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Caitlyn is Transgender, Don’t Call Her a Drag Queen

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Vanity Fair

Let’s finally clear the air-Caitlyn Jenner is transgender. There has been a slew of misinformation flying around the internet and even in our community. You’d think that most gays would know the differences, but we’ve been surprised at what we’ve been reading. I would never call a drag queen a cross dresser (mainly for fear of my life) and I certainly wouldn’t call transvestite a transsexual. Why? Because I know the difference. So here’s a nice, little primer for everyone:

Transgender/Transsexual, like Caitlyn, is used for an individual who does not identify as the sex they have been born, and sometimes (but not always) have surgeries to transform their bodies. This does not mean that the individual is schizophrenic; that is a diagnosed illness and does not have anything to do with being transgender.

My personal inspirational Transgender individual happens not to be a real person at all. Anna Madrigal in many ways IS very real, and close to the heart of so many fans of Armistead Maupin’s Tales Of The City series. (If you haven’t read these books, do so immediately!) Anna was a groundbreaking character who has no doubt inspired and empowered so very many people despite gender and I wanted to honor her in this post.

So let’s get to what Caitlyn is not…Starting with a term I’ve seen a lot.

Drag Queen/King: No, Ms. Jenner is most certainly not a drag queen and I wouldn’t call a drag queen transgender. A drag queen/king is a like a geisha, a living breathing work of art. A drag queen is a performance artist and can be either male or female. Although there are those who are sexually attracted to drag queens/kings, drag queens/kings themselves are in general not “turned” on by painting their faces and donning their wigs or faux beards. Some will go as far as abstaining from sex until their beard grows back in.

Examples:

Donna Sachet

The Late Vicki Marlane, photo by Rick Gerharter

 

Lady Bunny

RuPaul

Heklina

Willam Belli

Hoku Mama Swamp, female drag queen

Landon Cider, drag king

Transvestite: An individual who enjoys wearing the clothes of the opposite sex. Transvestites do not identify as the opposite sex, nor a desire to change the sex they were born with, but enjoy the aesthetics of the opposite sex; once again, not to be confused with drag queens. Also, this term is going out of fashion.

Examples:

Dr. Frank N Furter, Twentieth Century Fox

Eddie Izzard

Cross Dresser: Similar to a transvestite, a cross dresser is an individual, generally in the heterosexual community, who is turned on sexually, or non-sexually, by wearing the clothes of the opposite sex. The term developed for those who wanted to distance themselves from the transvestite community. While there are female cross dressers, most of the CD community is comprised of straight men. They may even keep their interest in women’s clothing a secret from their partners.

 Non-binary/Genderqueer: An individual who does not identify as any one gender, or with gender at all.

Examples:

Jiz Lee

Dwane Reade, Foxhouse Films

Intersex (formerly hermaphroditic): Simple, an individual who has both male and female hormones and/or chromosomes that may express themselves in a variety of different ways. Not every intersex person has a vagina and a penis. It’s not that simple. You cannot become intersex; you must be born intersex even if it’s not apparent until later in life, such as at puberty.

Now, for my special shout outs:

Sister Of Perpetual Indulgence: I myself would not label the sisters as drag queens/kings since they are so much more than what they appear to be. All over the world, donning spectacular habits, elaborate make up, and tons of sparkle, these dedicated nuns bless us with glitter, bring smiles to our faces, and remind us we have hope, and a lot more work to do since 1979. For decades, the Sisters have worked tirelessly helping those in need both within and out of the gay community. Their focus on creating a better world while putting on one hell of show deserves a special bow.

Examples:

Sister Roma

Sister Mary Margaret X-plosion

And finally I would like to add someone who just cannot be put in any category, because she is just too…everything. Amanda Lepore is an ICON.

Photo by Ves Pitts

I know I’ve most likely missed something, but hopefully for those whose ignorance may have gotten them into the hot seat, I hope this helped clear things up. Now go out and get to know people before passing judgment.

-The Otter

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