Drag queens banned, sort of: Intolerance within transgender community

Drag queen at the 2012 Rome Gay Pride. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Drag queen at the 2012 Rome Gay Pride. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Intolerance within the transgender community?

That’s what some people are saying this week after the trans organizers of Free Pride Glasgow event  — an ‘anti-commercialist’ alternative to Glasgow’s main Pride event — decided to ban drag queens from the celebration. Then, after a social media outcry, they backtracked somewhat and decided to allow “trans drag performers,” The San Diego Gay and Lesbian News is reporting in an update to this ongoing saga.

Such tangled webs this group is weaving . . .

The reason first cited for banning all drag performers: the trans organizers felt drag performers “diminish the self-respect and integrity of the trans community,” reports the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News in its first report on all of this.

The event’s committee’s first statement on the issue included this: “The decision was taken by transgender individuals who were uncomfortable with having drag performances at the event. It was felt that it would make some of those who were transgender or questioning their gender uncomfortable. It was felt by the group within the Trans/Non Binary Caucus that some drag performance, particularly cis drag, hinges on the social view of gender and making it into a joke, however transgender individuals do not feel as though their gender identity is a joke.”

The updated statement from Free Pride Glasgow includes this: “We did not mean to send this message and apologise to trans drag performers for unintentionally doing so. Unfortunately this also appears to have offended trans drag performers. We did not in any way mean to equate cis (who are often seen as transmisogynistic by some portions of the Trans community) drag performers with trans drag performers.”

In other words, trans drag people are OK, gay or straight drag performers are not okay?

Hmm. You gotta think that the Free Pride Glasgow event is on a fast track to extinction.

Drag queens and kings have made important contributions to the evolution of the LGBT movement, and to trans people in particular. They paved the way for trans people. They are part of the LGBTQ community.

So, what damage is this doing to the reputation of transgender people in general? Will the general public realize that this is discrimination within the transgender community as opposed to by the whole transgender community? Will people make that distinction?

Well, consider the Zoey Tur/Ben Shapiro dust-up last week, and how the right-wingers in the United States have seized on it to claim the transgender community is intolerant.

Undoubtedly, there are some intolerant and exclusionary individuals within the collective body of transgender people around the world, but I’d like to think the majority of trans people are inclusive and will welcome drag queens and kings to their local Pride events.

— Jillian Page, LGBT Perspectives editor

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“Let harmlessness be the keynote of your life.” — Alice Bailey

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16 thoughts on “Drag queens banned, sort of: Intolerance within transgender community”

      1. Stunningly beautiful, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains…

        …Asheville is a *wonderful* place to transition, though I would be a couple years into my transition before I realized this back around 2010. While we have our share of difficult people (aka “haters”), this place is safe enough that I went through six years of gradually and gently moving through androgyny largely without issue. It is safe enough that many in our community think nothing of being “out” and discussing things trans in public. It’s a very musical, artsy, crafty, eclectic area, and those who are genderqueer and/or transitioning actually find that they look like “local color.”

        Yvonne Cook-Riley (an elder transwoman, who put the T in LGBT) estimates that there are about five thousand transsexual and genderqueer people living in the Asheville area (this is NOT counting the drag and crossdressing communities). We have an active queer community, and LGB and T relations seem reasonably good (at least from what I’ve experienced personally).

        There are seven trans support groups of which I am aware, including the southeast’s oldest continuously running group: Phoenix TGS. Then there is Western North Carolina Community Health Services that spearheads our healthcare. It is possible to have basic transgender care including hormones even if you cannot pay. We also have one of the few Planned Parenthood offices that do hormone replacement for our community. MAHEC is another medical group that is looking toward handling hormone therapy for trans folk (I’ve been their “pet tranny” for years, and I’m trying to encourage positive change for us). There are a number of therapists here as well. Pisgah Urology is providing gynos for the guys and orchidectomies for us gals (I had mine there recently).

        There are a number of open and affirming churches here as well, but there are also plenty of religious folks who have difficulties with us (something I’m trying to help change in my little way).

