On Into, one trans writer and advocate, Precious Brady-Davis, wrote that she found RuPaul’s idea of drag “Misogynist” and “Repulsive” and that he needs to “Catch up with the rest of the movement.” Former Drag Race contestant Willam called Ru out on Twitter and Instagram, writing, “We work with trans women every night side by side and for them to be denied the opportunities because of someone’s narrowminded view on what they call ‘drag’ is fucked.” Perhaps sensing the winds were shifting, RuPaul tweeted an apology, writing: “I understand and regret the hurt I have caused. The trans community are heroes of our shared LGBTQ movement. You are my teachers.”

RuPaul March 5, 2018 That, of course, only made things worse, because it looked like he was re-entrenching his belief that trans women who have begun physically transitioning should not be able to compete on the show, which has become a platform for drag queens to launch their careers.

In 2014, RuPaul’s Drag Race had its biggest controversy over its use of the word “She-male.” Through season six, the show had a spoof on America’s Next Top Model’s Tyra Mail that they called “She-Mail.” The firestorm started after a mini-challenge that season, w the contestants had to identify whether a photo was of a “Female” or “She-Male.” Trans writers called the show out, as did former contestants and trans women Carmen Carrera and Monica Beverly Hillz.

Why does RuPaul think that trans identity is incompatible with drag in the first place?During our interview, I also asked him about his views on how he saw trans identity relate to drag – a conversation he wasn’t interested in having.

Even RuPaul’s Drag Race has reflected this, featuring a number of trans female performers, from Sonique in season two to Jiggly Caliente in season four to Peppermint in season nine.

During the season-nine finale, Laverne Cox made a pointed video statement to Peppermint, saying, “Being a proud transgender woman is not incompatible with being America’s next drag superstar. You can have them both.” When RuPaul brought the topic up, Peppermint said, “Trans women have always contributed to the wonderful art form of drag since the beginning of time. This is not new.”

Drag has been a way for trans women to, relatively speaking, safely explore their identity.