Commentary Strange Fruit

A man who makes a living performing in drag is probably pretty woke about trans issues, right? Sadly, it ain’t necessarily so.

Former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Willam Belli recently made some transphobic remarks on her online show “Suck Less.”

“Just because someone says they’re a boy doesn’t make them a boy,” Belii said on the show. “Just because you cut your t****** off and take testosterone, that doesn’t change your chromosomes.”

Fans and critics were predictably upset by this seeming dismissal of the right and ability to self-identify. But it’s not the first time we’ve seen transphobia in drag spaces. Lashes, lipstick, and platform heels can make it easy to forget many drag queens are still cisgender white men on the inside.

It brings to mind the times we’ve seen white drag queens using racist humor as part of their comedy routines (remember Shirley Q. Liquor?).

On this week’s show, we talk about encountering trans-antagonism, and racism, in spaces we might not expect it. Listen in the player above, and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Laura produces Curious Louisville, Strange Fruit, and other audio news stories for WFPL.