This thought passed my mind several years ago, how drag is the gateway drug to trans ideology.
I have been a supporter of male drag performers for as long as I can remember. It started from the blush of embarrassment as an insecure teen, after getting teased as busty by a male Singaporean drag queen Kumar, I continued to support his career over the span of 20 years. That's what happens when you sit in the front row of the new defunct Boom Boom Room, the first drag cabaret in Singapore.
It looked exactly like this, a small venue with a tiny stage, I always liked a touch of gritty street vibe mixed with an ironic over the top opulence, jeering at gender has always been fun for me.
I like observing how people are fooled into being nicer to me when I put on make up and dress well, their shallowness was a silent joke the clowns didn't know about, it was my circus and they thought they're puppet masters, that was what my young idealist self mistook for real power.
In hindsight, it had a sinister quality to it, I bought that lie out of desperation, I didn't think I had a choice.
I remember sitting at the Esplanade in 2015 and thinking I'm glad he made it, it's the local dream venue of many performers. Affectionately called the durian by locals, it was as iconic as the Sydney Opera House.
I spread the news like I always did to everyone I knew, I was the one who got people together to purchase tickets. When I saw him at Pink Dot, I was also ecstatic, I'm glad he's giving back. I always saw drag queens as part of our LGBT+ family, although until today I'm unsure if he is B or G, transsexual or one of many heterosexual performers.
As an out lesbian, the contrast was stark to me, how commercialised performance is seen as the same as coming out, they're called stunning and brave, nowadays even more so than out LGB women and men, when we risk losing work opportunities, "coming out" gained them opportunities instead.
Once, I was told to my face how I was unsuitable for a position at a girl's home, the interviewer was "afraid I would prey on the girls", I was refused a job I was highly qualified for.
I held it in and two days later I bursted into tears in front of a lesbian friend, the few times I cried in my life. It was totally irrational, I had no criminal record, the worse I have is a speeding ticket, ONE speeding ticket, I'm a primo goody too shoes with a resume that wowed employers.
Not to mention it was obvious discrimination, because the position was for House Mother, it was specifically listed they were looking for a female to take charge of the premises and be a mentor to at risk teen girls. I was so excited about this job, I still feel wistful about what a difference I could have made in their lives now, over 15 years later.
Her decision was based on a pride decal on my car, she didn't even bother asking if I was LB or a straight ally, the decal was good enough for her to take that giant leap.
DEVIANT, CRIMINAL, PREDATOR.
That was all it took.
A decal to determine my fate.
When I told people about this, some lectured me on how I shouldn't have put the decal up, they told me it was my fault so I never mentioned it again. As a lesbian, you're always told to live in the shadows, after you find it unbearable, must reclaim a central part of you, the persecution continues. We don't stop coming out, we come out constantly to different people, we also are victimised by them constantly as well, until today it hasn't stopped.
I saw drag as adult entertainment, leaning towards the comedy side, whereas Kumar does include some mainstream political messages in his act, I most certainly never walked away knowing more about the injustices of LBG or T+, I can't remember him even mentioning it once. It was also inconsequential to his success or perhaps that's the reason for it.
He didn't bear the brunt of stigma since people saw it as art, art lovers like myself are known for being open minded, art lovers unlike me aren't all into social justice.
He did repeat this one joke obsessively, at different venues. Pointing to his genitalia area while in drag and waving his hands like a vagina salesperson, he said " women nowadays, enjoy sleeping around, lelong lelong (Singaporean colloquial term for cheap auction sale), come you get it, come come, anyone also can."
There wasn't a time when I cringed first and as the crowd roared with laughter, I uneasily went along not to seem like a prude. That's how influential artists can be, I still remember it word for word, I'm not surprised at how youths today are influenced by drag queens.
This was a bestseller, slut shaming is always popular. He did it so subtly it was easy to miss, it was only after I deprogrammed from much of patriarchal thinking for years via feminism that I can see these messages clearly, that's how indoctrinated women are.
He was playing that non threatening maternal grandmother role, concerned about the state of wilful youths. Even then he was still policing women's bodies. These subliminal messages that fly under the radar can be more pervasive than the in your face ones that alert you immediately.
He is still going strong, showcasing his work this year at Esplanade Theatre.
It was too far fetched then to link it to the daily lives of post op transexuals who try to pass, people who genuinely want to be left out of the spotlight and get on with their lives. As I read up more about trans ideology, I saw that it wasn't far fetched at all, their goals and motivations are exactly the same, so much so that I think it can't be coincidental. While not all transexuals or pre op transgenders believe all of it with equal fervency, I find most of them lump it all together and see drag queens as LGBT heroes as a whole, unsurprisingly most of them aren't artists themselves.
When I showed people evidence that Big Pharma and Big Business is behind trans ideology, it wasn't an organic spinoff from the LGB movement, they called me a conspiracy theorist.
I'm tempted to wear a tinfoil hat and say it again to them, this time while mentioning alien visitations.
That would be comedy for me.
In the book Gender Hurts, published by Lesbian Radical Feminist Sheila Jeffreys in 2013, she sounded the alarm about trans ideology, that was 7 years ago. For that, she was ostracised, penalised heavily for being a LGBT+ heretic.
