Drag queens are incredibly fun in nearly any situation, from bars to parades to television shows. The transformation from men to women is truly unique and mesmerizing, and watching their new personas brings life to any party. While most view these fabulous queens as strictly men, there is a fascinating and underrepresented mix of other genders that are performers. In this case, they tend to be women, either cis or trans. Typically called faux, bio, or hyper queens, they are quite rare and difficult to find. This is also an incredibly controversial group, being stripped of these professions based solely on their womanhood. Despite any debates, it is inherently misogynistic and sexist to deny their personas, acts, and livings as drag queens.
“Can’t women let gay men have anything for themselves?” asked an anonymous poster on a long deleted Reddit forum. They were referring to bio queens in specific, but several replied to include transwomen. In the LGBTQ community, drag is a phenomenal way to express an inner self to the fullest, take a stand against gender roles, or show off the diva inside. The societal gender expectations have largely remained the same, and these performances allow anyone, of all sexualities, to take a deeper look at the problems this represents, to reflect, and hopefully laugh at the idiocy of it with the intent to break down these limitations. Some may claim it is a form of cultural appropriation, as Reddit user Eleanor-Hoesevelt stating that “the elements of drag, once removed from the art of male to female illusion lose their original nuances and significance”. But where, if this is cultural appropriation, did the typical drag look/style come from? They came from the expectations of women. Without women, there would be absolutely nothing to base this feminine style of drag on. Without women, drag would not exist.
The stereotypical idea of a drag queen has also unfortunately become another part of these gender roles with the exclusion of women. While it is true that gay men, alongside the other members of the LGBTQ community, absolutely do need their own queer spaces, it cannot be by denying others the right or the ability to play with gender expectations. Trans queen Peppermint, writes that “gay men do not own the idea of gender perfomance”. Just as it is a common misconception that all gay men are “feminine”, it is false that all women act “feminine”, at least in societal expectations. For some women, being a drag queen allows for a safe exploration and presentation of a hyper feminine persona, just the same as for men. Even if a woman is already considered to be quite femme by societal expectations, drag has always been and will always be about bending gender rules and having fun. On the opposite side, androgynous/masculine drag performers also toy with what is expected of people. In short, the concept of drag does not discriminate between the gender identity of someone, but rather what they offer to play around with it.
Curiously, the “off-beat” drag performers tend to generally be accepting of faux queens. During the season two reunion of The Boulet Brothers’ “Dragula”, the topic of women as drag queens came up and was nearly unanimously deemed to be acceptable. It was the consensus as above: drag is for fun and breaking down societal expectations. In their casting call for season three, they made it a specific note of their inclusivity, writing that “the audition is open to all drag artists regardless of gender, sexuality or form of drag expression”. As their reputation as drag “supermonsters”, they encourage all forms of drag, even extending these opportunities to promote straight performers, including the heteroflexible season two contestant Disasterina.
Top row, left to right: Abhora, Felony Dodger, Dahli, Victoria Elizabeth Black, Swanthula, Dracmorda, Erika Klash, James Majesty, Kendra Onixxx, Disasterina
Bottom row, left to right: Monikkie Shame, Biqtch Pudding
It’s not just the “uglies” who are encouraging people from all walks of life into genderbending fun. After RuPaul made a statement that he probably wouldn’t allow a post-transition transwoman on “Drag Race”, discussions of transphobia and misogyny in the drag community erupted, evoking conversations of how drag and gay rights even came to be: in the Stonewall riots. It is crucial to remember that it was transwomen and drag queens of colour who threw the first bricks. Without people like Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who both identified as transwomen/with complex genders and drag queens, the drag and LGBTQ community would suffer greatly. These queens identified largely as women, and refuse their drag would be inaccurate, disrespectful, and dismissive of gay culture, pride, and history. Even Willam Belli, a disqualified contestant of “Drag Race” who is known for casual transphobia, stated that “we work with trans women every night side by side, and for them to be denied the opportunities because of someone’s narrow-minded view on what they call ‘drag’ is f****d’”. Oddly enough, RuPaul is still the same person to announce that “we’re all born naked and the rest is drag”, a bizarre and contradictory viewpoint to his prior statements.
Marsha Johnson and Sylvia Rivera (The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson)
It is perhaps Redditor’s Khoeth_Mora who sums things up about those who are against faux queens the best: “Your obsession with what’s between someone’s legs is silly. It reminds me of an old straight guy being upset that Drag Queens do what they do. Live and let live, it’s not up to you how someone enjoys life”.
In the end, drag should and could be an inclusive environment, born from a rich and diverse background. Where judgment currently resides, there lies opportunity to bring down societal roles and work for a better future. Ultimately, drag is an expression of self and about breaking taboos and social norms, and shouldn’t be defined by genitalia or gender identity.