A Shade Of Gray In The ‘A Drag Queen Is NOT A Transsexual’ Debate

RuPaul’s jacked up comments injected new life to this debate that has been ongoing in the over 15 years I’ve been part of the trans community about drag queens and the trans umbrella.

I am well aware of the fact that some major leaders and iconic ones in this community, some activism, historical events and legislative successes were jumped off by people who back in the day were labeled as drag queens or female impersonators and jumpstarted their feminine transitions by that route.

Far too many cis people confuse drag queens with actual transsexuals and the worst offenders of that are the GL peeps in our rainbow community. 

Yeah, that pisses transsexuals off at times, but then again it’s also a fact there are some transsexuals in our community historically and in our era who started off as drag performers before they had their gender epiphany and transitioned.


I wrote this comment in a June 2010 post in an attempt to clarify what the difference was:  

Drag queen, unless said drag queen is living 24/7/365 (366 in a leap year) as a woman, DOES NOT equal trans.

And I caught some flak for saying it, too.  But to me, that’s the major determinant and a straightforward measuring stick. 

Does the drag queen in question want to live their life as a woman forever?  Is that drag queen taking the steps necessary to live your feminine life away from the rainbow nightclub?.

If you are, welcome to the trans sisterhood.

I have always believed and have seen with my own eyes people sliding along the gender line segment in a masculine or feminine direction.  That movement is true in the drag, CD and ballroom communities as well..  

If you give today’s crossdresser, drag queen or ballroom femme realness queen some time to figure where they stand in their personal gender evolution, you may find out when you talk to them a few years later they have begun a full time gender transition or just came back from undergoing SRS.

Many drag queens only wear feminine attire when they perform on stage at a club and when the show is over they’re back to being men like RuPaul Andre Charles.  They have no intention of swallowing estrogen or living their lives as women because they love their male lives.  

But I’m aware of people who aren’t happy being male and used the drag, pageant and ballroom world experiences as a means to jump start their transitions, earn money at the same time to finance them, morph their bodies and hone their feminine personas. 

Using drag in that way also got their families used to seeing them as female when they may have had much more resistance to a regular gender transition.  

As they perfected their femininity under the guise of ‘it’s my job’ and swallowed hormones or underwent procedures to do precisely that, deep down they knew they were trans women. 

Some were even thinking ahead and prepping themselves for life when they retired from the stage, pageant or ballroom circuit. 

I know pageant girls who hold advanced college degrees or who are studying for post circuit careers in diverse fields.

So for me, if you ask me the question about whether a drag queen is a transsexual or not,  to that one I’m answering NO because there are major differences between a transwoman and a drag queen and consistent gender presentation and commitment to living in a feminine gender role is a major defining factor in being a  transwoman.    

But if you ask me whether they belong under the trans umbrella for political reasons,  I’ll say yes they do because they earned that spot for their previous and ongoing work on behalf of trans human rights along with us transwomen.

We also have to take into account people do evolve and change and it is possible for a transwoman to be a drag queen or start out as one and become a finer specimen of womanhood as well.

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