The world of identity politics continues to subdivide and eat itself in the increasingly smaller worlds of social networking and blogs.
This time it’s that oppressive gender binary. You know, the cissexist one where “men are men and women are women”?
In the past several weeks, popular reality show host RuPaul has been in hot water over the controversial use of terms some claimed are disrespectful to transgender people. A recent episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race featured a segment titled "Female or She-male,” which some transgender activists claimed was transphobic. They have also admonished him for his repeated use of the alleged slur “tranny.”
RuPaul is noted among drag queens for his indifference toward the gender-specific pronouns used to address him—both "he" and "she" have been deemed acceptable, and he has said: “I love the word ‘tranny’!"
As a straight (sorry, cisgendered) male, I was not aware that with the new civil-rights frontier cresting for transpeople, “tranny” is no longer considered OK. What I do know is that RuPaul has done a lot to broaden mainstream culture’s acceptance of the LGBT community over the years (and a sense of humor has been a big help). But now the Homo Militia is protesting what they perceive as his transphobia.
You know things have gotten out of hand when RuPaul is taking heat. Ru was a trailblazer and did drag in Atlanta back when fag-bashers used to roam the Midtown streets at night.
I was on the periphery of the gay club scene in Atlanta when RuPaul emerged, and back then it was fun and open to anyone that was an outsider. Back then there was also a very real risk to being openly, flamboyantly gay that just doesn’t exist anymore. Back then you could get your ass kicked merely for being a “str8 ally.”
In the all-too-common ritual these days, the program has kowtowed to its critics. A statement released this week by RuPaul’s Drag Race said:
“We wanted to thank the community for sharing their concerns around a recent segment and the use of the term ‘she-mail’ on Drag Race.
“Logo has pulled the episode from all of our platforms and that challenge will not appear again.
“Furthermore, we are removing the ‘You’ve got she-mail’ intro from new episodes of the series.
“We did not intend to cause any offense, but in retrospect we realize that it was insensitive. We sincerely apologize.”
What’s odd to me is that they would demand this from an ally! I mean, why not fight the real enemy?