not in Primary anymore

drag: a trans feminist perspective

Jesus Genderfucking Christ, so many things I can say about drag being both trans empowering and transmisogynistic/cissexist. Usually, when folks are praising drag, I try to point out the problematic aspects of it. And when they’re attacking drag, I try to point out the awesome aspects of it. Not to be contrarian but to help people recognize how complicated this discussion is.

 
BAD THINGS:

 

  1. In drag queen shows, there really are sometimes cis men up there on stage making jokes about the trans feminine experience. As if trying to hide the bulge in your dress is the funniest thing ever. (I mean, joking about your own dysphoria is one thing, but joking about somebody else’s? Yeah. Problematic).

 

  1. Certain queens purposefully make fun of women with their performances. They create personas that resemble (and thus perpetuate) misogynistic stereotypes.

 

  1. It’s common for pageant queens around the world to criticize other queens for not being feminine enough, thus in some ways, policing femininity, which, yeah, I think is pretty closely tied to misogyny (and completely defeats the potential power of drag). I have a friend who was heavily criticized in a pageant for not wearing “enough padding,” even though they stopped wearing padding after their grandmother got breast cancer in solidarity with her.

Drag pageants, especially drag pageants like Ms. Gay America that prohibit anybody who is taking hormones and makes it very clear that they are looking for cis men who will dress up like caricatures of women on stage–these sorts of pageants are just the same gender essentialist bullshit we find at church, just this time dressed in rhinestones.

 

  1. Outside gender probs is the fact that drag in many areas has a tendency to participate in shameless racism and cultural appropriation with costumes and speech

 

GOOD THINGS:

 

  1. Trans women, trans men, and non-binary folks have a long history of starting their gender experimentation with drag. Trans liberation activist Sylvia Rivera and other members of the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries identified as drag queens. Even in recent history, we have a few RuPaul queens that have come out as trans women. (And the most recent winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race coming out as genderqueer). 

 

  1. Femme queer men and butch queer women who are often discriminated against in both straight and queer communities have expressed empowerment through drag, a reclaiming of their own femininity and/or masculinity.

 

  1. Drag troupes since the sixties have raised money for LGBT causes, (Not just LGB–I’m including the T in here for a reason). 

 

  1. A lot of genderfuck drag out there helps people reconsider gender.  As one genderqueer person told me describing their experience with drag: “Drag is your gender on fire.” Successful drag performances in my book are witty, passionate, in your face, politically charged commentaries on culture, sexuality, gender, and identity.

 

Suggested links:

More points to consider on transmisogyny and drag

 

Julia Seranto’s feels on drag in trans culture

 

An article on the conflict between trans women and drag queens in modern times

 

Gender Outlaw Kate Bornstein on how drag queens helped her come out. (Ze reclaims the t-slur as an endearing term between cis drag queens and trans drag queens in Australia)

 

Quotes on how drag (and leather) in San Francisco in 1970 was an important part of coming out for gay men

 

The experience of a female drag queen, sometimes called faux queens or bio queens.

 

Check out some really awesome drag kings here 

 

Suggested Videos:

 

 

 

 

 

Suggested Films:

Paris is Burning is a great documentary about the Harlem Ball Scene where black gay men and trans women found empowerment through dancing and costume competitions that would influence drag greatly in the modern day.

Venus Boyz is a documentary that explores the roles drag kings play in lesbian and trans masculine culture.

Gendernauts is a documentary that explores the genderqueer movement in the nineties and shows genderfuck drag performers and their role in queer nightlife.

 

Are there other links, videos, or films that you think should be suggested for those interested in this topic? If so, share them below!

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9 Responses to “drag: a trans feminist perspective”

  1. Jess

    Um….what’s the story behind the “One Hit” Klaus video? I am intrigued…

    Reply
  2. winifred

    Starts off taking Christ’s name in vain. Is it any wonder the church does not take feminists seriously?

    Reply
    • False Prophet

      Is it any wonder that feminists gave up caring about the church a long time ago? If using Jesus’ name in vain is the worst thing in this article to you, you need to work out your priorities mate.

      Reply
    • meli

      Genderfuck is a holy act to me. It’s attempting to tear down the oppressive systems of gender that we live with, destroying this binary Babylon, and freeing the human soul to discover its full potential, helping each person find what works best for them and respecting that as long as it harms no one, creating a New, more loving and more empowering Zion.

      To imply that Jesus may have participated in genderfuck is an act of praise for me, not vanity.

      Reply
  3. Loran Blood

    Bombastic, vile profanity, madness, mental illness, inconceivable human debasement and dehumanization, and critical frontal lobe damage, all in one post.

    The Young Mormon Feminists will fall for and, having fallen, publish literally anything, and the more shocking, grotesque, and almost inhumanly perverse, the better.

    Reply

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