Verdict on RuPaul: Trans? Yes. Trans Role Model? No.

RuPaulLEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS — The unifying singularity for all people under the transgender umbrella is the high risk factor for being a victim of transgender hate violence, especially the kind that results in our deaths. Those that perpetuates hate violence against us do not split hairs between a cisperson dressed in drag like RuPaul or a 39 years post-op transsexual like Renee Richards. To perpetrators of trans violence, we’re all one and the same.

In addition, we shouldn’t dare start differentiating amongst ourselves of what constitutes a “real” transgender person because once we start doing this, the rest of society will follow suit. Currently, trans protection laws apply to ALL transgender people, period. How would you feel about a judge splitting hairs over whether you were “not trans enough” or “too-cis” for a trans equality/protection law to apply to you? This alone is reason enough to end the family squabble.

As for the other item on the table, no, RuPaul is not trans role model. While he is allowed to give his two cents on trans matters, let’s make sure the media also hears from the rest of us. I’m not so big on silencing anyone under the transgender umbrella because it can easily be turned around and used against any one of us. Lets instead stick with education and make it difficult for all the RuPauls in our society to make income off offensive terms.

As a side note, we ought to also remember erasing offensive words from popular usage is often problematic — terms such as “ladyboys” or even “transvestite” are offensive to some, but in certain cultures and communities these deeply rooted terms are anything but. Once you go down that road, it has to be eradicated equally.


For those of you that follow this space, this article fixes a contradiction of some sort that has existed since a previous article about RuPaul. You can read it here:



You, too, can have your heart tugged by Lexie Cannes — an award-winning feature film about a transgender woman. Get it here:   

LEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS is associated with Wipe Out Transphobia:

Read Lexie Cannes in The Huffington Post:

Categories: Transgender, Transsexual, Trans, Transphobia, exploitation, dehumanizing, violence, hate

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12 replies

  1. does this mean that masculine presenting lesbians/women and effeminate presenting men/gays are also transgender? They too are the victims of violence over their presentation! Look you, even the most outwardly heteronormative gay person can be on the receiving end of violence directed against them because they break society’s gender norms (in their case being attracted to persons of the same gender) – that would mean ALL LGBT people come under the trans umbrella! What utter bullshit – that would mean the “gender” in transgender fluctuated according who it was applied to – sexuality for the blending gays, presentation for the effeminate males, masculine women, and drag artists, and identity for the transgender – but wait the ones with no identity conflict are trans – that means it’s the identity people who’re not really Trans! Don’t be bloody silly! All this is is an attempt to marginalise us within our own community!

  2. I respectfully disagree with the the verbiage of the graphic. Drag is performance art, rather than an expression of gender. The danger in considering it otherwise is that it allows the general public to perceive transgender as a matter of choice.

    • So, do we stop adding drag queens to the TDOR list? This has already happened.

      • If they did not identify as transgender in life, yes. If they did, they should be included. If someone engaged in performance art, but otherwise lived and identified as cisgender, why would they be considered transgender?

        • We cannot always know what a person identifies as upon the discovery of dead victim, but we can usually tell if the death was gender identity related. Case in point: last year or two years ago a person was murdered wearing female clothes even though he had a male name and rarely dressed as female. He was added to the TDOR list. However under your criteria, he would not be. In addition the murderer would not be charged with a hate crime, even though he was likely killed for wearing female attire. In addition who is to decide a person’s status? Me? You? The police? The victim’s family? Let’s keep that Pandora’s Box closed by including EVERYONE under the trans umbrella — not just those that meet the approval of some. Thanks for your comments.

  3. I agree with the previous posters. Drag is an exaggerated expression of gender for the sake of entertainment. Some trans men and women preform as drag queens or kings and some do not. As far as I know RuPaul identifies as a male out of drag. He uses masculine pronouns. Suggesting he’s trans while in drag is like suggesting that any actress who plays peter pan is trans during the performance. This graphic, and the title of this essay have the potential to spread dangerous and ridiculous misinformation. Please remove the graphic and retitle the essay for safety of trans people everywhere.

  4. Doesn’t matter how a drag queen identifies themselves rather dressing in drag is a lifestyle or just a performance costume. How do drag queens live when the show is over, as men or as women, even they identify their gender as male. I guess it depends upon how broadly the word transgender is defined legally because it is the legal definition of the word transgender that has standing in the courts. It also depends upon how the medical community defines transgender in their official publications, and how the insurance community defines the word transgender in providing or denying medical coverage for transgenders. Members of the transgender community need to influence the definition in such a manner that it is inclusive of every member who identifies as transgender or the legal community, or medical community, or insurance company will find loopholes to deny members of our community their legal rights under the laws, medical services, insurance coverages, and other services. The larger our community the more political power we have and the more wealth we have in our community. There are large numbers of individuals in the United States and the rest of the world that are working to see that we, trans individuals do not have any rights at all, even the right to life. The fact is that every single person’s civil rights should be protected and that no person should be denied their rights because of whom they are. Who we are should not be criminalized and our personal style of presentation. Behavior is criminalized, such as murdering, stealing, etc. Nobody has the right to present themselves in such away that is physically harmful to another human being. We cannot criminalize dress or behavior just because it offends somebody, we criminalize dress and behavior when it denies others their civil rights, is physically harmful in some way, denies others their rights to property, and safety. Some gender expression may offend some people, but gender expression should never be criminalized because it is not harmful in any way nor does it deny anyone their civil rights, and gender expression is covered under our right to free speech which has covered various form of expression.

    So as I see it depends upon rather the individual drag queen considers themselves a part of the trans community and rather being a drag queen is a lifestyle or dressing in drag is just a costume which as discarded after the show is over. Is being a drag queen just a job or profession or is it a lifestyle, only each individual knows.

  5. Anyone who supports our rights as trans* deserves to have it acknowledged. I don’t know if RuPaul actively supports us or not ( because I’m UK so… ) but if he does, then he’s more than welcome to sit at my table, but the onus is on him to prove it.
    My experience of celebrity discrimination is limited to objecting to Trevor Ashley hijacking the word Tranny for commercial gain in his show at the Sydney Opera House, but the same rules apply: if you trash our rights for a quick buck then watch out.

  6. No. This article is flat out wrong. Ru Paul does not identify as transgender, he identifies as a cis gay man. He is not transgender, and saying that he is is not only misidentifying him and his gender identity, but it’s conflating the fact that “man wearing a dress” == “transgender”.

    • It doesn’t really matter what RuPaul says in this case, a drag queen is transgender when in drag. If killed because of what they are, then they’re added to the TDOR list.

      Thanks for the comments.

  7. You know, the heart of this article is correct. It’s a concept I’m not hearing much of. Many of the folks in my trans support group acknowledge that drag performer and crossdressers do qualify under the trans umbrella even if they identify as cisgender. An attacker doesn’t make the distinction and neither should we.

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