LGBTQ icon RuPaul has come under fire for comments he made in an interview last week regarding the transgender community and their possible inclusion on future seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Speaking to The Guardian for a profile piece, Ru made mention of what he feels drag is and what it isn’t.
“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,” he said.
Talk then turned to Peppermint, the first-ever trans woman to compete on Drag Race during Season 9. Contestant Monica Beverly Hillz, from Season 5, didn’t reveal her trans status until midway through the season.
RuPaul mentioned that while Peppermint had begun transitioning, she hadn’t yet received breast implants, therefore causing her to still appear as male.
He then revealed that there would probably never be a fully trans competitor on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
“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. 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,” he said.
Once RuPaul’s words hit the internet, many people took Ru to task, accusing him of acting as a gatekeeper of sorts to the world of drag. Rather than back down, however, RuPaul doubled down on his statements, first re-sharing the Guardian sit down on his Twitter, before responding personally on his social media profiles, according to the Huffington Post.
“Ego loves identity, drag mocks identity, ego hates drag,” read one response.
“You can take performance enhancing drugs and still be an athlete, just not in the Olympics,” read another.
By this time, several past RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants of both cisgender and transgender varieties, as well as a handful of fans, lobbed angry responses at Ru. Some of them can be seen below.
you have zero right to gatekeep drag, drag is an art form, it can be interpreted and executed in many different ways, drag was always about freedom, liberty and self confidence, disallowing particular people that luxury in your eyes is limiting and wrong, but go ahead block me
— ANGUSRAZE (@ANGUSRAZE) March 5, 2018
How is transitioning to female "performance-enhancing"? That would seem to imply that the end goal of drag is simply to look like the fishiest woman. I was led to believe it was about charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent. And turning the very idea of gender on its head.
— Quiçá (@lackOfDaysical) March 5, 2018
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
On Monday night, hours after first seemingly attacking the trans community, RuPaul issued an apology.
“Each morning I pray to set aside everything I THINK I know, so I may have an open mind and a new experience,” it read. “I understand and regret the hurt I have caused. The trans community are heroes of our shared LGBTQ movement. You are my teachers.”
He also backed away from disallowing any trans contestants to try their hand to compete on future seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
“In the 10 years we’ve been casting Drag Race, the only thing we’ve ever screened for is charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent,” he wrote. “And that will never change.”