By Sawyer Pollitt, Staff Writer
RuPaul’s Drag Race has been surging in popularity lately. Many are completely enthralled in one of TV’s only drag competition. Besides sheer entertainment value, this show has brought drag performances into the mainstream and has skyrocketed the careers and celebrity status of many amazing drag queens. However, RuPaul, the host of Drag Race, has recently sashayed into hot water with comments made regarding the trans community.
In a recent interview with The Guardian, RuPaul had this to say about whether or not a fully transitioned trans woman should compete in Drag Race “Probably not. 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.”
These comments have sparked discussion and some outrage in the trans community. Some are saying that it is hypocritical for RuPaul to say “We’ve had some girls who’ve had some injections in the face and maybe a little bit in the butt here and there, but they haven’t transitioned.” Yet also claim that he wouldn’t allow a trans woman who has undergone body modification to compete.
This raises the question of when to draw the line. If its ok for a man to have facial injections to compete in Drag Race, why do other forms of body modification disqualify a person from competing?
RuPaul also said on twitter “You can take performance enhancing drugs and still be an athlete, just not in the Olympics.” This comment likens the act of transitioning in a drag competition to taking performance enhancing drugs in the Olympics.
While this analogy may ring true in the sense that a person should be able to win with what they can naturally bring to the table, it is hard to differentiate between a man who is medically changing himself to look more feminine and a trans woman during transition who is competing on the show. This idea presents a very blurry line that can be hard to define.
Regardless of what RuPaul meant by their comments, and regardless of if the outrage felt toward them is justified. There was a dramatic error on RuPaul’s part. When issuing an apparent apology on twitter stating “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.”
RuPaul accompanied this message with a picture of, not the trans flag, not the LGBTQ+ pride flag, but a painting called Train Landscape by Ellsworth Kelly. This painting, although similar to both the trans and LGBTQ+ flags with horizontal blocks of color and a simple design, does not in any way represent any group besides train enthusiasts.
Although this is an easily explainable mistake, the fact that it came during the climax of an arguably heated and important debate is an obvious misstep on RuPaul’s part.
It is clear how it happened. While typing in “Trans flag” it is easy for a stray “I” to slip in. However, the lack of oversight clearly demonstrates either incompetence, a lack of awareness, or just apathy toward the issue.
It is possible, of course, that this mistake may be intentional. With the season finale of Drag Race occurring shortly after the post went viral, this may be a last-ditch effort to garner some extra viewership. After all, any publicity is good publicity.