        All of my interactions with law enforcement and emergency personnel have been positive. For years of my transition, I was quite obviously trans, and I never had an issue. Since my spouse has often been carted to the hospital by EMS, they know us well. Well, LOTS of people in town know I’m trans, but I’m virtually always treated like any other woman. I was able to change my name here in Asheville, but it was a difficult $300+ process requiring almost three months. Changing my name and gender marker with the Social Security people was duck soup. But most surprising was that the DMV allowed me to change my name and gender marker with my “passport” letter, written by my WNCCHS doctor. HOWEVER, Yvonne notes that trans folks are still stick into jail cells by the appearance of their genitalia {sigh}.

        Of relief groups, there is sadly only one: Be Loved House, and they are small, but scrappy and fearlessly-caring of queer folk – ONE indication of their success is that shelters like the Salvation Army bad-mouth them (whilst denying help to trans folk in need). There is an informal “underground railroad” of individuals and families who are lending their couches to trans folk in need and we are trying to expand our numbers.

        The big downside here is work: it’s difficult to find decent paying work here. There is a lot of money here, but it’s money from outside. There’s not much in the way of industry, and the Mission Hospital seems to be one of the main employers. In my case, I’m working remotely with a company outside this area, but for most others, they are tied to service-oriented jobs. So the typical transgender struggle for income is very much alive here.

        One other thing I would say: there are some gals in our community who are stunning in their gender expression, and yet they are treated badly by some of the very people and institutions I have always been blessed by. I feel like these people have “passing privilege” and yet there is something about their attitudes that reveals them as trans, and in an unpleasant way. I am a plain woman, who happens to be transgender, and for nearly everyone, I’m apparently just a woman, kindly, pleasantly peculiar, and the face that I am transgender is “ho hum, oh? really? okay.” The difference seems to be in our attitudes. I’m not a victim, and I *joyfully* own my gender and I’m not ashamed of being transgender (part of my feminine mystique??) either. People say that I am “at ease” with myself, and that helps them be at ease with me. I’m saying all that just to suggest that whatever your limitations and struggles (I’ve got plenty of both), with a positive attitude, everything is *so much easier*.

        Blessings & Joy!!

        Renee

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        1. Wow! Would you like to turn this into a First Profile profile report for this blog, because it will get lost here in the reader comments? We’re always looking for First person articles (hint, hint). I don’t think you would need to do much rejigging . . . I can find some artwork to accompany it. Just email the final version to lgbtperspectives@gmail.com

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        2. I still don’t think Yvonne receives enough recognition and the respect she deserves. SMH. BTW, this ugly duckling has felt hurt more than a few times when a close LG friend or two has cracked on Yvonne. How small. Jill Weiss, who’s become more prominent recently representing trans litigants, wrote about Yvonne a few years back, worth a read : http://www.bilerico.com/2011/08/yvonne_cook_riley_the_invention_of_transgender.php

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  1. “In other words, trans drag people are OK, gay or straight drag performers are not okay?”
    I’m Stonewall Era NYC. Back then I can’t recall folks making such fine, subtle distinctions. Maybe it’s mostly a “generational thing” for me, but I was offended by Glasgow Pride’s politically-correct, spineless exclusionary policy.

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  2. This is really a conundrum. I can empathize with both side, and I have cringed inside when a fellow trans person has done something really outrageous that I feel reflects on me and my deadly serious transition. At the same time, I steel myself to this, realizing that they have the right to be their own person, and I need to just put-on my big-girl-panties and deal with it gracefully. Therefore, I make it a point to publicly associate with my trans friends (and others) whether they appear trans or not, whether they are “over the top” or “discrete.” AND when I am with my “discrete” trans friends, I am careful about my own words and behavior, lest I put them into a difficult position…

    …Maybe the best way to deal with a situation where there are conflicting views and expressions is for everyone to try to think of others before they speak and act. It what we should have learned as kids, but I know that I’m still growing in this as adult. I suppose if change is going to happen, then I have to be willing to be the one to change, even at the risk that others will not, or will even disrupt my change…

    …Life isn’t easy.

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