Drag Queens Are Calling Out RuPaul Over Controversial Trans Comments

6 March 2018, 16:21 | Updated: 6 March 2018, 16:44

RuPaul. Picture: Emmys

By Josh Lee

RuPaul has said he "understands and regrets the hurt [he] has caused" after comments he made about transgender and cis-female drag queens in a recent interview caused backlash.

In an interview with The Guardian this weekend, RuPaul said that “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.”

He added that transgender women who had undergone surgical transition procedures wouldn't be eligible for the show, citing Peppermint, the season 9 finalist whose post-show breast surgery became a talking point in the wider debate about trans Drag Race contestants.

“Probably not," RuPaul said when asked if Peppermint would be able to compete on show after breast surgery. "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."

RuPaul's comments were described as "transphobic," "misogynistic" and "exclusionary" by many drag fans and queens, with many former Drag Race contestants taking the opportunity to celebrate drag performers who aren't male or cisgender. The veteran drag queen then appeared to double down on his beliefs, tweeting "You can take performance enhancing drugs and still be an athlete, just not in the Olympics."

Jiggly Caliente, a season four Drag Race contestant who came out as transgender several years after leaving the show said she wanted "to be respected by my own community," to which Jinkx Monsoon, winner of Season five and non-binary drag queen replied "amen sis." Peppermint tweeted a series of sad emojis, while Gia Gun, a season six contestant who came out as transgender after leaving the show said, "to now hear such words of segregation from an icon who has created a world wide community of unity, makes me sad."

It wasn't just transgender Drag Race contestants who spoke out. Season nine winner Sasha Valour tweeted, "My drag was born in a community full of trans women, trans men, and gender non-conforming folk doing drag. That's the real world of drag, like it or not. I think it's fabulous and I will fight my entire life to protect and uplift it." Season six finalist Courtney Act echoed Sasha's sentiments, saying "The revolution is intersectional and so is drag."

Michelle Visage, RuPaul's long-time collaborator and co-judge on Drag Race tweeted that drag had always included transgender people.

Following the backlash, RuPaul described transgender people as "heroes of our shared LGBTQ movement"

"You are my teachers," he added.

In a later tweet, seemingly referencing his previous comments about transgender Drag Race contestants, RuPaul said, "In the 10 years we've been casting Drag Race the only thing we've ever screened for is charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent. And that will never change."