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‘Gay Men Don’t Own Drag’: Peppermint Responds to RuPaul’s Trans-Exclusionary Comments

Peppermint, the openly transgender runner-up of Season 9 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, recently wrote an editorial for Billboard addressing RuPaul’s recent apology for saying that she’d probably never allow a trans woman who had transitioned to compete on her reality TV competition. The Peppermint column challenges RuPaul’s assertion that male-identified drag queens are the best ones to subvert traditional masculinity.

Peppermint begins her column by stating her appreciation for the opportunity to appear on RuPaul’s show. “RuPaul kicked open so many doors for queer and gender non-conforming folks and is an absolute trailblazer in the world of drag,” Peppermint wrote.

“But recently,” she adds, “Ru made statements I disagree with.”

You may recall that RuPaul’s comment about excluding fully transitioned trans women from her show came out in an interview for the UK publication The Guardian. She said:

 [Would I consider a contestant who had fully transitioned?] Probably not. You can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body…. 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.

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Peppermint responded by writing, “Women should not be defined by what surgeries they have or haven’t had,” and, “Ones transition … is entirely personal and cannot be categorized or measured in the context of being blessed by someone else’s validation or approval.”

Peppermint then moved onto her ultimate point:

Trans women and women, have always been directly and indirectly contributing to the art form of drag. Like voting, driving, working, even eventually the Office of President of United States, drag evolves. My hope is that together, we can uplift all forms of drag, both on TV, and in the real world. Gay men do not own the idea of gender performance.

Regarding the idea that men are in the best position to challenge masculinity through drag, Peppermint wrote, “Unfortunately it won’t be the first or last time we will hear a woman can’t do something a man can. I’m out to change that.”

What do you think of the Peppermint column? Sound off in the comments.