An Angry Trans Woman Hits RuPaul's Dragcon 2017f

An Angry Trans Woman Hits RuPaul's Dragcon 2017
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<p>Look how angry I was and I actually liked Trixie Mattel when we met her. Me on the left, Trixie Mattel, and my sweet girlfriend Joanne on the right.</p>

Look how angry I was and I actually liked Trixie Mattel when we met her. Me on the left, Trixie Mattel, and my sweet girlfriend Joanne on the right.

Lara Americo

I admit. I came into this with a strong bias. I have always had issues with drag culture. I came to NYC to visit my partner and she got us tickets. How could I not go?

For the longest I’ve felt like a betrayed lover of the drag world. Growing up I idolized people like Ru Paul. I quoted him to people when I finally realized I needed to transition. I was a fan girl until I realized that RuPaul didn’t support me. Instead he helped to marginalize me.

I can’t say how many times I have spoken to a well-meaning trans ally and had to correct them after comparing a trans woman to a drag queen. Comments like, “Oh I love transgenders! I watch Drag Race!” happen more often that I would like. While this is not the worst thing you can hear from a cis person it is problematic.

“Trans women are not drag queens. Drag queens are men who pretend to be women, then go back to cis male privilege.” Each time, I say it in a way that masks my frustration about the transphobia that has come from drag queens. Each time, I wish that the drag culture did more to support the trans community.

Every so often I fall into cycles of body dysphoria. One of the recurring voices in my mind is when RuPaul was asked, “What’s the difference between you and a trans woman?” She answered smugly, “About $25,000 and a good surgeon.” In my early days of transition I was left wondering, “Is that what makes me a woman?”

Add the constant use of the word tranny and the She-male or Female segment on RuPaul’s Drag Race and I was left broken. This was a person I used to look up to. A person who encouraged me to be myself. My hero betrayed me.

<p>Javits Center, NYC.</p>

Javits Center, NYC.

Lara Americo

I walked into the Javits Center and for a moment thought I was walking into Comic-con. The feeling was interrupted by a giant banner with a photo of Ru Paul’s bent over and the words “Ru Paul’s large opening”. I chuckled as I headed down Tuckahoe Alley and noticed a sign thanking Jeffree Star Cosmetics as a sponsor.

My eyes started to squint as if I my sight was leaving me. Are they really supporting Jeffree ‘Racist’ Star? Isn’t RuPaul black? I shrugged it off. In fact, I shrugged the entire event off and thought, “I’m here. I might as well make the best of it.”

My partner pulled me aside. She had a mission to get a photo taken with Issac Mizrahi. She had met him before as he was eating oatmeal. He refused to take a picture with her but she still eats the oatmeal he ordered with blueberries, pecans, and apple sauce. He was part of a panel called “Drag Does Fashion Week”. We had to go.

I sat in the front row and in my bitterness, I thought, “Why don’t these many people show up for social justice panels?” As my blood started to cook, the panelists arrived. The crowd erupted and I sat there as if a switch had been turned off and thought, “If one person in this room says ‘tranny’ I’m out.”

As the panel went on I noticed similar themes coming up relating drag to fashion and art. Detox Icunt and Milk talked about how their drag life and their real life intersected while Miss Fame and Naomi Smalls revealed how frivolous drag can be. Naomi Smalls eventually left her seat and used the center aisle as her catwalk asking, “Is this high fashion?!”

As Naomi death dropped in the middle of the room, I decided that my beef with drag culture had gone on too long. Why waste energy on something that is so frivolous? How many trans femmes discovered their gender identity by performing in their hometowns in front of their friends? How many lives has drag saved?

My view shifted. I started to see the space in a different light. The room was filled with hundreds of people; all with different gender expressions. This is the way the world should be. Expression should be limitless and fun. For many people in the room, this was their safe space. Who was I to judge that?

Closing the panel, Edward Bess answered a question about the future of fashion saying, “Kids knowing who they are and being accepted. Anyone now can walk around and not get stared at the way we would have in the past.” This is the acceptance that I needed so much when I was a kid and never got.

Drag culture is without question, problematic. Racism and transphobia are just as much a part of drag as stilettos and pancake makeup. The work of transgender women of color towards gay rights is routinely erased and the silence concerning the deaths of transgender people of color is deafening. There is much room for improvement.

Jefferee Starr needs to be held accountable for being racist and RuPaul can never make transphobic comments again. If at the very least, drag can free people from the gender binary then it has some worth. One little kid freed from the abuse that so many gender diverse children go through makes me hope it doesn’t go away.

I still don’t like drag queens. I still feel like my identity as a transwoman is made into a joke. I’m not sure if I will ever change. My only hope is that drag continues to break gender constructs, open doors for gender diverse people, and I get to hate on drag forever.

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