The 14th season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” will live in the herstory books as a big step forward for trans representation.
The show began with just two trans queens, Kerri Colby and Kornbread, but as the season progressed, they were joined by three others who spoke their truths, Bosco, Jasmine Kennedie and Willow Pill. It became the most trans-inclusive season to date.
Further cementing the season in herstory, Willow Pill was crowned America’s Drag Race Superstar, and she became the first out transgender winner of the main “Drag Race” franchise.
Speaking with Variety last month at RuPaul’s DragCon, Colby called the season “trans-tastic.” She stressed this wasn’t just a trend for the season, but that it was a place for her to speak her truth. Colby said, “I was very nervous to approach my truth for so long. Part of it was that I never felt like I saw me. Hearing a realistic story that tells me how to get there gives me a roadmap.”
Kennedie, who announced she was trans during an episode of “Untucked,” told her fellow queens, “Before coming here, I was about to start hormones. Coming here, I was scared and didn’t want to have to go through that process.” But it was Colby’s truth that inspired her to be her authentic self. During the episode, she said, “Seeing Kerri, seeing how confident she is in who she is, it just further affirmed what I’ve been feeling my whole life. So I, as well, definitely do feel like I am trans.” Kennedie added, “I’ve been so scared to say that, I’ve held back from that for so long because I didn’t want to hurt my dad. But I can’t lie about it anymore. I am trans.”
Reflecting on her journey at “DragCon,” Kennedie said, “It was a great feeling. Especially because we are all at such different places in our transition. We have had the ability to talk about the ideas of what trans is and what that process is like.” Kennedie added, “It’s so nice that World of Wonder and RuPaul gave us a platform to talk about it when these are horrible times in Florida and Texas, and trans rights are being questioned.”
Bosco took to social media, using Twitter to make their announcement while the season was airing. “This is something that’s been on my mind for over a decade now. I’ve spent my adult life working in the food industry and have never felt financially secure enough to start this process. Honestly, I was also just flat out terrified of how I’d be treated. I still am.”
Willow Pill didn’t just share her transitioning with audiences via social media, she opened up about having cystinosis, a genetic disorder that causes tissue and organ damage throughout the body. But, it was her coming out as a trans-femme that was another huge step forward for her and representation on the show.
On her journey, she said, “When I got home I had a lot of thinking to do. I slowly started talking with my friends, my family and my therapist. I felt the need to make it clear to the public my entire side of the story. I need to bring the full story to the table so that people can truly understand what it’s like to be someone who’s nonbinary or trans and also dealing with chronic illness because the two affect each other greatly.”
While coming out gave her that feeling of having the weight off her chest, Pill admits, “There was a lot of pressure and you start to second guess yourself. Was that the right decision? Or should I have let that stay with me for longer?”
Being at different points in their transitions helped the queens feel connected. It gave them a sisterhood to bond over. Says Colby, “There’s almost a blood bond between some of our sisters, especially our trans girls, because not only did we relate to everything from a lifestyle, and entertainment perspective, but on a hormonal level, too. It was precious.”
Bosco adds, “It’s nice to have this built-in sisterhood, and it’s nice to see there isn’t really a separation between drag and trans queens. There’s no separation of church and state. There never has been, and there never will be.”
Sisterhood was key for Kornbread, a fan favorite from the get-go, and Colby was there for her. “I met Kerri when I first started. Kerri was there for me before the show and was there for me from the beginning of my transition. It was good to have someone there to relate to and have someone to talk to.”
While this might have been a historic step in the herstory of Drag Race, Colby says, “We are entering the trans era. I feel a lot of people having a lot of very honest conversations.”
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