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'Drag Race' Queens Respond To RuPaul's Troubling Comments About Trans Queens

By Kristy Puchko | TV | March 6, 2018 |

By Kristy Puchko | TV | March 6, 2018 |


Through his storied career and heralded reality TV competition RuPaul’s Drag Race, RuPaul has brought drag out of the clubs and into mainstream America. But this supermodel of the world is under fire for transphobic comments made in a recent interview.

In a profile with The Guardian, RuPaul was asked if bio queens (cisgender women who perform female drag) would ever be allowed to compete on his show. He said, “Drag loses its sense of danger and its sense of irony once it’s not men doing it, because at its core it’s a social statement and a big f-you to male-dominated culture. So for men to do it, it’s really punk rock, because it’s a real rejection of masculinity.”

But what about transgender women? Season nine saw openly trans Peppermint gunning for the top prize. However, RuPaul noted that was before the queen had breast implants, adding, “She was identifying as a woman, but she hadn’t really transitioned.”

Asked if a trans woman who had transitioned would be allowed on the show, Ru said, “Probably not. You can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body. It takes on a different thing; it changes the whole concept of what we’re doing. We’ve had some girls who’ve had some injections in the face and maybe a little bit in the butt here and there, but they haven’t transitioned.”

The comments caused outrage from some of the LGBTQA+ community who felt RuPaul was denigrating trans people’s contribution to drag. This anger is also informed by other problematic Ru behavior, including how Drag Race used to employ the phrase “She-Male” for its challenge-explanation segments.

Then, RuPaul doubled down on Twitter, suggesting that trans women who’ve transitioned would have an unfair advantage on the show, which he has referred to as “The Olympics of Drag.”

Notably, Peppermint is far from the only Drag Race alumni who is trans; she was the first to openly identify as trans during the show’s competition. Other trans Drag Race stars include Monica Beverly Hillz, Gia Gunn, Kenya Michaels, Jiggly Caliente, Stacy Layne Matthews, Carmen Carrera, and Sonique, while Jinx Monsoon identifies as gender non-binary.

RuPaul’s statements urged queens from the show’s long history to speak out. Here’s what they had to say:

“I’ve always been a woman, so what I've done to my body or that I hadn't started hormones while on the show doesn't take away my identity,” Hillz told INTO. “Our bodies do not equate our identity.” Hillz said in her email that there’s a “deeper discussion” to be had about the world of drag and the pressures on many queens to make their bodies appear more womanly. “The more ‘real’ our bodies look and appear to be women, the more money we'll often make in the nightlife and drag worlds. And for many of us as trans women, we do drag as a form of survival to support our very ability to start medical transition.” Hillz added that “everybody should be given the opportunity to compete” on the show, which is one of the biggest platforms for queer people on TV, especially because so many trans women are already a part of the drag community. “I know I have a lot of trans friends who already perform and would make fierce competitors on the show,” Hillz said. “We're really missing out on the important and powerful stories of trans women who have had to fight against not only homophobia, but transphobia, even in the drag world. Now THIS would make for some good reality TV.” #getwoke #getwokeqtpoc #rupaulsdragrace #monicabeverlyhillz #lgbt #dragqueen #transgender #transisbeautiful #qtpoc #gay #girlslikeus! A huge Thanks @Intomore for This interview! Booking info :[email protected]

A post shared by Monica Beverly Hillz (@monicabhillz) on

In the wake of all of this, RuPaul took to Twitter to respond.

Some might wonder what it matters if RuPaul chooses to limit trans and cis women from performing on Drag Race. But as a gatekeeper, Ru has an incredible power in his industry. Stars are made on that show every season. So to exclude women means to bar them from this remarkable and wildly popular route to success. Here’s hoping that in coming cycles, Ru’s tweets will prove more than a PR move to squash this scandal, and an earnest moment of shifting perspective on his definition of drag.

Kristy Puchko is the film editor of Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.