While RuPaul is viewed as an icon in a large part of the LGBT community, mostly the gay community, it’s important to remember that RuPaul is wildly transphobic. The trans community have stated time and time again that RuPaul is massively problematic and harms them. With the 9th season of Drag Race just having begun, it’s obvious that cis people are still supporting him and cis people have to do better. We need to use our platforms to speak against the perpetration of violence against trans people.
Drag Race is damaging because generally cis people lump drag queens and trans women into the same category. Though there have been trans drag queens, several even coming out on Drag Race, generally drag queens are cis men, dressing up for fun. Trans women have stated that drag performers pandering to an audience of cis people can cause confusion over someone that cross dresses, and someone’s gender identity. This is detrimental to the trans community, as people tend to believe that both experiences are the same, and it takes away the seriousness of someone’s gender identity and experience.
With criticism about his use of ‘tr*nny’, RuPaul had several wildly offensive, tone deaf statements to make, including, “Does the word ‘tr*nny’ bother me? No. I love the word ‘tr*nny”. The fact that a cis man feels that he gets to determine whether or not a slur is offensive, when it doesn’t apply to him, even after past contestants who’ve since come out as trans women told him that it was offensive, speaks to the level of privilege he has as a cis man. This kind of dismissal of the struggle of an entire group of people is disgusting. RuPaul continued, stating that ‘most’ trans people felt that the use of tr*nny was a joke, “But some people haven’t and they’ve used their victim hood to create a situation”. RuPaul’s dismissal of all trans people that find offense in the violent term, as ‘victims’, adds to the falsehood that people should be able to find humor in situations that lead to the perpetration of violence against them and their communities.
Drag Race also stirred controversy for a segment in an episode several seasons ago, called, “Female or She-Male”, where contestants were supposed to guess, for fun, if the person in the picture was a cis woman, or a drag queen. People were rightfully offended at the use of the term, as it’s used to dehumanize trans people and is a term used to abuse them. After backlash the episode featuring the segment was pulled, as well as the regular part of the episode announcing “you’ve got she-mail” that had been used for the first six seasons. The fact that they felt it was appropriate to air a show on a supposed LGBT focused network, that used both the term tr*nny and she-male, just fuels ignorance and hateful terminology against trans people.
RuPaul seems unable to grasp that violence against communities can be perpetrated by violent language, which is shown in a tweet he sent during the controversy about the slur stating, “I’ve been a “tr*nny” for 32 years. The word “tr*nny” has never just meant transsexual.”. As it’s slur perpetrated against the trans community, and specifically trans women, he has no business making any kind of statement about it’s use, other than he shouldn’t use it.
Violence against trans women is the highest that members of the LGBT+ community face, with the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Program releasing a study in 2013 stating that 72% of homicide victims of hate crime were transgender women, and 67% of them were trans women of color. However, by 2014 the hate crimes against trans and gender non conforming people had jumped 3 times the amount of the year before, and hate crimes against trans people are higher than all other members of the LGBT+ every year so far.
With a part of the LGBT+ community being attacked and murdered, it is cis people’s duty to help destroy harmful stereotypes, weaponized terminology, and violent slurs used for ‘comedy’ and stop supporting people that help perpetrate violence against the trans community. It’s especially important to stop cis people from using their platforms to declare what trans people find offensive or not, in RuPaul’s case, he denies trans people are offended, and insults any that are. Instead of supporting cis men who have nothing better to do than perpetrate violence towards trans women, support shows that are made by, or feature trans people in roles that are helpful in destroying harmful stereotypes. It’s much more helpful in erasing violence against the trans community.