In this, the age of the fight for equality, there’s a struggle within a struggle that no one seems to want to talk about....discrimination amongst the discriminated against. Someone always has to feel superior to another. I believe everyone is aware of how the so-called healthy community discriminates against HIV+ people (which leads to many not disclosing because of it), but when a form of discrimination is budding on national television against any one group we should stand up and take notice before it grows into something bigger.
We all know about how people drop the word “fag” or “gay” in conversation like it isn’t a big deal. I have often caught myself saying it as well because it has become so much a part of the vernacular. But now there’s a new one that is replacing those - the word “tranny”. And it seems like it represents the new low on the totem poll.
The LGBT community is segregated into groups. Amongst gay men there are muscle-queens, twinks, bears, daddies, drag queens and transsexuals. And for some reason they seem to fall in that order on the scene. The muscle-queens and twinks think that it’s their scene and everyone else is just in it. The bears and daddies have declared their own scene. And that leaves the drag queens and the transsexuals. Drag queens seem to be accepted, but for transsexual women it seems that being misgendered is commonplace.
Because of RuPaul’s Drag Race the drag community now has a popular presence in pop culture. But the show is actually discriminating against transsexuals. This season is the all-stars edition. Where’s Carmen Carera? I’m sure there are plenty of fans of the show who would have loved to had seen her compete this year.
I don’t watch the show, mainly because I think it is the worst thing that has happened to the art of female impersonation. After Ru’s first season started, Ru gave an interview with one of the NYC gay publications and said that she didn’t think that NY gyrls had what it took to be in it. I began my boycott after reading that. But hearing RuPaul call transsexuals “gay drag queens” is definitely reason for everyone to stand up against this misgendering and boycott Drag Race. The voice of trans-women is being ignored for corporate greed.
Most would say that RuPaul is helping the drag community. But what is the objective of her competition? To get her approval. She may have celebrity guest judges, but she has the final word on who stays and who goes.
Earlier this year, I competed in the Miss Continental Elite pageant in Chicago. I believe there was a different kind of discrimination going on there. That pageant is really for transsexuals. There have been a couple of boys in dresses who have made it through, but for the most part it is for the gyrls who live as women. A few folks were upset by my blog, “My Moment At The Baton”. Mainly because I described what I saw, a pageant system that is designed to make the owner of the system a lot of money while these gyrls work hard and spend thousands and thousands of dollars to get a title that really doesn’t carry any weight outside of that circle.
And the one subject that was prominent the entire weekend was “how Drag Race has changed the scene for work”. It used to be that a title meant you got bookings all over the country. Now, all the bars and promoters only want the Drag Race gyrls. Because I am a recording artist and perform live, I still get gigs here and there, but these gyrls are getting paid because they were on TV. And the gay community is eating it up. So, RuPaul has really changed the work dynamic all over the U.S.
But the other thing the show has done is given Ru license to say and do anything. Most don’t want to call her out for stealing the ballroom lingo for most of her career, but I guess it was the same when Madonna stole vogue-ing and brought it to the mainstream. Hell...even the Scissor Sisters are enjoying the art of boosting from this underground culture with their “kiki”. And so Drag Race has plenty of lines and snaps that take swipes at transsexuals and now these words are used like “fag” and “gay”. But do you think that this is damaging to transsexuals? Of course it is!
I was watching Anderson Cooper on November 2nd and he was describing his idea for Halloween on his talk show. His obsession with Honey Boo Boo is kind of sick, but he was going to have one of his techs dress up as her mother because (and I quote) "I do not do drag. I refuse to take that step. It's too much I think.” The idea that he thought that was OK to say on TV after just coming out this year (even though we all knew) really kind of upset me. But this is how some gay men think. Drag queens, transsexuals and even effeminate men are an embarrassment for professional gay men like Anderson Cooper. So, I don’t think Ru will be invited on his show during this final season (since he was not picked up for a third).
So, when my husband came across a Facebook group calling for a boycott of RuPaul’s Drag Race, I was curious. I had read several blogs and Facebook conversations of contestants who were on his show complaining about the treatment they received or the losses they took after being on the show. I was surprised to find that it was MAGNET (Media Advocates Giving National Equality to Transsexual and Transgendered People). It started after the October 29th broadcast when guest judge comedienne Vicki Lawrence asked, “Hey Ru, what’s the difference between a drag queen and a transsexual?” when RuPaul laughingly replied “About twenty-five thousand dollars and a good surgeon.”
So, hearing how and what RuPaul is doing with her format just seals the deal! This is SO not right people! We cannot let this type of thing go unchecked. Because before you know it, someone like Jimmy Fallon will be telling tranny jokes in his opening monologue. When you get to such a huge platform like RuPaul’s or Anderson Cooper’s it is a little irresponsible to just let anything fall out of your mouth for a laugh.
As an African-American (who was raised Baptist) HIV+ gay man (who does drag), I have no place for putting anyone down. So, I choose not to use the word “nigger” even though today’s youth thinks it’s just a word to describe people “from da hood”. I choose not to discriminate against anyone because of their race, religion or sexual orientation even though most churches and groups like the Boy Scouts say it’s okay to do so. And I am most definitely not using the word “tranny” to describe anyone.
I am a female impersonator. Often on Facebook and other social networks, I get asked if I am a transsexual. I explain that I am not and there is a difference. I don’t know what it is like to feel like you were born in the wrong body. I enjoy being the man that I am, but I realize that everyone’s journey is completely different. I just wish that everyone could respect that fact.
Next time you go to say the word “tranny”, take a moment and think of it like the words “faggot” or “nigger”. Think about how these words hurt and destroy people’s lives.