News :: National

’Drag Race’ Comes Under Fire for Transphobia, RuPaul Responds

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Monday Mar 31, 2014
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  (Source:Facebook)

A recent challenge titled "Female or She-Male" on an episode of Logo’s popular reality competition series "RuPaul’s Drag Race" has some crying "transphobia." In response to the criticism, RuPaul Charles and members of the production company World of Wonder issued a statement,Slate reports.

In a recent blog post by Rafi D’Angelo (which was also posted to Slate), the writer points out the problems and discomforts he had regarding a mini-challenge on an episode "Drag Race" called "Female or She-Male," which asked the competing drag queens to examine photographs of celebrities and guess if the image was of a "biological" or "psychological" woman by holding up a sign that either read "Female" or "She-male."

"Society has come a long way in respecting difference, and the queer community especially has become more open about gender identity and expression," D’Angelo writes. "But we are far from the day when a trans woman will be able to walk down the street without fear of hearing insults or worse, and suggesting that ’shemale’ is an acceptable word-even as a joke-is not helpful in getting us there."

D’Angelo adds:
"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."


  (Source:Facebook)

D’Agnelo concludes that, while he isn’t a trans person "it’s pretty clear that using a derogatory term like ’shemale’ to directly refer to a human being is a no-go."

"Society has come a long way in respecting difference, and the queer community especially has become more open about gender identity and expression," he adds. "But we are far from the day when a trans woman will be able to walk down the street without fear of hearing insults or worse, and suggesting that ’shemale’ is an acceptable word-even as a joke-is not helpful in getting us there."

RuPual and other officials from "Drag Race," which is currently in its sixth season on Logo, have replied to the concerns raised about the so-called transphobic challenge.

"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."

Logo TV, which is owned by Viacom, also released a statement:

"We have heard the concerns around this segment. We are committed to sharing a diverse range of trans stories across all of our screens and look forward to featuring positive and groundbreaking stories of trans people in the future."

Additionally, as the Huffington Post reports GLAAD released a statement addressing the issue of transphobia on the popular reality show. GLAAD writes that they tried to speak to "Drag Race" producers immediately after the segment aired, and says:

"We have heard the concerns around this segment. We are committed to sharing a diverse range of trans stories across all of our screens and look forward to featuring positive and groundbreaking stories of trans people in the future."


Comments

  • Anonymous, 2014-04-01 05:28:35

    Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t RuPauls say "You’ve got she-mail" at the beginning of every episode giving little hints about what the challenge is going to be. If the big thing is that it shouldn’t be used even in a joking way why did it take so long for people to bring it up?


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