Category Archives: move

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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Privilege 101 ish

(I’m not entirely sure I’m qualified to talk about this, but I’ll give it a go.)

Privilege doesn’t often come up around people who have it, and when it does it’s generally knocked down with privilege denying and people not bothering to find out what the terms mean before getting offended by it. If you start looking into people who talk about privilege, then you’ll probably see words like “supremacist” and “oppressed” that push quite a few buttons and make people want to deny. But most of the words aren’t quite as harsh as the kyriarchy wants you to believe. So, what is privilege?

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To Parents

The point of this post is to make people think, so, please, only read it if you’re willing to think about it long and hard. This is a post that will upset some cis people. Maybe most. Maybe all. I suggest you read the advice on how not to be defensive when called out on transphobia before you go on if you haven’t already. Actually, just read it, it’s good advice. If you don’t think you have privilege for being cis, don’t think you could POSSIBLY be transphobic, feel that cis is offensive, or are simply unwilling to read this with an open mind- just don’t bother reading it. It’ll be a waste of your time.
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Trans 101

  1. You are a person. You are worthy of respect. You deserve to be treated with the same dignity as anyone else. There is nothing inherently wrong with your gender. You are not broken, you are not disgusting, you do not deserve to be hurt.
  2. You’ve been brought up and live in a world that’s designed to erase and demonize your existence, you’ve probably internalized a lot of that- and that’s not your fault. But it can be hard to deal with. But you aren’t alone in dealing with it. And sometimes you have to buy into it to be able to handle it (trigger warning: transphobic violence). And that’s okay.
  3. Your gender is no more or less than anyone else’s. Your history doesn’t make you “not really” or “less” your gender than someone with a cis history, it just makes you a person of your gender with a different history.
  4. You do not deserve to be held to higher standards than cis people. You do not have to “prove” your gender by forcing yourself into societal roles that may not fit. You are not “failing” anyone by fitting into societal roles that are comfortable. It is not your job to break down the binary/patriarchy/or anything else. If you want to, go for it, but you have no obligation to do anything for cis people just because you are trans.
  5. Being yourself does not hurt trans rights (so long as you aren’t trying to do so while stopping others from being who they are) and is not a reason why people don’t have to treat you with respect. There is nothing wrong with being a feminine man or masculine woman, or being a person who’s comfortable in their body, or being a person who doesn’t transition all the way, or being out about having a non-binary or genderqueer gender. You have not “failed” anyone by doing this, you are not “less” of your gender than someone else. Being who you are is not a valid argument for why people can’t treat you as who you truly are.
  6. No one else has the right to say your body needs to be changed. It only does if you need to change it. Or if you want to change it, that’s valid, too. Your body does not make you “less” your gender. It doesn’t make you “not really” your gender. It doesn’t mean you’re trapped in someone else’s body. You do not have to fix your body to “become” your gender- you already are your gender. All you need to do is what you need to do to be comfortable in your body. And if that includes reclaiming your right to label your own body, you are allowed to do that.
  7. You have just as much of a right to privacy as anyone else. You do not need to tell anyone about your body, your medical history, or anything else. Whether or not your body needs to be changed for you to be comfortable, you do not have to change it to deserve to be treated as who you are. You do not owe anyone intimate details about your personal life before you can be treated as who you are.
  8. You have no obligation to educate anyone. This includes trans people, but is most important with cis people. You are not a walking encyclopedia of transgender and/or transsexual information, you are a person. You do not have to answer every question any cis person comes up with, you do not have to represent trans people as a whole, (see 7) you do not have to bare the most personal and vulnerable parts of your soul to other people on demand.
  9. Not educating people does not “hurt” trans rights. NEVER let anyone try to guilt you into educating people or doing something you don’t want to do by insisting that doing otherwise will “destroy trans rights/acceptance/whatever”. Trying to force trans people to become walking information desks or to put themselves in dangerous situations regardless of whether or not you’re even up for dealing with this destroys trans rights and shows a great deal of intolerance. Asserting that you don’t have to tell anyone anything you don’t want to? That really doesn’t.
  10. If you do want to educate people, you are allowed to set limits and boundaries. You are allowed to say that you won’t talk about certain issues, or that you will only talk about them on your terms. You are allowed to decide which people you will talk to about which issues. You are allowed to change these boundaries if you become uncomfortable educating people you were previously willing to educate. You are not obligated to educate anyone just because you educated someone else.
  11. You deserve to take care of yourself- whatever that means. You deserve to be comfortable and safe. You deserve not to be in dangerous situations. If you can’t handle something alone, you deserve to ask for- and get- help or, if you can, take a break from it until you can handle it. Or just stop doing it all together, that’s okay. Taking care of yourself does not make you weak, it does not make you an attention-grabber or overdramatic, it does not make you “less” your gender, it does not mean you betray other trans people by not being a full-time (or even part-time) activist. You’re human, you have limits, and that’s okay.
  12. You deserve to have your boundaries respected. Any boundaries- how and where people can touch you, what information you give to who and when, what places you feel comfortable going or who you feel comfortable going with, what people can tell others about you.
  13. You deserve to have the words you are and aren’t comfortable being referred to as respected. You deserve to have the proper pronouns used (and, if there are times when it’s unsafe for that to happen, you deserve to have your safety maintained by those around you), you deserve to be called the proper name, you deserve to have the words you want used to describe your body used, you deserve not to be called by any label, pronoun, word, or name that you don’t want to be called.
  14. If you’re asking for something that you need to feel respected, comfortable, and safe- you are not asking for too much. Your identity is not “too complicated”. Your needs are not less important than anyone elses’.
  15. You are a person. You are worthy of respect. You deserve to be treated with the same dignity as anyone else. There is nothing inherently wrong with your gender. You are not broken, you are not disgusting, you do not deserve to be hurt.


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