I read the book, all of what she mentioned came true, her insights were spot on, I highly recommend it. Get it here.
Entangled with commercialisation and hype, it has become far harder to talk about discrimination, social justice is getting buried, serious issues like workplace discrimination has been pushed to the bottom of the agenda.
It was after reading the work of Kes Sparhawk Amesley, PhD Rhetorical Studies, MFA Writing on Quora about drag culture that I started questioning the deeper implications of caricature costume-like portrayal of women, especially the psychological motivations.
The behaviour of these pseudo women reading other male drag queens, laughing about their body size, facial beauty, make up skills and artistic talents wasn't directed at them as men but at the superficial facade of a woman they each wore as a parody.
It is using the visibility of women as a tool, just like how we're expected to be used as sex providers, valued as pretty property ready to change hands from male slaveowner to male slaveowner. Drag legitimised this idea that women and the associated femininity are exactly what women are only good for, empty ornamental shells that must be painted and put on display instead of organically laying on beach sand, enjoying the sea breeze without interference.
RuPaul himself proclaimed drag was a male only act - and that women would probably be barred from competing on his show.
He claimed women drag artists lack 'danger and irony' - in part because men dressing in women's clothes is an overt rejection of masculinity.
Rupaul's idea of masculinity is rigidly male-centric, talk about irony. He didn't consider butches or outwardly masculine women, for example female fitness instructors or women who dress and have haircuts for convienence, women who dislike make up, etc. Hairy free monkey women who climb trees, go fishing instead of being stuck on treadmills trying to run the confidence back, only to come back to the same point of having to do more to feel good.
This overt rejection of male masculinity by hyper feminising it, made worse by the trans lobby pushing transition, backed by a narcissistic online culture of selfie obsession, there is this idea that everything must be overtly splashed on the outside or it doesn't exist. A peacock must strut to prove its realness, it is his born this way female brain true nature, peahens must be sidelined for its boring organic dullness, make up free active women are therefore seen as manly or ugly.
This toxic mix has ended up with many confused possibly lesbian masculine and gay effeminate teens instead, who can only see transition as the eventual aim. They cannot exist comfortably as gender bending females and males since large social justice movements like Stonewall UK, Women's March and Human Rights Campaign have shifted focus from LBG to T.
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They have a comfortable emotional distance to the idea of oppressed womanhood, they do not need to shoulder the burden of social pressure since they're treated as men when drag free while cognitively, people also see them as artistic men in dresses when they perform, not women.
It's a win win strategy, with income and job creation to boot.
Seeing women as a costume is also a survival mechanism for male drag, it is only by disengaging that they can desensitise from public barbs thrown. They have to see it as people are criticising a fictional character and not them, that fictional character is female, so this doesn't support the idea of trans women are women or trans women rights either, which is being seen as everyday people.
Since there wasn't much entertainment value in homestyle twerking or stripper-esque dancing in a world of educated art performers, the value had to come from subject as art. Using the physical body as a canvas, a part of it became similar to modelling and some people who call themselves transgenders have succeeded in the modelling industry, making trans ideology a valuable commodity beyond the owning of personhood, it can gain them entry into various new industries as a separate category.
Modelling, acting and make up being some of them.
Trans model Andreja has been notching up a list of “firsts” for the trans model community, by becoming the first trans model to be on the cover of GQ magazine (in Portugal), Glamour Magazine (Spain), and Harper’s Bazaar (Serbia). Transgender modelling agencies have sprouted up, specifically catering to the T market.
The unique selling proposition wasn't female beauty, it was trans beauty, that looks no different from female at a glance but are slots especially reserved for trans women. Slots that could have gone to plus size models which are still rare on front covers.
Tess Holliday only made it in 2018.
It is because they're men and sometimes because they're dysphoric men that made it OK to joke around, it is only when they have an amount of self loathing for male and female bodies that they desire to erase all relatable characteristics of the everyday woman and man, escaping to something else entirely, the prized T.
While I don't think drag was ever intentionally about sculpting the superior version of man or woman, this is how trans activists have been interpreting it, that T+ = special progressive forward thinking and LBG is relegated to boring boomer backwards old fashion thinking. I see many talented young artists use T+ labels to get them social media clout, the problem is this is all working too well.
There're too many tempting short term gains, not enough consideration for long term consequences, perfect for easily moral outraged teens eager for popularity, fame and attention.
Visibility as a political tool is about relatability rooted in normalisation, in a way that you can imagine someone as your president, politician, boss, neighbour or friend. People you see on the street, on social media, you meet them, get to know them and form emotional bonds with them. The need for male drag to stay in the zone of unrealistic representation works against campaigns such as Lesbian Visibility Day, Gay or Bi Visibility Day.
That was the key to their success, the prioritisation of capitalism over social justice, ditching LBG for T and drag, setting themselves apart is a requirement for them owning it, if not the facade of specialness that entice youths will topple like a novice trans woman trying to walk for the first time in six inch heels.
