It’s been a pretty good week for transgender representation in the world/media. Belgium appointed a transwoman as its next Deputy PM (!), New Zealand and Canada are on the verge of banning conversion therapy (!!) and, the US editions of RuPaul’s Drag Race might finally start casting transwomen and drag kings (!!!).
Back in 2018, Drag Race host RuPaul Charles faced backlash online for his views on non-cis-male drag performers and claiming that a transgender woman undergoing gender reassignment surgery had an unfair competitive edge in the competition. “You can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body,” he told The Guardian.
“It takes on a different thing; it changes the whole concept of what we’re doing. 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.”
“Drag loses its sense of danger and its sense of irony once it’s not men doing it, because at its core it’s a social statement and a big f-you to male-dominated culture,” he told The Guardian. “So for men to do it, it’s really punk rock, because it’s a real rejection of masculinity.”
Sure, the show had casted Peppermint in season nine as its first openly trans contestant, and former contestants like Sonique in season two and Gia Gunn on season six later came out as trans women, but none of them made any physical steps to their transition until after appearing on the show. In an interview with Out Magazine, Gia admitted that she even postponed her surgery to be eligible for All Stars 4.
Tbh, it’s always felt quite regressive for a show that pioneers itself on queer excellence and diversity, and the legacy and community that was carried by and on the back of trans performers, to, like, not show and celebrate that. But, in a recent interview with Digital Spy, World of Wonder co-founders Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato gave us some hope for the future.
In the piece, the pair were asked about the likelihood of seeing drag kings and trans artists on future seasons of Drag Race. Instead of outright confirming it, the duo reminded the outlet of the show’s mantra—Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent—and that “that does not exclude anyone.”
“Our constant mantra is “Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent”, and that does not exclude anyone,” Bailey told Digital Spy.
“I mean, obviously we can’t reveal future casts. So until then, all will be revealed.”
“And there’s been trans people on the show,” added Barbato. “It is “Charisma, Uniqueness Nerve and Talent”, so it would not be some headline-making news. For some people it would be, but yeah.”
*Spoiler alert for RuPaul’s Drag Race season 13 and RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 6*
According to the RuPaul’s Drag Race subreddit, World of Wonder might ~finally~ be giving the gays what we want. RuPaul’s Drag Race season 13 is said to allegedly include a trans performer—Mik—just as RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 6 could see the return of trans contestants Jiggly Caliente and Sonique. And, it should be noted that trans and nonbinary drag performers have been a welcome addition to Drag Race Thailand—the unproblematic, bombastic and insanely-talented lip-sync extravaganza spin-off that steps all over the rest of the Drag Race series. The show also previously dabbled with bio-queens—cis-gendered women who do drag—in a wholesome makeover challenge last season.
Header image source: GottMik on Instagram.