Trans ’Drag Race’ Contestants Speak Out on Show’s Alleged Transphobia

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Thursday Apr 3, 2014

Carmen Carrera, who appeared on season three of "RuPaul's Drag Race" in 2011 and came out as transgender soon after, has responded to criticisms that a recent episode of popular reality show was transphobic. Additionally, season five vet Monica Beverly Hillz, who is trans, also shared her thoughts on the controversy, the Huffington Post reports.

In the episode, the contestants competed in a mini-challenge called "Female or She-Male," where they looked at photos of celebrities and guessed if the image was of a "biological" or "psychological" woman by holding up a sign that read, "Female" or "She-male."

Some were offended by the game, saying that the term "she-male" is a transgender slur. RuPaul and the reality show's producers, however, released a joint statement regarding the issue.

"We delight in celebrating every color in the LGBT rainbow," the statement reads. "When it comes to the movement of our trans sisters and trans brothers, we are newly sensitized and more committed than ever to help spread love, acceptance and understanding."

Now, two trans contestants of "Drag Race" have come forward to share their views on the controversy.

Carmen Carrera, who has made headlines for becoming a trans model and for promoting transgender rights on a national level, took to Facebook Monday to address the issue:

"I am certain ’RuPaul’s Drag Race’ didn’t mean to be offensive, let this be a learning experience. I think the show has opened up and educated the minds of many people who were ignorant to the world of drag and has made equality and respect a possibility for those involved, not only as equal beings, but as phenomenal artists. There has always been a huge presence of trans artists in the drag scene. ’Shemale’ is an incredibly offensive term, and this whole business about if you can tell whether a woman is biological or not is getting kind of old. We live in a new world where understanding and acceptance are on the rise. ’Drag Race’ should be a little smarter about the terms they use and comprehend the fight for respect trans people are facing every minute of today. They should use their platform to educate their viewers truthfully on all facets of drag performance art. ?#?SheHasSpoken?"

HuffPo spoke with Monica Beverly Hillz, who came out as transgender during the fifth season of "Drag Race" last year, to get her take on the controversy and to "provide the opportunity to publically contextualize her feelings about the allegations of transphobia on the show."

"After my experience of being on the show, I would say that, to me, the use of the words ’she-male,’ ’ladyboy’ and ’tranny’ are not cute at all," she said. "I have fought, and still am fighting, for respect from society -- to be accepted as a woman and not referred to as a ’tranny’ or "’she-male.’"

She added:

"People don’t understand the daily struggle it is to be a transgender woman. Some days are great and some days I can’t be around anyone because I have so much anxiety, so much on my mind and just feel alone in this world.

After being on TV and coming out, it is very difficult to live a normal life. So when you see a show that you look up to and have been a part of, it kind of sucks hearing them use those words.

I will say that RuPaul and the entire cast and production team were amazing. To this day they still check up on me, so for that I am forever grateful.

However, maybe some things need to be changed about the show, because it’s not just a drag show anymore. We have beautiful transgender cast mates paving the way for all transgender showgirls."


  • , 2014-04-02 19:51:38

    I was born a woman...... I dont see the insult in any way. I love Rupaul and I want to thank her letting open minded Straight people like me into her world so that we can apprieciate the the Glamor and Art of Drag. It will take more then this subject for me to turn her her.Rupauls Drag Race has paved the way for Beautiful Drag Queens to express themselves and I will always keep that in mind when something like this is brought up against her.

  • , 2014-04-02 20:48:07

    Carmen is full of HIMself. He’s just looking for attention.

  • , 2014-04-03 11:24:48

    These contestants need to get a life. They readily participate on the show, then turn on Ru after. If anything it doesn’t matter if they are trans, bi, or whatever. They all are just slimy.

  • , 2014-04-03 11:38:58

    I’m a big fan of the show(Rupaul Drag Race) been watching for awhile now. I remember when both ladies announce that they were transgender everyone was very open hearted to them. For both of them to down the show is very wrong. That show is helping to build careers for them. I make it my business to watch every Monday because I have two nephews who are transgender and I love them to death. I see nothing wrong with it Maury does a show every year asking if they are Male or Female. I see Logo using a lot of the past season queen in a Oral Quick commercial. Keep up the good work Rupaul. Hell there makeup be on point. I agree with David Bolinger ladies put your big girl panties on and get out your feelings. Your names are out here so in my Rupaul voice U BETTER WORK.

  • , 2014-04-03 20:14:31

    Obviously the show chose poorly in their use of a prime time gimmick. "She-male" is overtly offensive and is only used in a derogatory context to exemplify a sense of "true gender" by those who wish to ignore the shades of grey and define everything in black in white. Albeit that there was a viable worth for the pretext of such a challenge it was obviously done poorly. Let there be no mistake that the spirit of this mini-game was more likely to have been based on word play than a true transgender bias. However, be clear that champions within the LGBT community who air live television should take into account that a wider spectrum of viewers see this material as well and could inadvertently encourage individuals to take on the very bias the show has worked so hard to dismantle. Whether it’s a pebble or a boulder, all solid objects create ripples when thrown into the proverbial pool.

  • , 2014-04-04 07:33:57

    RuPauls Drag Race has opened many doors for our community. To say they are transphobic is just wrong. If they were then they would not have made yhe show. To use the platform that was given to them to speak ill of the person that gave it to them is just wrong. We have become so sensitive to words that are being used. Instead of giving the word that much power, take it back and show the world that sticks and stones may brake our bones but words will never hurt us. I come from a time I wished only words were used. People got physical because they were not educated in the world of LGBT.What these ladies need to rremember is that "If you can’t love yourself how in the hell are you going to love anybody else? " Can I get an AMEN.

  • , 2014-04-04 10:25:59

    I have been a "shemale", "tranny", "he-she", for 25 years... Who gives a fuck what anyone calls it, I am not offended because I will not allow words to offend me. I will not bitch, complain, or lay down and cry, because I refuse to willingly place myself in a victim role. There has been a real trend in the LGBT the last few years, of being "poor me I’m a victim" crap, grow up, stop being pussies, remember you are only offended when you haven’t found your self worth. With the way the world is today crying about being called a shemale is just utterly selfish and pathetic, and also a sign of deep emotional problems. When you find peace in yourself for who you are, the words wont matter... and I will also say this there are very few "trannies" out there who are at peace. Life is hard and at time sucks for EVERYONE on the planet! "She males", "Tranny", "Chicks with Dicks", is what we are, it is truth. They all mean the same thing, If you don’t like being called a "She male" maybe you shouldn’t have become one. And I don’t want to hear from anyone saying "well the proper word is... Blah Blah Blah... because the definitions are all the same, Men living/presenting themselves as woman, period.

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