It all started with an interview for The Guardian. The UK publication sat down with RuPaul — the namesake behind hit reality competition series RuPaul’s Drag Race — to discuss the radical message behind a show going on its 10th season. (Drag Race Season 10 premieres March 22.) But instead of a flurry of “Yaasss queen”s and “Werrrrq, Mama Ru”s the interview was largely met by double-takes and discontent, primarily regarding RuPaul’s remarks concerning trans Drag Race contestants. Would a trans woman who has transitioned be allowed to compete? “Probably not,” he said.
The Guardian interview saw many people taken aback, presumably because they assumed trans women would be welcomed onto the TV series with open arms. It should be noted, however, that a trans woman who has fully “transitioned” — or has had “top surgery” even — has yet to appear on the series. Of the series’ seven past openly trans contestants, five came out as trans following their stint on the show, one came out on the runway (Monica Beverly Hillz) and another was cast on Drag Race as a trans woman (Peppermint).
Today saw more movement online concerning this trans Drag Race contestants hullabaloo, following a Twitter post from RuPaul. “You can take performance enhancing drugs and still be an athlete, just not in the Olympics,” the tweet reads. Some have taken offense that the tweet compares trans drag queens (and presumably “bio queens” as well, cis women who consider themselves drag queens) to doping athletes.
Since the original Guardian interview was published, many former Drag Race contestants have voiced their own opinions concerning RuPaul’s remarks on trans Drag Race contestants. Some are in strong disagreement, while others agree with RuPaul’s stance. Many sit somewhere in the middle, and many more have opted to not speak up at all.
BenDeLaCreme, whose name was on the tip of everyone’s tongue following a rather controversial elimination last episode, took to Instagram to weigh in:
A tweet by Mic’s Evan Ross Katz had several past contestant queens talking, including Jiggly Caliente, Madame LaQueer, Monica Beverly Hillz, Gia Gunn and Peppermint.
Imagine Drag Race without @JinkxMonsoon @Peppermint247 @GiaGunn @StacyLMatthews @KenyaMichaels @JigglyCaliente @Carmen_Carrera @officialsonique @MonicaBHillz. Trans and nonbinary folks are within the DNA of both RPDR and drag throughout history. Let's celebrate them.
— Ξvan Ross Katz (@evanrosskatz) March 4, 2018
Courtney Act, who is no stranger to getting political on her social media platforms, had this to say on Twitter:
The revolution is intersectional and so is drag
— Courtney Act (@courtneyact) March 5, 2018
Gia Gunn weighed in:
Although I do feel the separation from being a drag queen and now a trans woman, there should not be any reason to be “not accepted” when it comes to the art of drag. If you are a fierce artist, your a fierce artist & should be judged based on your art. NOT your gender identity!
— Gia Gunn (@GiaGunn) March 5, 2018
As did Sasha Velour:
My drag was born in a community full of trans women, trans men, and gender non-conforming folks doing drag. That’s the real world of drag, like it or not. I thinks it’s fabulous and I will fight my entire life to protect and uplift it.
— Sasha Velour (@sasha_velour) March 5, 2018
On Facebook, Season 3 winner Raja referenced last night’s Oscars, specifically Frances McDormand’s mention of an “inclusion rider.” He said, “If I had my own show, I would inclusion rider all forms of drag expression. I don’t have a show. Ru has his own show, he can do as he pleases.”
Willam — who last year faced criticism for comments of his own that some deemed transphobic — has taken to Instagram to voice his discontent at the idea of excluding trans Drag Race contestants:
We work with trans women every night side by side and for them to be denied the opportunities because of someone’s narrowminded view on what they call “drag” is fucked. And to my sisters who read this- doing the right thing ain’t always easy, but it’ll help u sleep at night. My motto is no sister left behind. I practice it every time i visit Mathu and when i stood up for him with the Emmy’s. Hell i did it in the airport yesterday with @therealtsmadison when we was running for our flight. Do something. Do it. Tag your favorite Ru Girls. I’ll start. Don’t let this slide. This is discrimination within our own community. @theonlyalaska5000 @thebiancadelrio @bobthedragqueen @bebezahara @tyrasanchez @thejinkx @sutanamrull @violetchachki @sashavelour @sharonneedlespgh @chadmichaelsallstar
Manila Luzon offered up a less aggressive response to the controversy on her Facebook page, stating, “My advice to the Trans and Bio Queens hoping to change Ru’s mind…rules can be broken, if Ru wants the dramatic transition from boy to girl, then go all “Victor Victoria” on us and send in an audition tape!”
While RuPaul has since apologized for his comments, we expect more queens to weigh in as discussion surrounding trans Drag Race contestants continues, and we’ll be adding them here.