'Drag Race' Queens Discuss Gender Identity & Trans Representation in Hollywood
In the first two episodes of season three of Billboard Pride’s “Spillin’ the Tea” video series, the RuPaul’s Drag Race queens discussed everything from surreal celebrity meetings to making music, but in this week’s episode, they touch upon some heavier topics including transgender representation in Hollywood and why they believe that violence against transgender people is not getting the news coverage that it should be.
Before tackling those issues, though, Gia Gunn, Peppermint, Jiggly Caliente, Bob the Drag Queen, and Aja recall who their first celebrity crushes were, leading them to reveal some hilarious childhood memories.
Peppermint divulges that her first celebrity crush was probably He-Man, while Jiggly enjoyed the Red Power Ranger (played by Austin St. John), Bob liked watching Kristi Yamaguchi on the television (and one time kissed the screen and got a literal shock), and Gia Gunn had the hots for Lil Bow Wow.
The conversation then turns to transgender representation in Hollywood. With shows like Pose and Transparent finally giving trans actors and actresses opportunities, Gia Gunn asks her fellow panelists if Hollywood is seeing this as a trend or if they think these opportunities will continue.
“You can't just give us a crumb any more,” Peppermint replies. “We are going to ask for not only proper writing, and writing that really celebrates more than just the transition story, writing that actually celebrates the lives of trans individuals and also shows different types of people in the community and also gets people like Janet Mock and directors and people behind the scenes on set who also have trans experience to make sure that we're doing it the right way."
"I think we're in a time and place where we won't take it any more and we're not gonna allow Hollywood to give us that any more and I think they're learning their lesson,” she adds.
Gunn also brings up the tragic statistic that, at the time of taping, there had been 21 [Peppermint points out that it’s 21 that we know of, and sadly, that number is now at 22] victims of violent murders in the US this year alone, and asks her fellow Drag Race alums why we aren’t seeing more coverage of these stories in the news.
Peppermint replies that she doesn’t think the media even knows how to cover those stories. “They don't quite understand it,” she explains, “Many of our stories are complex and so reporting on them in a proper way, it can be a minefield if they don't know how to do it. A lot of times they have to realize that it's important for them to respect the gender identity and the expression of the person. The legal names, the name they go by, they don't know how to do that.”
It is then that Jiggly Caliente shares an emotional and powerful story of the time when she was attacked, and she found that she had no one to turn to who would take her seriously.
Caliente, who has been open about being a sex worker prior to appearing on Drag Race, reveals that one time when she was working, things got out of hand. “I was attacked, and, so I went and tried to tell a cop what happened. I tried to press charges, 'cause I still had the information of the guy who did it. They didn't care.”
She adds that the cop essentially said that it was her fault and didn’t even offer her a rape kit. “So I could understand why they're not talking about in the news, 'cause they don't care,” she says. “And it sucks that this is our world. Something bad happened to me, I couldn't even tell a cop.”
You can watch the full video above, and watch the previous two episodes of “Spillin’ the Tea” below.