RuPaul has issued an apology for controversial statements he made about members of the transgender community.
“Each morning I pray to set aside everything I THINK I know, so I may have an open mind and a new experience,” the two-time Emmy-winning host of RuPaul’s Drag Race tweeted Monday, two days after the The Guardian published an interview with the LGBT icon in which he indicated he likely wouldn’t allow a post-operative transwoman to join the show’s cast. “I understand and regret the hurt I have caused. The trans community are heroes of our shared LGBTQ movement. You are my teachers.”
Further addressing the quotes he gave to the publication, Ru followed up with another message shortly thereafter: “In the 10 years we’ve been casting Drag Race, the only thing we’ve ever screened for is charisma uniqueness nerve and talent,” he wrote. “And that will never change.”
RuPaul’s Drag Race has featured several transgender contestants in the past — including Carmen Carrera, Sonique, Jiggly Caliente, and Gia Gunn — though all competed before fully transitioning, announcing their identity as transwomen after their respective seasons aired. Season 9’s Peppermint and season 5’s Monica Beverly Hillz are the only people who’ve competed on Drag Race as openly transgender women. Both came out during their time on the show.
“Mmmm. It’s an interesting area. Peppermint didn’t get breast implants until after she left our show; she was identifying as a woman, but she hadn’t really transitioned,” Ru said during the Guardian interview. When asked if he would let a transwoman who’d completed her transition compete on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Ru replied: “Probably not. You can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body. It takes on a different thing; it changes the whole concept of what we’re doing. We’ve had some girls who’ve had some injections in the face and maybe a little bit in the butt here and there, but they haven’t transitioned.”
“I don’t like to call drag ‘wearing women’s clothes,’” Ru said earlier in the interview, also discussing the “dichotomy of the trans movement versus the drag movement” while championing the merits of both when it comes to expanding the boundaries of gender expression. “Women don’t really dress like [drag queens]. We are wearing clothes that are hyperfeminine, that represent our culture’s synthetic idea of femininity…. Drag loses its sense of danger and its sense of irony once it’s not men doing it, because at its core it’s a social statement and a big f-you to male-dominated culture. So for men to do it, it’s really punk rock, because it’s a real rejection of masculinity.”
RuPaul’s Drag Race returns for a tenth season on March 22, the premiere episode of which will feature Christina Aguilera as a guest judge. The third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars currently airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on VH1.