‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ to Drop Usage of Transphobic Slur

Logo announced today that it would be dropping usage of the term 'She-Mail', a pun on a slur often used against trans people, after anger from trangender advocates, the HuffPost reports.

Said Logo in a statement:

RupaulWe 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.

In related news, more than 100 trans women have signed a letter denouncing two recent articles about the show's use of transphobic slurs.

Write the letter's signatories:

We, the undersigned trans women and trans-feminine individuals, are appalled at recent attacks on trans woman journalist Parker Marie Molloy published by Calpernia Addams and Andrea James on the Huffington Post and Boing Boing. Addams’ and James’ hit pieces exhibit a pervasive hostility to young, queer trans women, and indeed any trans woman who is uncomfortable with the use of transmisogynist slurs by cisgender drag queens like RuPaul. They display homophobia, transphobia, ignorance, dishonesty, and hatred throughout.

Addams' and James' articles were published in response to commentary from Advocate writer Parker Marie Molloy over the RuPaul controversy. Said Molloy in a tweet from March 18 (which coincided with an article published the same day): "I f–king hate @RuPaul. Like… there really are very few people I truly hate. He is one of them."

Comments

  1. Chris K says

    How touchy can you get? The show has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive on transgender issues (see Carmen Carrera & Monica Beverly Hillz), and people get upset over a word? Drag queen humour is supposed to be offensive and politically incorrect, and if you take offense to it, it doesn’t mean the jokes are insensitive. It just means you lack the ability to laugh at yourself.

  2. NotSafeForWork says

    If trans people want us to change the way we interact with them because our behavior is offensive, then we should change our behavior.

    Trans people deserve our respect and acceptance and do not deserve to be a punchline to a joke.

  3. Mikey says

    I do love and respect RuPaul, and I admit to being ignorant of trans issues. This is a learning experience, so mostly I just want to observe and hope everyone is respectful.

  4. Ryan says

    Imagine if Transgender people put this much time and effort to actually gain rights for themselves.

  5. Lucas H says

    How can anyone hate Rupaul??? I looked at Parker’s tweets after reading the mention of the one nasty one in this article, and she seems to be a pretty unhappy person in general. Whatever. I’m glad Rupaul seems to be willing to learn from what was a teachable moment, I think Ru is an excellent role model and advocate for LGBT youth.

  6. Gregory In Seattle says

    Privilege: The assertion that since it is not a problem for _you_, the problem does not exist.

  7. plinx says

    Good for Ru. Why continue to deliberately use a term that members of a group have repeatedly said they find insulting?

  8. says

    And he’d likely consider you an Uncle Tom Doormat, Stuffy :)

    nice to see the show *listened* to the criticisms and understood the perspectives of those who took issue with the terms used.

  9. mike128 says

    Drag performers are not trans nor should they be expected to represent the trans communities. I’m glad that Rupaul decided to change a term that has offended transwomen. But transwomen should also not expect drag performers to create or represent the trans community to the public. Drag performers present themselves as female for totally different reasons than transwomen do. Their performance is a send up of gender and sexuality.

  10. SPOT says

    Either slurs are ok, or they aren’t.

    Just because a slur doesn’t offend you personally isn’t the point. I think the show made the right decision. If it was a show about trans people, and they used the term, that would be another story.

    It would be like straight guys having a show called “Hey Faggot!”

  11. Chris says

    Hey trans activists, how about you fight for things that actually matter instead of intentionally misunderstanding satire to bring attention to yourselves in the worst light possible?

  12. Merv says

    I’m a strong believer in comedic license. Comedians should be given wide latitude in their entertainment, even to the point of saying things some people might find offensive. Unless it’s way over the line and mean-spirited, then people should hold their tongues.

  13. litper says

    It’s time for rounding up the rabid pro-hetero trans activists and sending them to camps, they are as evil and dangerous as Christians

  14. Homo Genius says

    they don’t like any thing that reminds them they aren’t actually women. So the male part of she-male is just too much.

    I am sure they have a special hatred for “cisgender drag queens” as evidenced in this article.

    I guess all the hormones make the so emotional and bitchy

  15. says

    I love RuPaul and always will but I can understand trans people not wanting us to use these terms. I am glad they are making these changes and I will still watch the show. Hopefully, one day we can all work together to make this a better place. We (gay men) get bent out of shape when people call us faggots, usually right before they beat or kill us. From what I have read in the news, they do pretty much the same thing to trans people, especially to trans women. Here’s one gay guy who has your back, I think it is ok to admire the art of drag and still stand for our trans brothers and sisters.

