Allegheny College’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance hosted a talk in Grounds for Change on Tuesday, Feb. 28. The discussion focused on drag and how it can perpetuate transmisogyny, discrimination against transwomen and how drag can be used to reclaim femininity.
“We really wanted to open up a space for people to talk about drag and the transmisogyny that it can perpetuate,” GSA President Noah Thompson, ’19, said.
The GSA board, members of the club and others from the Allegheny community sat in a tight circle discussing their varying points of view about drag and the messages it can send to people outside the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning community.
“I was happy with the turnout,” GSA Treasurer Jonathan Davidson, ’19, said. “There were even some people that I haven’t seen before at the talk. It’s always refreshing to see new faces.”
GSA was inspired to host the event after they sent out a poll that gauged people’s thoughts on having a drag show during a prospective students’ weekend.
“One of the responses [from the poll] was concerned about the transmisogyny that surrounds drag, so we wanted to have an open discussion about it for everyone,” Thompson said.
GSA’s goal for this discussion was to educate people about drag and how it can perpetuate transmisogyny, but also how to do drag in a tasteful way that is not disrespectful to transwomen.
“Part of the reason transmisogyny is a problem in drag is because of the media,” Thompson said. “They tend to only show drag as entertainment and not actual transwomen, which makes the public unable to differentiate the two.”
GSA Major Events Coordinator Luka Crozier, ’19, said that drag was not always this way.
“Drag in a historic context is very different from what is shown on ‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race’ today,” Crozier said.
When discussing the possibility of hosting a drag show on Allegheny’s campus, GSA board members wanted to be sure that it would be respectful and not transmisogynistic in any way.
“It would be counterproductive to hold an event that alienated the very culture it sought to help,” Davidson said.
GSA would use impartial judges to eliminate participants who may threaten to disrespect the event, according to Thompson.
GSA plans to portray drag as a form of art or entertainment, not a joke.
“We should consider whether having a drag show would have the intended effect and perhaps explore other potential activities to build and foster a LGBTQ+ inclusive community,” Davidson said.
Thompson said that transmisogyny is not limited to the drag world.
“There is a lot of transphobia going around with the new [Trump] administration,” Thompson said. “It’s also a good talk to have since we are considering having a drag show. I’m hoping it will show people not to be disrespectful towards drag.”