Trans Activist: Carmen Carrera

I am a pretty big fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, which is where I first came in contact with Carmen Carrera. At the time, she was simply a drag performer like the many other contestants on Drag Race. She came out as trans in 2012 and began speaking out as an activist alongside a career in modeling. Her story is definitely interesting, because she started out in the field of drag performance. Drag is when male identifying people dress in feminine clothing or female identifying people dress in masculine clothing. Drag performers often say that their profession is empowering, because it breaks down the gender binary that is reinforced by our society. It is also a safe and outlet for those that are exploring their gender identity to present their true selves.

However, since coming out as trans, Carrera’s relationship with Drag Race has definitely become more complicated. In 2014, she commented that one of the segments on the show was transphobic. The segment was called “Female or Shemale”. Carrera talks about how this plays into the obsession with trying to determine whether or not a woman is “really” female, or in other words identifying with the gender she was assigned at birth. Ultimately, this phenomenon is dehumanizing toward trans women. This was really concerning for me as a fan of the show, because I had always thought that drag was a positive community free from gender politics. However, it is clearly more complicated than that.

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