  16. Sean says

    Yet again, I will never understand why commenters on this site are so transphobic. What I found interesting is they spelled it “she-mail” Is this the same as a female mail carrier or are they so damn clueless over at that network they can’t even spell correctly the slurs they are using?

  17. litper says

    @Wayne there’s nothing wrong in beating hetero-worshipping trans activists who want to destroy the gay community, they were destroying it from the beginning when they realised they couldn’t hold the progress of gay rights anymore they infiltrated the gay movement with their propaganda of effeminacy. But even there they failed. Now they’re so desperate, they will attack even the pre-op transsexuals (drag queens) for not being trans enough and comforming to their hetero ideals!

  18. Chris says

    Sean, seriously? It’s spelled she-mail because it’s mail. Like email, but ladyfied. It’s not a slur, it’s a pun.

  19. Derrick from Philly says

    LOL.

    Drag performance is as Gay as Vaseline and KY Jelly. Some of y’all (Rick) are plain silly. Get away from that keyboard and change ya’ damn drawahs, will ya’?

  20. Anthony says

    I know that trans folks are treated badly by the world, and that has to change.

    However, these mad-at-the-world people who portray themselves as activists, but really just want attention are not helping.

    #1 censoring language will not help make the world better for trans folks

    #2 the usage by RuPaul was obvous satire -parody of the kind of people who actually are a problem.

    #3 atacking allies will result in a setback not in progress

    #4 why is this term so hot button, but ladyboy, sissy that walk, hunty and fish, among others are left alone.

    #5 why do so many of these “activists” not understand how some folk find the “cis” labels offensive? So many trans people have told me I don’t have the right to be offended by it in the same breath they tell me that I don’t get to decide if I mean any offense if I say “tranny” – and they don’t see the irony…

  21. says

    I don’t find “cis” offensive. It’s easier than saying “not transgender”” or the long winded “I identify with my birth gender” or something silly of that nature. I think the word is a good one. Maybe people find it offensive if they don’t know what it means.

  22. litper says

    @SEAN your name is not trans enough, you cis scum! Go away or accept the trans dictate of these activists!

  23. Lucas H says

    @SEAN Just to answer your question, the misspelling is intentional. It’s supposed to be like an “email,” only it is coming from RuPaul, hence the pun.
    Anyway, I don’t think most of us are transphobic. I think most of us are fond of our transgender brothers and sisters, or at the least, open minded and willing to try and be respectful.
    That being said, there be trolls under these bridges here. It’s easy to skip over the 25 mundane comments, and then ONLY notice the one or two crazy ones. They stick out like sore thumbs. We’re all guilty of feeding them from time to time, whether by ignorance or out of sheer frustration.

  24. Qj201 says

    Trans internet activists are to today’s movement what radical lesbians were to the 70’s movement. Ready to pounce at a moments notice for any actual or perceived slight. Excepts the new ones do it on a keyboard somewhat anonymously.

  25. kipp says

    @Sean,

    It’s a pun – the punned word is “e-mail”, not “e-male”. RuPaul knows how to spell his jokes.

    She-male is also a perjorative for drag queens since, much to the consternation of true transgender people, the general public doesn’t do a great job of making the distinction. The she-mail joke is a subversion of the perjorative term by someone on-whom this term has been used. It’s sad that the right to subvert the term is now trumped by the humorless.

    The desire to not be lumped with drag queens seems to shade into drag-hate on the part of some transgender people (Ms. Malloy seems one obvious example). I can only speculate that perhaps they feel drag demeans the nature of transition or the authenticity of transgender people who also “cross-dress” – and to some extent, because of ignorance, this is probably true. But the blame rests with the ignorant, not the drag queens.

    Ms. Malloy is pointedly not a lipstick transgender female (if that’s even a meaningful term) – and she seems to dislike the expectation that MTF people are all glamour-lovers enough to hate drag queens for it.

  26. sean says

    Chris, thanks. I didn’t read the article obviously. I get it now. It just isn’t funny.

  27. Rene says

    100 signatures?! Oh my!11 How about we not allow ourselves to be bullied by a bunch of sanctimonious trans separationists and instead praise the works of drag queens who’ve done nothing but promote the gender fluidity that makes it ever-so-slightly easier for effeminate men (both heterosexual and homosexual) as well as transgender women (particularly those who don’t “pass”) to walk down the street without being harassed?

    If Zinnia Jones and Parker Molloy ever write anything substantive to explain their positions instead of posting pseudo-intellectual, half-baked attempts at Queer Theory in the Twitter-sphere alone, I’ll give them the time of day.

