve coverage of us on Wikipedia. While anyone can create a profile on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter easily, Wikipedia has higher standards and barriers to entry and participation. I’ve written before about issues concerning sexism, racism, and cissexism on that platform. On Wikipedia and in this blog, I am focusing my writing and photography on people other than cisgender white men.

So in the last two months, I have created new articles for the following black folks:

I’ve also made significant improvements to the existing articles for:

I’ve also contributed images to Wikimedia Commons for Harper and Rhue, as well as opera singer Breanna Sinclairé and several other black LGBT and anti-racist activists.

On Ajamu Baraka: When I read last night that he had accepted Jill Stein’s offer to be her running mate, I immediately searched for his name. I found a brand-new Wikipedia page with about five sentences on it. This is a man who has been campaigning actively for human rights for decades, and served on the boards of numerous organizations, including Amnesty International. Why did he not have a Wikipedia page before now?

The collaborative—and sometimes combative—nature of editing Wikipedia can be a frustrating experience, but it’s very important to me because Wikipedia entries figure so prominently in Google and other search engine results. Just as I don’t want a young non-binary trans person to search for information about their gender and find a vandalized page stating that they are mentally ill, I don’t want journalists and voters to search for information on the new Green Party VP candidate and find inaccurate, misleading, or outright racist content.

If you have the time, you too can help improve Wikipedia. There are numerous local meetups and edit-a-thons that welcome and teach new editors. Help make this online encyclopedia more truly representative of the diverse world we live in.

The LGBTQ and The Donald

[Image: A rainbow flag partially covering the flag of the USA.]

Note/reminder: I am affiliated with no political party and endorse no presidential candidate at this time.

Yesterday I watched the official livestream of the Republican National Convention, while reading the coverage and commentary in The Guardian as I had for the previous three days. I turned the sound down for some of it, turning it back up to hear the cover band.* I have to admit that the music was excellent, despite my disgust at hearing songs by queer and black artists who would likely not be supportive of the Republican platform.**

The display of “cosmetic diversity” continued, with black, Asian, and gay Republicans attempting to show how wonderfully tolerant this party has become. Pastor Mark Burns, a black televangelist, led the crowd in a rousing chant of “All Lives Matter.” Korean-American Dr. Lisa Shin extolled the beauty of legal immigration and the American dream. Peter Thiel, a white cisgender male billionaire, told the audience that he was “proud to be gay“, and of the controversy over trans people using public restrooms, said “Who cares?”

Well, I care quite a bit, especially as I am still often misgendered as female. Ted Cruz, who thinks trans women are perverted men in dresses, also cares quite a bit about this issue, which is likely one of the reasons why he didn’t endorse Trump (who has flip-flopped around the subject). Should I be grateful that the RNC allowed a (wealthy white cis) gay man to openly disagree with their anti-LGBT platform at their convention? This is a crumb, a mere gesture, not true progress.

In his acceptance speech, Donald Trump quite awkwardly referred to the “LGBTQ community”. He did so in reference to the Orlando massacre, calling the 49 victims “wonderful Americans.”  He did not speak the name of a single one of those people, however, reserving that honor for a young woman who had been killed by a “border crosser”. He only promised to protect our “LGBTQ citizens” from “hateful foreign ideology,” using the murder of queer people of color as a prop for his Islamophobia.

Trump appeared to express genuine gratitude to the Republican audience for applauding his lines about the LGBTQ community. But again, these are mere crumbs, not real progress. If those Republicans really cared about our community, they would speak out against the many murders of trans women of color, whether or not those women were killed by “Islamic terrorists”. Of course, if they genuinely wanted to support our community, they wouldn’t be Republicans at all, not that the Democrats are doing much better in securing us equal rights in anything other than marriage. (Should I, a pacifist, really be grateful that openly trans people can now serve in the military?)

I found it interesting that, according to the Guardian, the term “LGBTQ” was the top trending search on Google last night. I’m reminded of what a bubble I live in when I see how many people are not familiar with that acronym. Granted, there are many variations on the term, but for those unaware, that configuration of letters stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning”. The awkward way Trump pronounced it indicated he might not even know what all of those letters mean himself. Or perhaps his speechwriters wanted to avoid alienating his evangelical supporters—whose support, Trump actually admitted, was not entirely deserved—by uttering the word “transgender”.

Regardless, though there are certainly transgender Republicans—Caitlyn Jenner being one of the most prominent—this party most definitely does not represent our interests in any way, shape, or form. Queer folks and cis people of color are only welcomed by the GOP if they practice respectability politics. Those politics were on prominent display throughout the Republican convention. And I fully expect to see more of them at the Democratic convention later this month.

*Guitarist and bandleader G.E. Smith, who I knew well from his days with Hall and Oates and Saturday Night Live, said of the 2012 Republican convention that he was not political and it was just a job to him; this year’s event was likely the same. I personally think this mindset is irresponsible for a prominent (and very likely financially secure) artist to take.

**From what I understand, organizations often license songs in packages from publishing companies for events like this. Whether artists can opt out of these arrangements isn’t clear to me.