Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: Transgender drag deserves representation and inclusion

The LGBT community has faced flak for many reasons, but it usually does not come from within the community, especially from a very esteemed member who has managed to bring something as bizarre and beautiful as drag into the main spotlight.

In an interview with The Guardian, tactfully entitled ‘Drag is a big f-you to male-dominated culture,’ television personality RuPaul Andre Charles, arguably America’s best-known drag queen, discusses his experiences with drag, being a part of the LGBT community and his restrictions on who gets to join the cast of his television show, "RuPaul’s Drag Race." 

When The Guardian interviewer Decca Aitkenhead brought up the “problem” of transgender contestants, her comments were inherently transphobic, and led to a conversation with RuPaul who said contestants who are transitioning are more than likely not going to be allowed on the show. 

The following portion of the interview highlights this issue. 

“Would RuPaul allow a biological woman to compete on the show? He hesitates. ‘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.’”

For RuPaul to break transgender and drag qualities down to gender itself is blasphemy. The idea of drag is to push past the gender boundaries and binaries in order to allow people to express themselves the way they wish, have fun with it and hopefully create a career. 

When asked if RuPaul would ever accept a contestant who has openly begun transitioning between genders, RuPaul replied, “Probably not. You can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body.” 

The problem RuPaul is ignoring when making decisions about who gets to join "Drag Race" is the movement of drag itself. 

A website entitled "them," which is dedicated to representing queer people who are beyond the binary, tackled this issue. Michael Cuby reached out to four drag queens who do not identify as cisgender men and ultimately, they were unsurprised. 

One of the queens interviewed, Monica Beverly Hillz, was a previous contestant on the fifth season of "Drag Race." She is an out transgender woman who advocates for other members of the community, as well as survivors of sexual violence. 

“'Drag Race' helped me escape that world, but their world was never really made for me either. Let's be real — once I came out as trans, they milked that moment and then I didn't stick around much longer,” Hillz says in response to how "Drag Race," in some ways, helped her step away from sex work in the pursuit of paying for a transition. Her second half of the comment is in regards to the way the show handled her coming out scene. 

But the interview wasn’t RuPaul’s only misstep toward his trans friends and family. In what felt like another jab, RuPaul tweeted: “You can take performance enhancing drugs and still be an athlete, just not in the Olympics.” 

This is in reference to trying to say RuPaul has no problem towards drag queens who are taking hormone replacements, but that they are similar to steroids and enhancement drugs and should therefore not be allowed in his "Drag Race." 

Then, to make matters worse, he tried to apologize for his comments but failed again miserably by using a piece of art entitled Train Landscape instead of the transgender flag in a tweet attempting to apologize to the transgender community for his previous comments. 

At the end of the day, it is just disappointing to see such high-ranking members of the LGBT community disregarding entire groups of LGBT individuals. 

This portion of Cuby’s article really stuck with me long after reading. “By proclaiming that only cisgender men are worthy of a seat at his table, RuPaul had ‘enforced the patriarchy's gender binary that shackles queer people.’” I think he is making a bold statement that will be reverberating in the community’s minds for the weeks to come, especially as the tenth season of "RuPaul’s Drag Race" comes onto air. 

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