TV | Inside TV

'RuPaul's Drag Race' to drop controversial segment

Rupaul 01

(Logo)

Over the past five years, RuPaul’s Drag Race has turned out a few phrases, including telling contestants, “Don’t f— it up” when it comes time to “lip-synch for… your… life.” But, after a public outcry, the show is dropping one of its signature gimmicks. “You’ve Got She-Mail,” a weekly pre-challenge video dispatch from host RuPaul, will no longer appear on future episodes of Drag Race after LGBTQ activists spoke out, deriding the slang term “she-male” as transphobic.

As the Huffington Post reports, the controversy emerged after a March 17 mini-challenge called “Female or She-Male” presented current Drag Race contestants with cropped photos and tasked them with guessing whether the person pictured was biologically born female or was a past Drag Racer. This sparked criticism over the use of the word “she-male,” which many members of the transgender community believe carries violent and/or discriminatory connotations.

As a result of the protest, Logo issued a statement “thank[ing] the community for sharing their concerns.” Further, the network announced that it has expunged the “She-Male” challenge from all platforms and will eliminate the “You’ve Got She-Mail” segment for future episodes. A representative for Logo added, “We did not intend to cause any offense, but in retrospect we realize that it was insensitive. We sincerely apologize.”

During its seven seasons, Drag Race has made a mission of championing open-mindedness among and for the LGBTQ community. Notable members of the trans community – Chaz Bono, Candis Cayne, and Our Lady J – have joined the judges table. The show also featured two transgender contestants: Carmen Carrera competed in season 3, and season 5’s Monica Beverly Hillz received unqualified support from her competitors and RuPaul after tearfully revealing to the judges that she was transitioning.

For their parts, Monica Beverly Hillz told the HuffPo, “After my experience of being on the show…, the use of the words ‘she-male,’ ‘ladyboy,’ and ‘tranny’ are not cute at all. I have fought, and still am fighting, for respect from society … People don’t understand the daily struggle it is to be a transgender woman.” Carrera added, “Drag Race should be a little smarter about the terms they use and comprehend the fight for respect trans people are facing every minute of today. They should use their platform to educate their viewers truthfully on all facets of drag performance art.”

In response to Logo’s move, GLAAD CEO & President Sarah Kate Ellis said, “Logo has sent a powerful and affirming message to transgender women during a pivotal moment of visibility for the entire transgender community.”

Originally posted April 14 2014 — 4:19 PM EDT

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