Trans Icon to RuPaul: 'You Did Not Invent Drag. We Did'

RuPaul

RuPaul has reignited controversy with the transgender community.

The gay host of RuPaul's Drag Race 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."

There have been transgender contestants on RuPaul's Drag Race. But most, like Carmen Carrera, Gia Gunn, and Jiggly Caliente, came out after the show. The contestant Peppermint revealed she was trans during season 9, but RuPaul said he did not disqualify her, because she had not yet undergone major physical changes in her transition. "Peppermint didn’t get breast implants until after she left our show; she was identifying as a woman, but she hadn’t really transitioned," he told The Guardian in the interview published Saturday.

The remarks caused a firestorm of criticism. But RuPaul appeared to stand by them — and pour gasoline on them — in a Monday tweet that compared transgender drag performers to doping athletes.

Members of the RuPaul's Drag Race family and the show's fans took the unusual step of speaking out against RuPaul, who they called out for being a biased gatekeeper of the drag world.

Alexandra Billings, a transgender star of Amazon's Transparent, also took the world's most famous drag queen to task in a searing letter on Instagram.

This is not the first time RuPaul has butted heads with the trans community. In May 2014, the drag performer told interviewer Marc Maron, "I love the word tranny." In the podcast episode, RuPaul defended the use of transphobic language on RuPaul's Drag Race. That season, the show came under fire when contestants were asked to label close-up red-carpet photographs as either “female” or “shemale” in a mini-challenge.

Carrera and Monica Beverly Hillz, trans alumni of Drag Race, were among the show's most vocal critics. An Advocate interview with trans alumni slamming RuPaul for transphobic language went viral in April 2014

Ultimately, Drag Race producers apologized and removed transphobic language from a popular segment, “You’ve Got Shemail,” which had been present from the show’s inception. But RuPaul appeared to be unmoved in his beliefs.

“I’ve actually stayed away from this dialogue forever because it’s a lose-lose situation. You cannot win with this,” he told Maron. “I believe what I believe. You believe what you believe. Let’s just call it a truce.”

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