    In the mean time, conDRAGulations on your 100 signatures, ladies.

  28. Zell says

    It’s only a matter of time before trans activists decide that they find the entire concept of drag to be offensive, and for once I agree with them.

  29. Lance says

    I find it interesting that only time it’s been actually used in the way that would describe a transsexual has been one mini-challenge this season, and many pre-op transsexuals have competed in prior seasons and made no such denouncement of the “You’ve got she-mail” that has appeared in every episode before and while they competed. Personally I find it to be quite shallow for them to feign some sort of anger towards a show that accepted them as they are and subsequently gave them the fan base and platform to speak out. Each of those contestants have not only been allowed to participate but have also been encouraged by RuPaul to be proud of who they are. So perhaps the transsexual community can take a step back and think of the real enemy before attacking a show that paints them in a positive light and learn to take a f**king joke.

  30. Tyler says

    Zell, please explain how drag is offensive, and why you assume all Trans activists would be in favor of getting rid of it. I’m genuinely curious to see if your reasoning isn’t laced with some misogyny and self-loathing.

  31. Robert M. says

    @ZELL You’d better just step back. The entire gay rights movement owes a deep and I mean DEEP debt of gratitude to Drag Queens. They where the people who had finally had enough courage to fight back against the overt oppression of the police in NYC against gays. They where the ones who stood up at the Stonewall Riots and said enough is enough. YOU as a gay man, living in an age of wider acceptance and legal respect for the gay community, YOU as a gay man able to live your life openly and authentically would not be able to do so if it were not for those “horrible drag queens” which you hold so much disdain for. Learn to show some respect and acceptance for people who are living their lives authentically and pursuing their dreams on their own terms just as, one would hope, you are.

    As for the the show changing the term “She-mail” to accommodate the concerns of the trans-community, I think it’s a good Idea. The entire gay rights movement isn’t just about gaining legal protections and recognition, it’s about promoting acceptance and respect for sexual minorities of all stripes who are discriminated against. We wouldn’t be happy if a similar show to “Drag Race” used the term “Fag-mail” so, think of it in terms of being respectful to other people for whom we as a gay community need to accept for who they are just as we want to have that same respect paid to us by heterosexuals…

  32. The Milkman says

    Actually, SPOT, Dan Savage’s column was initially titled exactly that: “Hey, Faggot!”.

  33. Russ says

    If I don’t want to be called “faggot” as a slur, than I can certainly live with not using “she-male.”

    Now if they’d just get rid of the misogynist, “fishy” adjective – or am I being too sensitive?

  34. bobbyjoe says

    I’m probably grabbing a tiger by the tail, but I actually do think the term “cisgender” isn’t cool. It’s not like non-trans people all decided “hey, let’s call ourselves cisgender”– it’s a name that’s being thrust on them from outside (and I’ve seen a number of trans activists use the term with varying degrees of contempt). Isn’t that exactly what we’re supposed to be avoiding about terms defining entire groups? Linguistically, the word “cisgender” with its weird sibilance, even sounds like its meant to demean (is it really any coincidence that it sounds very close to the slur “sissy”?) If the point is “we’ve been called insulting things in the past, so we’re going to call others whatever we want,” that’s a pretty childish and puerile way to run any civil rights movement. So who in the non-trans community got together and voted on that word as an acceptable way to define non-trans people? I’m just curious how many non-trans people like this word or think it’s cool to throw it around.

  35. Randy says

    This is just petty.

    It’s not as if Ru Paul is some transphobe, some version of Alec Baldwin.

    Transgender people ought to pick real battles, instead of fighting friends.

  36. JMartindale says

    I can barely make sense of this bizarre display of aggression by various factions of mentally ill people. It is like watching various wings of an insane asylum waging war on one another.

    As best I can follow, you have a TV show about crossdressers, which used a word that a group of shemales didn’t like. The shemales – eager for any reason to protest an external enemy and thus distract them from their dismal lives and nonexistent morals – protested against the crossdressers. This led to several articles written or published by different shemales, apparently among the very few shemales who are both literate and employed.

    And then yet another group of shemales took offense at those articles and signed a letter denouncing the shemales who wrote the articles. No word yet on which faction will win the backing of the “neutrois” – the transgenders who seek to castrate themselves.

    What a tremendous waste of human life and energy to have people caught up in the insanity of transgenderism. Imagine if these were normal people with normal brains. What would they be doing right now? Working productive jobs. Raising children? Taking care of spouses? Serving their communities?

