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'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."

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  1. 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...

    Posted by: Anthony | Apr 14, 2014 1:56:59 PM

  2. 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.

    Posted by: WayneMPLS | Apr 14, 2014 1:58:21 PM

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

    Posted by: litper | Apr 14, 2014 2:01:28 PM

  4. @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.

    Posted by: Lucas H | Apr 14, 2014 2:03:32 PM

  5. 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.

    Posted by: Qj201 | Apr 14, 2014 2:04:28 PM

  6. @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.

    Posted by: kipp | Apr 14, 2014 2:10:35 PM

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

    Posted by: sean | Apr 14, 2014 2:17:44 PM

  8. 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.

    Posted by: Rene | Apr 14, 2014 2:41:58 PM

  9. 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.

    Posted by: Zell | Apr 14, 2014 3:07:47 PM

  10. 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.

    Posted by: Lance | Apr 14, 2014 3:41:04 PM

  11. 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.

    Posted by: Tyler | Apr 14, 2014 3:41:53 PM

  12. @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...

    Posted by: Robert M. | Apr 14, 2014 4:13:29 PM

  13. Actually, SPOT, Dan Savage's column was initially titled exactly that: "Hey, Faggot!".

    Posted by: The Milkman | Apr 14, 2014 4:14:58 PM

  14. 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?

    Posted by: Russ | Apr 14, 2014 4:37:45 PM

  15. 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.

    Posted by: bobbyjoe | Apr 14, 2014 5:34:17 PM

  16. 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.

    Posted by: Randy | Apr 14, 2014 5:38:29 PM

  17. 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.

    Posted by: JMartindale | Apr 14, 2014 6:12:42 PM

  18. 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.

    Posted by: KC | Apr 14, 2014 6:15:00 PM

  19. 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.

    Posted by: JMC | Apr 14, 2014 6:16:39 PM

  20. Laissez-faire, excuse me. Super excited for tonight's episode btw!

    Posted by: JMC | Apr 14, 2014 6:19:38 PM

  21. 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."

    Posted by: Tyler | Apr 14, 2014 6:21:57 PM

  22. @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?

    Posted by: Zell | Apr 14, 2014 6:23:53 PM

  23. 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?

    Posted by: TheDrDonna | Apr 14, 2014 6:27:53 PM

  24. 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

    Posted by: JMC | Apr 14, 2014 6:29:23 PM

  25. 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.

    Posted by: Thedrdonna | Apr 14, 2014 7:18:49 PM

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