On RuPaul and Trans Drag

I’m resurrecting this blog for a moment, to comment on the latest RuPaul Drama.

When I was 16, I asked my dad to buy me a binder.

A few months later, I came out as trans. (because screw order)

A few months after that, I bought my first corset and a skirt and put together a drag costume. The year I came out, I went to a comic convention in full drag.

I bound my breasts so I could feel comfortable wearing falsies. I strapped a fake dick between my legs so I could feel comfortable wearing a skirt. I slathered on makeup to hide my real face so I could feel comfortable wearing lipstick and eyeshadow.

The first time I ever used the men’s room, I was in drag.

At that comic convention, in a corset and skirt and kick-ass boots, I proudly walked into the men’s room with the other freaks and no one batted an eye.

The next fall, I performed. There was a local, charity drag show that my friends told me about and offered to go with me to. I got up and sang the only song I knew I could lip sync to by heart: “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor. At the time I didn’t even know that this was a drag anthem. Nearly a decade earlier, when I strutted in my bedroom choreographing dances to RuPaul’s “Supermodel”, I didn’t even realize what drag was. Somehow, drag was in my blood.

I got more tips than anyone that night. (For charity!)

I loved it. I was fantastic at it.

I gave it up out of fear.

I was already in a very vulnerable, raw, and insecure place. Coming out as trans is hard, and there were far fewer resources a decade ago. I was screwed over by the local gender therapist and had to fight just to get access to the life saving resources I desperately needed. It took 3 years for me to finally get top surgery. 3 years of barely being able to leave the house due to crippling dysphoria. 3 years of binding that ended up doing nerve damage.

At that time, the thought of trying to enter the drag community was terrifying. Maybe I would have been accepted, I’d like to think that, I sure as hell could have used a drag mother to teach me self-confidence and how to talk back, but the risk of rejection was too much. It would have killed me. That is not an exaggeration. I didn’t look like a drag queen was supposed to, and I couldn’t bring myself to take that risk.

This all happened before RuPaul’s Drag Race ever aired.

I didn’t find out about Drag Race until season 3 or so (apparently I live under a rock). Watching it was wonderful, it feels like being at home. Some of the wisdom Ru shared with her queens has made a very real, major impact on my life.

I would often fantasize about being on Drag Race. Wonder if I could have gotten on or won if I’d stuck with drag.

It hurts like hell to find out that the answer is “No”.

And not because I lacked the Charisma, or the Uniqueness, or the Nerve, or the Talent. (fun fact: Took me 4 years to realize what the acronym for that was!)

Solely because of my body.

It hurt like hell to hear my idol, a person I deeply respect, who has made a huge impact on me, has validated one of my deepest fears:

I don’t look like a drag queen, so I would never have truly been accepted.

 

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