    Instead, they spend their days raging at a never-ending line of slights and offenses, while they descend further into a madness which drives at least half of them to suicide.

  37. KC says

    Transphobic? Is that a new word now? Are we just going to add “phobic” to everything now? You know where I mostly hear phrases like “tranny” or “she male” from? From transgendered people themselves. Perhaps the transgendered activists should also go after the porn industry, since that’s the industry where a lot of transgendered are often exploited and fetishized.

  38. JMC says

    It’s very important this show does not hurt transgender viewers and contestants (which it has done plenty of times already), but the bigger point here that people are inexplicably missing is the impact a lassies-fair approach to slurs has on viewers. Drag Race is a ton of LGBT-friendly peoples first introductions to drag queens and transgender women. My mother, for instance, took away from this show that she male and tranny were frivolous, funny words she could use without consequence. That’s not even addressing the effect the terrible transphobic challenge that sparked this response to begin with could have on viewers.

    Gay people know exactly how important appropriate media representation is, so it’s pretty obvious everyone taking issue with this is transphobic themselves.

  39. Tyler says

    BobbyJoe – Trans activists use language as a weapon. They concoct new terms and new rules on a regular basis. They make up linguistic “rules” and then alter them at whim. It is a way for them to exert power over others. They make up words and create and alter rules and then demand that everyone follow their dictate.

    This way, they get the pleasure of seeing people perform on command. And if anyone fails to perform, they get a reason to be “outraged.”

    “Cis” may or may not have been chosen because it sounds like sissy. But one thing is for certain: it is a term that they made up to use on others without their consent. One more abusive power trip by abusive people. They demand both the total freedom to define themselves AND the right to define others. If you object, they have another reason to get “outraged.”

  40. Zell says

    @Robert

    Take it easy, bro. Not everything that goes against your beliefs warrants a response of righteous anger. And you put the words “horrible drag queens” in quotes when I never said anything of the sort. Drag is a gay minstrel show, quickly falling out of fashion and rightfully so, but that doesn’t diminish the contributions of the Stonewall drag queens. And of course, people are free to do drag just as they are free to do anything else and I’m free to find it distasteful.

    And you’re free to call me “self-loathing,” and I’m free to correct you to self-respecting. Would you call a black person self-loathing because they cringe at a minstrel show?

  41. TheDrDonna says

    JMC,

    I don’t appreciate your supposedly “innocent mistake” comparing transwomen to Lassie. You might think it is funny to compare transfolk to a drooling, four-legged animal, but it is demeaning and wrong. And no, it doesn’t make it OK because Lassie was a female dog. Although some transwomen may identify as canines or other species, most identify as female human.

    Why don’t you check your cisprivilege?

  42. JMC says

    lmao what Tyler? I mean I know you’re a troll, but come on. Cisgender is a term created by cisgender sociologists, not trans activists. The suggestion the cis-prefix is insulting in origin is also absurd. From Wikipedia:” Cisgender has its origin in the Latin-derived prefix cis-, meaning “on this side of,” which is an antonym for the Latin-derived prefix trans-, meaning “across from” or “on the other side of”. ”

    It literally just means you’re not transgender, which is an identity a transphobic troll like you should be happy to identify with

  43. Thedrdonna says

    Again with someone pretending to be me. I know what “Laissez-faire” means, and I actually thought that JMC’s comment was one of the most thoughtful ones here. Of course, the trolls can’t stand an actual intelligent viewpoint being expressed, so they resort to their pathetically transparent tricks again, in the hope of filling anyone other than themselves.

  44. mododavid says

    I’ll give them that Andrea’s article was TERRIBLE, but Calpernia’s was not at all “transphobic”. It was instructional.

  45. XXX says

    I bet a good majority of these offended trannies do absolutely nothing politically active for their own community. They probably sit around all day taking selfies and trying to work some straight-boy trade on the internet, all the while picking and choosing things to be offended by.

  46. TC says

    How ironic that these offended transwomen take such exception to the use of slurs, and then use terms like “queer” to describe themselves and others.

    Who put them on the committee that decided “she-male” is offensive to transwomen and cannot be “owned” by drag queens, but “queer” can be “owned” by transwomen, no matter how offensive that term is to many people, including me?

    And then they use all sorts of arcane terminology like “cis gender” (I can’t even keep track of what means what anymore) to categorize drag queens, with no thought to those who find such terms offensive.

    But thanks for “mansplaining” these things for us, ladies.

