Drag performers might be offending the trans community
With all of the inspiration and history making legislature that has leaned in their favor this year, transgender men and women may have to question the intentions of individuals within their own community, especially straight men who dress in drag.
Men and women entertainers who don cross-gender clothing and create make-up effects to make them appear as the opposite sex may come across as mocking or offensive of people who are struggling with real gender identity issues.
Recently in Scotland, the Free Pride Glasgow event has banned drag performers from the celebration because they feel it diminishes the self-respect and integrity of the trans community.
Free Pride Glasgow is a less commercial alternative to the annual Pride Glasgow which incorporates all LGBT men and women.
PinkNews, a European LGBT publication, reports that the Free Pride Glasgow committee came to the decision to not include drag performers in its celebration because they feel that some acts are purposefully contemptuous.
In a statement released by the committee, they explain their resolution:
“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.
“This can particularly difficult for those who are not out and still present as the gender they were assigned at birth. While it was discussed whether we could have trans drag acts perform, it was agreed that as it would not be appropriate to ask any prospective drag acts whether or not they identified as trans.
“It was therefore decided that having no drag acts perform would be the best option as it would mean no-one would feel pressured to out themselves.”
But, these sentiments do not sit well with organizers of Pride Glasgow. They respond to the statements made by the Free Pride group:
“We can understand the actions behind Free Pride over the banning of Drag Performers but believe this to action to wrong and going against what an inclusive event should be about.
“As an organisation Pride Glasgow had a similar discussion back in 2010 over how Drag could cause discomfort to people however we took the decision that Drag Queens and Kings play an important part in the history of the Pride movement and should be included within the event, so we used our Pride Guide to address these concerns by having a statement from Crosslynx (a Trans support organisation at the time) explaining that not everyone people would see in Drag at Pride would be Trans or represent the trans community.
“Pride Glasgow believes that any community group should be given their place to flourish but that success should not be built on the negativity and ignorance towards other events, groups and like minded people and we are saddened to see that this is the direction that Free Pride has chosen to take.”
Recently the National Union of Students , in a written motion, made it clear that they would not allow men to cross-dress at their student union events. “Fancy dress’ is a term that describes straight men who dress in women’s clothing who are not transgender.
In what seems contrary to the “zero-tolerance” policy, the NUS said that drag as a form of expression of exploration of LGBT identity is encouraged, but the motion does not specify how this is distinguished from drag or “fancy dress.”
Given that not all drag performers are gay, the points that Free Pride Glasgow and the NUS seem to be making, are that being transgender is not a joke and shouldn’t be portrayed that way for fear that it demoralizes a whole group of people who are already struggling with identity issues.
Read the Free Pride Drag performance policy HERE
Timothy Rawles is Community Editor of SDGLN. He can be reached at [email protected], @reporter66 on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713.