YOUR IDENTITY MAY BE TRANSGRESSIVE
In their media reference guide, GLAAD [Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation] lists “offensive terms to avoid” that include homosexual, gay
lifestyle and transvestite. Their glossary of defamatory terms (“these words only serve to dehumanise gay and transgender people and should not be used”) includes fag, faggot, dyke, homo, sodomite, she
male, tranny, it, shim and gender-bender. But what about those within the community who use these words to selfidentify, or do not find them dehumanising or offensive when used in cultural context? RuPaul’s drag queen reality program has often used the term “tranny” and when the controversy surrounding its use of “she-mail” first erupted, GLAAD’s VP of communications, Rich Ferraro, wrote, “While some drag queens may use the term to refer to themselves, ‘she-male’ is too often used by others as an offensive term to denigrate and hypersexualise transgender women. Unfortunately, most Americans are still unaware that there is a difference between gay men who perform in drag and transgender women.”
After expunging the term from future episodes, the producers of RuPaul’s Drag
Race released a joint statement that read, “We delight in celebrating every color in the LGBT rainbow. When it comes to the movement of our trans sisters and trans brothers, we are newly sensitised and more committed than ever to help spread love, acceptance and understanding.”
Rupaul, who has been accused of transphobia alongside other LGBT allies including, recently, Ellen Degeneres and Jared Leto, has not issued a formal apology. Shortly after the network pulled the offending pun from the air, he had this to say on Twitter: “Orwell’s book ANIMAL FARM: The rebels eventually forgot the purpose of the revolution #LibraryIsOpen.” -– Jesse Archer
Contestants from Season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race play a controversial, now censored mini-challenge.