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Battle of the Queens: Men Fighting for the Crown

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Jai LattoBy Cory Albertson

The winner of the Miss Transgender UK pageant, Jai Dara Latto, was stripped of her crown for not being a “full-time” transwoman, according to organizer Rachael Bailey. The pageant was launched for the first time last year in September in London, but the ineligibility issue occurred five months later in February 2016.

Bailey said, “When Jai entered the competition, she said she was full time, and she is not. She is a drag queen.” After allegedly seeing video footage suggesting that Latto is not living as a full-time woman, Bailey has crowned another contestant, Daisy Bell, instead.

Latto, however, insists she is transgender and says she has already begun hormone treatment to become biologically female.

 

By Definition

A “drag queen” is a person, usually male, who dresses in “drag” or an exaggerated femininity complete with feminine gender roles and aesthetics. Typically, drag queens dress as women for the purposes of entertainment and self-expression. Hair, make-up, and costumes are the most important essentials for these “queens.” The process of getting into drag (often a made-up character or celebrity impersonation separate from the person’s everyday identity) can take hours.

Queen may refer to the trait of affected royalty found in the personalities of many who do drag (whether this is their normal personality or a character created for the stage).

Drag as a term referring to women’s clothing worn by men has less clear origins. According to one theory, it was used in reference to transvestites at least as early as the 18th century, owing to the tendency of their skirts to drag on the ground.

Drag queens are sometimes called “transvestites” which is an umbrella term for men who derive pleasure from dressing like a woman. Because “drag” is more specific, often synonymous with public performances and an over-the-top look, many transvestites do not self-identify as drag queens.

“Female impersonator” is another term for a drag queen, but it is sometimes regarded as inaccurate because not all drag performers are trying to pass as women. Famous drag queen RuPaul once said, “I do not impersonate females! How many women do you know who wear seven-inch heels, four-foot wigs, and skintight dresses?” He also said, “I don’t dress like a woman; I dress like a drag queen!”

A transgender person is wholly different from drag queens, female impersonators and transvestites. According to sociologist Lisa Wade, a transgender person experiences the medical condition “gender dysphoria” which is the sense of being a woman in a man’s body, or vice versa.

 

New Rights

A transgender teen, Gavin Grimm, in Virginia is fighting for the right to use the bathroom that corresponds with his gender identity Grimm, who was born a girl, got a name change (Gavin) to align with his gender identity as a male. Earlier this year, North Carolina enacted a law that requires transgender people to use public restrooms that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate. Since then, other states have and will likely move forward in defining their stance on the issue via legislation.

The question for women is whether new public restroom rights for transgender women, specifically, are an infringement on their right to privacy. For fear of their safety, should women be able to challenge the legitimacy of a self-identified transwoman in a public bathroom?

While the courts determine civil and privacy rights, transgender beauty pageant organizers are fiercely trying to uphold the legitimacy of whether a person is a transwoman or simply a drag queen. If those in the transgender community are trying to sort out who is who in pageants and otherwise, should people using public restrooms even have to figure it out?

 

Hers magazine March/April 2016POLL:

What do you think about transgender people using the bathroom associated with their new identity rather than their gender at birth? Take our survey on online or on Facebook.

 

 

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