’Drag Race’ Officials Change Format Over Transphobia Allegations

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Monday Apr 14, 2014

Officials from the popular reality show "RuPaul's Drag Race" responded to criticisms by fans and activists, who say the show used transphobic language during a mini-challenge.

Over the last few weeks, "Drag Race" has come under fire after for a recent episode where the drag queens competed in a mini-challenge called "Female or She-Male." Contestants looked at pictures of celebrities and had to guess if they were a "biological" woman or a "psychological" woman by holding up a sign that either read "Female" or "She-Male."

After the first wave of criticism came last month, host and creator RuPaul and other officials from "Drag Race," currently in its sixth season on Logo, responded to the allegations of anti-trans langue in a statement.

"We delight in celebrating every color in the LGBT rainbow," RuPaul Charles, Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, Tom Campbell, Steven Corfe and Mandy Salangsang said in a joint statement last month. "When it comes to the movement of our trans sisters and trans brothers, we are newly sensitized and more committed than ever to help spread love, acceptance and understanding."

The officials of the reality show and Logo TV released another statement this week to the Huffington Post regarding the use of transphoic language and about making a significant change to their programming.

The statement reads:

"We wanted to thank the community for sharing their concerns around a recent segment and the use of the term 'she-mail' on 'Drag Race.'

Logo has pulled the episode from all of our platforms and that challenge will not appear again.

Furthermore, we are removing the 'You've got she-mail' intro from new episodes of the series.

We did not intend to cause any offense, but in retrospect we realize that it was insensitive. We sincerely apologize."

Earlier this month two former "Drag Race" contestants who are trans came forward to talk about the allegations of transphobia.

Season three star Carmen Carrera took to Facebook and wrote:

"I am certain ’RuPaul’s Drag Race’ didn’t mean to be offensive, let this be a learning experience. I think the show has opened up and educated the minds of many people who were ignorant to the world of drag and has made equality and respect a possibility for those involved, not only as equal beings, but as phenomenal artists. There has always been a huge presence of trans artists in the drag scene. ’Shemale’ is an incredibly offensive term, and this whole business about if you can tell whether a woman is biological or not is getting kind of old. We live in a new world where understanding and acceptance are on the rise. ’Drag Race’ should be a little smarter about the terms they use and comprehend the fight for respect trans people are facing every minute of today. They should use their platform to educate their viewers truthfully on all facets of drag performance art. ?#?SheHasSpoken?"

HuffPo spoke with Monica Beverly Hillz, who came out as trans on season five, who said:

"After my experience of being on the show, I would say that, to me, the use of the words ’she-male,’ ’ladyboy’ and ’tranny’ are not cute at all," she said. "I have fought, and still am fighting, for respect from society -- to be accepted as a woman and not referred to as a ’tranny’ or "’she-male.’"

She added:

"People don’t understand the daily struggle it is to be a transgender woman. Some days are great and some days I can’t be around anyone because I have so much anxiety, so much on my mind and just feel alone in this world.

After being on TV and coming out, it is very difficult to live a normal life. So when you see a show that you look up to and have been a part of, it kind of sucks hearing them use those words.

I will say that RuPaul and the entire cast and production team were amazing. To this day they still check up on me, so for that I am forever grateful.

However, maybe some things need to be changed about the show, because it’s not just a drag show anymore. We have beautiful transgender cast mates paving the way for all transgender showgirls."

Watch the "you’ve got she-mail" clip below:


  • patroy, 2014-04-15 18:31:58

    As a gay man, yes, I have experienced homophobia and been assaulted. However, I dealt with it and moved on. This Country is way to sensitive about "WORDS"!! Sticks and stones, blah, blah blah....... Get over yourselves!!!!!

  • , 2014-04-15 23:00:24

    Are you kidding me? Political correctness is ruining our balance of free speech/press. What is the point of a well rounded LGBTQ presence if we can’t show a little humor? Blowhards need to get over it and focus on the greater goal of LGBTQ related laws, protections, and rights.

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