RuPaul Apologizes to Trans Community, But Will Drag Race Change?

RuPaul

RuPaul issued a statement Monday on Twitter to transgender people, regretting recent remarks that many interpreted as transphobic.

“Each morning I pray to set aside everything I THINK I know, so I may have an open mind and a new experience. I understand and regret the hurt I have caused. The trans community are heroes of our shared LGBTQ movement. You are my teachers,” RuPaul wrote.

“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,” he added.

RuPaul came under fire when he told The Guardian in a recent interview that he would "probably not" allow a transgender woman who had undergone gender-confirmation surgery to compete on the reality show.

"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," he said. "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."

The remarks led to an outcry among many in the trans community, including past contestants on the show, who said RuPaul was being a biased gatekeeper of the drag world. Alexandra Billings, a transgender star of Amazon's Transparent, wrote in a searing letter on Instagram, “Dear RuPaul, you did not invent drag. We did.”

RuPaul further aggravated the criticism when he compared transgender drag performers to doping athletes Monday morning on Twitter. The remarks have not been deleted from social media.

RuPaul’s new statement about Drag Race’s casting process — the only requirements being charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent — contradicts views expressed in past interviews, including the most recent. In 2016, RuPaul also told The Advocate he would not allow drag kings — female drag performers — to participate in the show.

“If a female were to do drag, it loses the irony,” RuPaul said. When asked why drag kings would not be cast in the future, Ru explained, "If you mix it up it's like trying to make a Mac computer compatible with a PC. … They don’t really mix.”

On Twitter, users argued over whether RuPaul's statement was indeed an apology. "Sorry" was absent from the language, and the drag performer said he regretted "the hurt" he caused as opposed to the words. References to casting policies were also vague, with no indication there would be any change or that he misspoke.

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