This is a letter I just sent to the editors of my school newspaper, re: their coverage of the Drag Show Finals which I competed in last Friday.
Jack Dailey, here, writing in to say how utterly appalled I am by Monday's coverage of the Totally Fabulous Drag Show. Attaching my good drag-name to the editorial opinions of the author is really inappropriate. DO, did you learn nothing from the Kanye West VMA debacle? Unflattering. Very unflattering. Gentle Gentleman is a great dancer, a new friend of mine, and a fabulous King. This is a friendly competition to raise money for queer-positive community programs, and I had nothing but fun during the entire event. The attempt to undermine their title and create drama to amp up your story angle is uncalled for, and fails entirely to capture the purpose of the event: raising funds for The Q Center, Sage Upstate and the Queering Educational Research Institute (QuERI)--none of which were mentioned in your article.
Moreover, and most importantly, your uncritical use of gender terminology is unacceptable. In addition to uncertain and inconsistent pronoun issues, and the phrase "hot tranny mess," which is just completely offensive, you 'neutrally' describe the performers as "transsexual"--which is not only an outdated, medicalized label, but it is also the incorrect term to describe drag and drag identity. If your staff would like to learn more about being less of a heteropatriarchal jerk, I recommend Kate Bornstein's Gender Outlaw, Leslie Feinberg's TransLiberation, the section from Judith/Jack Halberstam's Female Masculinity on Drag Kings, conversations with staff of the WGS and QSX departments, conversations with staff at the LGBT Resource Center, and perhaps conversations with the actual performers of the drag show who never speak for themselves in your article.
Many of the performers, audience and your readers identify as transgender or genderqueer; your misrepresentation is damaging to our community. Please make it your priority as a publication to educate yourselves and others, not to harm them.
The article I'm responding to can be found here::
I'm so, so frustrated. It's like a how-to of transphobic journalistic fuckup.
On the bright side, here's some great coverage by another university publication, run out of Newhouse:
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