Just like how you don a costume, put on stage make up for Cantonese Opera or take off your work outfit and jump into your pyjamas, you compartmentalise your personal life from your work life through a change of outfit.
Trans women without photos, using anonymous profiles online often try to silence me whenever I discuss this topic. They assume I'm jealous, that I am throwing shade, they saw me as the catty woman, the sex doll dumb blonde that must compare with a photoless magical entity to feel good. Jealous of what I am unsure, I don't see myself as a costume version of a woman, I never have, I don't think a man can ever be a woman, I do not work in performance art either.
Also, if I were jealous of men having an advantageous position in society, I think that's normal, I know full well I'm dehumanised all the time.
They're thinking of people more like Kumar and Andreja, who pretty much look like anyone else on the street, people some might find extremely attractive or perhaps it is their fame that I'm suppose to be jealous about.
I still don't feel jealous, because I don't feel jealous of anyone else, I like myself too much to do so, I prefer confident people who do not need me to pander to them, it's the fragile ones that need constant soothing that distress me.
When I spoke to a local male drag performer, he reeked of misogyny, he took a trending article about men filming women in the shower and made it about how gay men can be targetted when they step out of gay saunas, something that didn't happen yet.
For all his visual genderbending, his mind is a narrow stereotype, male male male male male, later I saw he made a public post about how he's sexually harassed as a "woman" in public, he also looks like a male stereotype without drag, there isn't a hint of femininity whatsoever, so God knows how it relates to women at all.
He's riding the wave of feminism for publicity, without any contributions to local feminism whatsoever, in fact he hates me. His lackey, a local trans woman ganged up with him to deny the existence of misogyny.
While another local gay rights activist told me an autistic man convicted of groping a girl was acceptable behaviour, that women should understand. He also refused to give another lesbian a discount for her non-profit that focuses on transwomen safety. For all that supposed altruism, self interest is still number one, it all works well together, trans ideology, drag and gay misogyny.
My peak trans moment was experiencing yet another incident of misogyny within LGBT+ circles, when trans activists told a female rape survivor that she should tolerate trans women in rape shelters, I completely lost it. You can bet I regret supporting male drag, trans women or misogynistic gay men, thinking that like me, we're one and we're working together.
Out of curiosity, I searched for female drag queens, found Lacey Lou and Georgie Bee, I wanted to see if misogynists who defend drag are indeed a trend.
Both performers say RuPaul's claims are misogynistic, that he has sold out and has failed to pay attention to the drag community. 'There are a lot of male drag queens who think drag is only for men. But, it's really the idea of playing on gender,' Lacey Lou said.
The most interesting female drag queen is Victoria Sin.
Victoria Sin: 'A lot of drag is misogynistic but for me gender is the butt of the joke, not women
Sin’s drag character draws visual inspiration from certain “icons of femininity”, including Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich and Jessica Rabbit, the animated character in Disney’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit. “For me it’s about looking at the genealogy of images of femininity, so one will come from the other,” Sin says. “And through the continued performance or representation of these images of femininity, that specific kind of femininity is naturalised, and then the next person who takes it up has to do it even more for it to be spectacular. This is how images of femininity become so outrageous and why it’s normal for celebrities such as Kim Kardashian to have a body that is so sculpted.”
Male drag queens reinforce female gender stereotypes by behaviour, are fuelled by misogyny to mock the visible version of women. By appropriating the very femininity that oppress us with impossible beauty standards AND capitalise it for their own gains, they're just as complicit as male led beauty and cosmetic corporations as well as male big pharma and big business CEOs.
Female drag queens are indeed challenging female stereotypes, the only way to do it is to be a woman, Victoria Sin is truly mocking gender and not women yet they're overshadowed by men.
Male drag profiteers like Rupaul are still hailed as social justice warriors when they're regressive 1950s stereotypes who gatekeep women from being in the same industry, work against LBGT justice, harm transgenders by proxy and continue to exploit labour within movements to advance their agendas.
Perhaps the biggest joke of it all is women being too big hearted to fight for our gains while they have no problems doing so.
We're the scapegoats, we face misogyny and lesphobia, are still given none of the credit, use our own money and effort to educate the people we didn't harm nor profit from, we're still demonised as perpetual evil TERFs and people still ask WHAT ARE THE FEMINISTS DOING!
I am questioning how long this can go on before women decide that we too must profit from something, anything, and not take on the burden of being saviours to everyone.
When will we stop feeling being seen as good and kind can substitute for being rich and ambitious, when policing female morality was patriarchal in origin. No one can deny that money is intrinsically linked to power, no money no talk is as real as beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
We cannot satisfy everyone, whether we're rich or poor, kind or unkind, we cannot be sacrifices to bribe people who're determined to hate, by forsaking ourselves, we let womanhood down, we let women down.
Look at Rupaul, he doesn't care at all, he can sit in his cozy mansion, sip champagne with his boyfriend and truly laugh at how he didn't help any LGBTs, it made him rich and a hero at the same time.
Perhaps his joke is that we're all idealistic fools who believe in the greater good, he's only interested in his own good, we didn't catch on earlier.
Eshet chayil, God is a She.