Chaz Bono Talks Trans Issues on RuPaul's Drag Race

The transgender public figure appeared as a Drag Race guest judge the same day the Logo TV network issued an apology for a segment that sparked controversy among trans people.

BY Daniel Reynolds

April 15 2014 1:44 PM ET UPDATED: April 17 2014 9:12 PM ET

Georgia Holt and Chaz Bono

Chaz Bono spoke about his role as a transgender advocate on last night’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

The 45-year-old public figure and the only child of Sonny Bono and Cher appeared alongside his grandmother Georgia Holt in a segment that tasked the contestants to conduct celebrity interviews.

In a conversation with drag performer Courtney Act, Bono opened up about his calling to activism and his decision to document his female-to-male gender transition in the 2011 film Becoming Chaz, which was produced by Drag Race creator World of Wonder.

“You know, there was a number of years where I knew I was transgender but was afraid to do anything about it,” he told Act, a former Australian Idol contestant. “And so it was kind of important for me to kind of give that back. I figured there’s other people out there like me who are stuck.”

Bono, who first came out as a lesbian in a 1995 cover story for The Advocate, also conversed with season 6 contestant Bianca Del Rio about his 1998 book Family Outing: A Guide to the Coming Out Process for Gays, Lesbians, and Their Families, in which he detailed the first time he “felt different,” at age 13.

“As my hormones started to go, I had an attraction towards women,” Bono said. “And so I naturally just made the assumption that I must be gay, and that must be what all these feelings are.”

Bono’s episode aired the same day that Logo TV issued an apology for a controversial RuPaul’s Drag Race episode broadcast earlier this season. On March 17, the popular reality show featured a mini-challenge titled "Female or She-male," in which the show's contestants were shown a photo of a person's body part and then asked whether the picture was a "female" — meaning a cisgender (nontrans) woman — or a "she-male" — meaning someone who was assigned male at birth but presents in a feminine manner.

Logo has since removed this episode from its online archive and vowed that another controversial segment, “You’ve Got She-mail,” in which RuPaul addresses the contestants in a tongue-in-cheek video at the beginning of each episode, will not be included in future seasons.

"We wanted to thank the community for sharing their concerns around a recent segment and the use of the term 'she-mail' on Drag Race," the statement begins. "Logo has pulled the episode from all of our platforms and that challenge will not appear again. Furthermore, we are removing the 'You've got she-mail' intro from new episodes of the series. We did not intend to cause any offense, but in retrospect we realize that it was insensitive. We sincerely apologize."

RuPaul has not issued an official comment on the controversy, but he cited George Orwell's dystopian novel Animal Farm on social media shortly after Logo's apology.

"Orwell's book ANIMAL FARM: The rebels eventually forgot the purpose of the revolution #LibraryIsOpen," RuPaul Tweeted.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified Bono as a male-to-female transgender person. Bono, who was assigned female at birth, is a female-to-male transgender man. The Advocate regrets this error. 

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