There is a lot of discussion over this post at Rebecca Juro’s Facebook so I went to elaborate further my thoughts on the transgender people vs drag culture as I responded to all the comments given there with a post, which I believe states my position quite clearly…
Thank you for giving yourselves a change to discuss about this. Perhaps to make my thoughts clearer to you, I will try to respond to all the points made here.
– Drag culture is not gender identity. There is nothing to be imposed upon art performances. No gender requirements are needed to drag, because even transgender women, even women, even babies, can drag.
– Agreed, that transgender women do not have rights the way drag queens do. We must make the separation, because whether we like it or not, privilege counts. There is a huge difference of privilege when a drag queen goes to a ladies bathroom as a joke for one time, and trans women going when needed to, for life.
– Again, this not about shaming drag queens. This is about opening our eyes to drag culture. We have grown so inured to it that some even say “drag was how they felt most comfortable coming out” when she meant cross-dressing, not drag. Drag is acting, an expression, a performance. Not gender dysphoria.
– We are not against people here, rather a performance culture that is holding the trans population back from gaining their rights. Are we really so shallow to think that society would understand us more if we “sensitize” us by having someone express dressings and makeup to the extremes as our visible element?
– Most of the country would not know the difference until we start talking about the difference. Many times we blame the majority public for being ignorant about us. But we have to counter-voice that.
– I have mentioned this regardless of the RuPaul incident. Not after. I just felt the time is appropriate for people to see that the drag is just a drag, and the true person is still the individual with an intention to drag to pursue what he or she thinks is the perfect caricature of women to express in the general public.
– Women were not mentioned in this because for the sake of the argument, it has always been who represents transgender women. The most “cartoonish looking image” in the picture happens to be She-Lah, Malaysia’s most prominent and visible drag queen, claims to represent transgender women, yet as Edwin Sumun full-time (pun intended) is earning his bucks as an established VO Talent, actor, director, with all his male-privilege, with none of the classic bias, prejudice and discrimination faced by us all. And it is not helping, that he turns transgender experiences into comedy, which the media picks up as fun.
– I am not self-loathing. I have come many years to be able to admit this conclusion. Because we needed the numbers, we needed the access to male privileges gay drag queens have, we needed them, until the point that when you Google the any media in Asia, that caricature of transgender women, became the very item they love to report about besides sex workers. But we can empathize with sex workers, but it is another trouble when we are reduced as merely men in dresses with thick make up and big hair.
– Again, we look internally, wanting acceptance from places that offer drag culture, wanting to be part of the gay community that cross-dresses in public. Wanting to belong. But our lives are just not limited to a gay clubs, likewise our lives are judged every time we walk out as who we are to the general public. And some straight people are limited to watching gay men parade in costumes in gay pride as an explanation to who we are. We are not all minorities fighting for basic human right, because drag, again, is an art performance, not humans. Every living being can drag, men, women, black, white, yellow, gay, straight, dogs, cats, and even snakes. But not every living being is born transgender. Herein, lies the difference, one that we need to make the distinction especially to the public.
– How are the majority drag queens, who have male privilege and daytime careers, be oppressed?
– The fact that I am seen and “very homophobic” and “anti-LGB bigot” by some already proves what I am saying. The T as always been ignored because homosexuals and LGBs have privileges transgender women do not have, and when that is pointed out, hence, that person is a bigot. Drag queens who are gays will have their two hour of attention before they go on with their natural lives. They have the “right” to cross-dress because to the public, it is a show. But do the public know, we are not a show? Drag queens do trivialize our lives and experiences.
– Again, drag = gender? It is not. Drag is acting. A performance. Even my coin-box can drag. So can my Tupperware. It has nothing to do with gender expressions. Who we are in our gender is not defined by clothes and accessories, let alone how we do our hair? It is our feel, senses, pheromones, experiences, touch, how we see the world; that is our gender. Our womanhood or manhood. Please get it already.
– Yet another comment about the “gay club”, a place to belong, a “safe place”. Please, can we look outside the gay club already, and stop internalizing ourselves to the point only drag queens represent us in the media? The world is bigger than that, and all of us have the responsibility to improve our lives as we are the real representatives to the public as transgender women; to be part of society. There is a monumental problem when we attempt to intersect an art performance that is usually used for gay men as their emotional outlet and the straight public as to the example of transgender women, with the every single day experiences which has little to nothing to do with drag, but their own character.
– Gay males and drag performances are actually separate issues. Not all gay males will drag. In fact, not anyone will drag. And precisely, anyone’s dressings are not representative of any group, because it is just dressing! And again, drag is just acting, one that caricaturizes women, or in our terms, trans women. It is indeed similar to blackface, as I replied to a friend’s comment: “Tell a black person that black face is a front of their own internalized racism the way you implied here for trans women. And they will tell you that it is nothing to do with that, but the intention to caricaturize and made into comedy people’s real experiences, and what the public circle demands for entertainment with that form of performances.”
– No one has to speak for me. But I urge transgender individual to start breaking free for the structures that are mostly created by gay men who are drag queens, or presume a socially constructed female identity, that locks us up into what we think transgender women are and where we belong. It is time we separate the drag from the human being. This is not about people vs people. It is about people vs a too commonly accepted part of transgender/gay culture that should be separated due to different needs and wants, but the same consequence in public, but we bear the greater risks.
– Do not let it be intersected forever. Break free. Make great friends to straights. Be nice to your co-workers. Help your family. Assist those who are truly weak. Be a good person. Shine as a cool person. That should be the measure of our character and personality. We must never, ever, let clothes define us, let alone dressings with the intent to shock and entertain, because at the end of the day when that is removed, it is only us, and the world.