  47. TC says

    OK, I did a google search on cisgender to refresh myself on what it’s supposed to mean.

    Supposedly it means “individuals who have a match between the gender they were assigned at birth, their bodies, and their personal identity”. So these people who don’t feel like their “assigned at birth” gender matches their identities have decided that the rest of us identify with our assigned genders?
    I have seen so many oprah/jenny jones type shows where a transgender person asks the audience to imagine waking up in the body of the opposite sex and think of how they would feel, and so many people then respond “oh, now I get it”. Me? I still don’t get it. If I woke up with a vagina and tits, I’d sure wouldn’t be happy about it. But I wouldn’t have an identity crisis either. I would just get on with my life.
    I have a hairy man’s body, that some find very attractive and some find repulsive, and some are indifferent to. That’s all part of how other people see me, but it’s all pretty arbitrary, and I don’t see any of it as reflecting or representing my inner self. This is definitely not the body I would choose, if I had a choice in the matter.
    I think it is strange enough that some people identify with the gender or other body aspects they were born to, and others identify with the gender they were not born to. But whatever, to each their own. But the amount of energy that goes into the impossible task of making others see them as the gender they feel they should be seen, that can’t be healthy.

  48. bobbyjoe says

    @JMC But the argument you make is sort of like a straight person saying “well, it’s okay if I call gay people ‘Homos,’ because, lingustically I’m just using the ancient Greek for ‘the same.'”

    Uh, no. Language isn’t that simple. If trans activists or anyone else wants to refer to a group of people as “cisgender” or particularly by the abbreviation “Cis,” then it behooves them to have widespread permission form that group to use that designation. Otherwise, they come across as total hypocrites.

  49. Gary says

    Why can’t we love transexuals, like Jeb Bush loves illegals? Next “The Huffington Post” will be telling us that masculine lesbians give people the creeps. Is there no end?

  50. Zeta says

    “Addams’ and James’ articles were published in response to commentary from Advocate writer Parker Marie Molloy over the RuPaul controversy. Said Molloy in a tweet from March 18 (which coincided with an article published the same day): “I f–king hate @RuPaul. Like… there really are very few people I truly hate. He is one of them.””

    What? How could anybody hate RuPaul? WTF is wrong with Molloy?

  51. Zeta says

    “they don’t like any thing that reminds them they aren’t actually women. So the male part of she-male is just too much. I am sure they have a special hatred for “cisgender drag queens” as evidenced in this article. I guess all the hormones make the so emotional and bitchy

    POSTED BY: HOMO GENIUS | APR 14, 2014 1:39:44 PM”

    @Homo Genius, you might be onto something, with your first sentence.

  52. MaryM says

    I find cis offensive – it is a name that has been assigned to me against my will.

    It justifies that use of trannie.

    Why are LGB peopler meant to care about trannie issues?

  53. Goonies says

    It is like watching various wings of an insane asylum waging war on one another.
    Posted by: KC | Apr 14, 2014 6:15:00 PM
    —————————————————-

    Tell me about it. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  54. MAR says

    As mentioned above, why use the term queer then? ??? The whole thing is silly. There is a blog fagalicious, no one is upset. They are attacking Ru when he is part of the community and obviously an ally, instead of fighting important issues and real enemies. Great use of time and resources

  55. MaryM says

    Trannies get off on being offended.

    And many of them are deeply homophobic yet expect complete support for their cause by the LGB community, even though their cause was lumped in with our cause without consultation.

    LGBT does not work.

    It’s time to drop the T, and wish them well on their journey.

  56. Chris says

    I can’t get behind this particular issue. The term “she-mail” in this sense is a play on drag queens, email, the old AOL phrase, and maybe even the fact that drag queens are men dressing up like fabulous women. It doesn’t have anything to do with transexuals at all. I am actually sad that RuPaul removed the phrasing from the show. The “offended police” will try to get upset at anything but we don’t always have to change it.

  57. Joshneil19 says

    I get the fact that some people in the trans community were offended I think no one should have to flip through the tv and see something that offends them no matter what but Rupaul and logo have admitted their fault and intend to change so why have such hatred towards them when they are trying to make the world a more gay and trans friendly place I seriously doubt logo or Rupaul would ever be hurtful or offensive on purpose being so rude to people who are on your side doesn’t make me want to help you out much its very important to educate people and bring attention to this stuff but to spread that kinda hatred is not helping your cause people lets everyone in the lgbtqa stand united and not fight against eachother we already have enough hate against us we shouldn’t turn on eachother! spread love AND EDUCATION not hate..