I’m sorry, but I’m liking RuPaul less and less the more that I investigate his history and see clips of him throwing around the “trannie” word, and claiming such things as that the only difference between a transgender woman and a drag queen was “$25,000 and a good surgeon.”
In this latest churning of the saga, RuPaul is coming under more fire for alleged transphobia in his Drag Race program. Commenting on RuPaul’s apparent inability to cease equivocating drag performers and transwomen, blogger Rafi D’Angelo, who was carried on Slate, posted the following, which I think all of you should read.
“Part of the problem with this little game is that a drag queen is not, in fact, a ’psychological woman.’ A drag queen is a drag queen. A drag queen goes home at night, takes off the wigs and makeup, and is still a man. You can be the most feminine queen in drag, but, at the end of day, you still enjoy the privileges of being a cisgender man. Trans women don’t have that option. They are women every day, and that comes with the threat of ridicule, exposure, and violence. True, there are male-to-female transgender folks who gravitated toward drag as part of their journey through gender identity, but that’s a limited case. Generally speaking, to put drag queens, who pretend to be something like women as a profession or hobby, in the same category with trans women-which is to say, real women-is offensive.”
RuPaul has not personally responded to the growing criticisms, but rather has relied upon joint statements from the show’s team of officials to respond thus:
“We delight in celebrating every color in the LGBT rainbow,” RuPaul Charles, Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, Tom Campbell, Steven Corfe and Mandy Salangsang said in a joint statement via NewNowNext. “When it comes to the movement of our trans sisters and trans brothers, we are newly sensitized and more committed than ever to help spread love, acceptance and understanding.”
And next we have two transgender contestants of RuPaul’s Drag Race, who have come out to criticize the program. The first one is model Carmen Carrera, who states:
“I am certain ’RuPaul’s Drag Race’ didn’t mean to be offensive, let this be a learning experience. I think the show has opened up and educated the minds of many people who were ignorant to the world of drag and has made equality and respect a possibility for those involved, not only as equal beings, but as phenomenal artists. There has always been a huge presence of trans artists in the drag scene. ’Shemale’ is an incredibly offensive term, and this whole business about if you can tell whether a woman is biological or not is getting kind of old. We live in a new world where understanding and acceptance are on the rise. ’Drag Race’ should be a little smarter about the terms they use and comprehend the fight for respect trans people are facing every minute of today. They should use their platform to educate their viewers truthfully on all facets of drag performance art.”
Strong words. Also strong are the words of Monica Beverly Hillz, who stated:
“After my experience of being on the show, I would say that, to me, the use of the words ’she-male,’ ’ladyboy’ and ’tranny’ are not cute at all,” she said. “I have fought, and still am fighting, for respect from society — to be accepted as a woman and not referred to as a ’tranny’ or “’she-male.’”
“People don’t understand the daily struggle it is to be a transgender woman. Some days are great and some days I can’t be around anyone because I have so much anxiety, so much on my mind and just feel alone in this world.
After being on TV and coming out, it is very difficult to live a normal life. So when you see a show that you look up to and have been a part of, it kind of sucks hearing them use those words.
I will say that RuPaul and the entire cast and production team were amazing. To this day they still check up on me, so for that I am forever grateful.
However, maybe some things need to be changed about the show, because it’s not just a drag show anymore. We have beautiful transgender cast mates paving the way for all transgender showgirls.”
Many of my friends will disagree with me, but I’m stunned in just the relatively short time that I’ve been an activist in the growing gulf between trangender persons and crossdressers and drag performers. I may have to do some research on this.