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Peppermint shares details behind her Traitors drama with Trishelle

Peppermint shares details behind her Traitors drama with Trishelle

Peppermint on The Traitors season 2

Peppermint tells Out her in-depth perspective concerning her on-screen drama with Trishelle on The Traitors season 2.

Peppermint entered The Traitors season 2 as an accomplished actress, singer, activist, history-making Broadway star, and reality TV fan-favorite. Unfortunately, many of her costars in the series didn’t seem to be familiar with all of her work, and some of them were quick to draw entirely wrong conclusions about her.

Best known for finishing as the runner-up of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 9, becoming the first out trans woman in history to originate a lead role in a Broadway production (with Head Over Heels), as well as starring in projects such as God Friended Me, Schmigadoon!, Fire Island, Harlem, and Survival of the Thickest, Peppermint also made history by becoming the first-ever trans woman to compete on Peacock’s American version of The Traitors. Unfortunately, a very low-key interaction with costar Trishelle turned into a huge drama in the Traitors mansion that caused Peppermint to be banished in episode 2.

During an interview with Out, Peppermint broke down her point of view in that situation with Trishelle, which costars she considered to be her allies, and why she is pushing for more trans representation not only in reality TV, but in mainstream media as a whole.

Scroll through to read Out’s full interview with Peppermint — and tune in to watch new episodes of The Traitors season 2 every Thursday on Peacock.

Out: When you first arrived to film The Traitors season 2 and saw that there weren't any other out LGBTQ+ contestants, did you feel like you were kind of on an island by yourself when it came to having allies, just from the get?

Peppermint: I try to be positive with all the things that I do, so me being in a minority group… I was born into several of them, so I'm used to it. I'm used to going into rooms where I don't know who's going to be in there, and this was obviously another one of those situations. But I knew that, whoever was there, I was going to try to work to build a relationship and a rapport with them, whether it's a show or not. I mean, that's just what we have to do in life, right?

Obviously, if you walk into a room and you see someone that you've known for 20 years or you see someone that you were on TV with two months ago, or you see someone who is from the same city or town as you, that's going to make doing that a lot easier. I do think that other folks had the ability to do those things, and I just didn't.

The main reason for your elimination was that one conversation you had with Trishelle where she accused you of reacting in an "aggressive" way toward her. Personally, I felt like you just had a very regular reaction and were just going along with the joke. While you were filming, did you remember in your head exactly how that conversation played out, or when Trishelle kept saying it that way, were you second-guessing yourself?

No, I wasn't second-guessing myself. I remembered exactly how it played out. The thing that was confusing to me was: I'm at a really big disadvantage here because this is a TV show, and there are certain things that you do on a TV show that you wouldn't necessarily do in real life. So there's an aspect of the cameras rolling and the cameras not rolling. That is just a reality. It's not like a hidden camera experience, you know what I mean?

There were certain things that Trishelle put a lot of energy into conveying her message to everyone else. She did her due diligence to inform everyone about that story. And that all happened before I even got into the room. So when someone else asked me about that situation, they somehow already knew about it. It's not like she had mental telepathy. She obviously told them about this.

When people are watching this show, this is something that is probably just a few minutes for them. For me, it was way longer. So when I walked into the breakfast room with what felt like days later, I was ready to have some breakfast and focused on finding out who was killed or murdered. I didn't know whether I'd be the first person in there, or the last. So when I walk into the room and within the first few seconds I'm finding out that Johnny Bananas is murdered, that I'm the last person to walk into the room, all of that takes a second for me to figure out. If you watch the show, usually the people who are being considered to be murdered are the last ones to walk into the room, which means that I was probably up for consideration.

I'm thinking, 'But who is missing? Oh, it's Johnny. Wait a minute… Johnny?! I can't believe that. That just seems unbelievable to me, and kind of dumb.' He's really good television… and these people, if they care about anything, they care about making good television. I just thought that was really wild. The castle is going to be a lot less exciting. Johnny is also someone who I've met before. I wouldn't say that we're extremely close, but I've been on his show before. I was able to go up and say, 'Hi, we've met before,' and that's the closest thing I had to what I would call an 'ally' in the house. Now, that person was gone.

I'm also hungry as hell, so what am I going to eat? [laughs] All these things are on my mind… but not Trishelle! I can guarantee you that the full conversation I had with Trishelle started and ended at that moment. I did not leave that situation even thinking about it. I did not say, 'I have to deal with this.' There was nothing else in my mind that said, 'I need to talk to Trishelle.' But it does seems as though that was on her mind, because she talked about it before I got into the room and after that breakfast moment. But I did think, 'Okay, this is something that happened in front of other people. She put it out there, and her recollection is really shady.'

Speaking of one-sided interpretations and putting a lot of energy into it, Trishelle tried to defend herself on X/Twitter in since-deleted posts. She even shared a screenshot showing that she DM'd you on the Thursday night prior to the season 2 premiere on Friday. In the DM, she appears to apologize or try to address what happened. Did you see the DM? How did you react to it?

I did not see the DM until she tagged me in her screenshot the next day. During the actual hours, and this is verifiable from 2 pm PT until 12 am PT, I was at a promotional event for The Traitors season 2. Two promotional events with Johnny Bananas, which is why her screenshot references, 'I know you're busy with Johnny' or something like that. So she knew that I wasn't going to see it.

She knew that I was busy with Johnny doing a promotional event, a screening of the show, that evening. And then we had to immediately go home and pack so that I could be on a 3 am departure flight back to New York City for the day of the premiere, which was Jan. 12. From Jan. 11 to Jan. 12, I was on an overnight flight. I was not trying to email or have a conversation with someone who — I hadn't even seen the show at that point — and so I was not ready to have that conversation. I can appreciate people wanting to apologize… I think 'apologize.' But it's up to whoever you're apologizing to. It's a two-way street.

This was a really tough experience for me, not just doing the show overall, but the notion that someone could just easily, blatantly lie about something and say that I did something that I didn't do, and then have the entire group of people put all their energy into sealing my fate. Every single interaction that I had after that breakfast moment, besides the challenge that we did, was about my reaction to Trishelle's story. There was even a moment where someone said, 'You're not defending yourself enough,' and then the next thing they said to me was — wait for it — 'You're being too defensive.' I don't know how to win in that situation. I tried my best.

It's frustrating because it's something that women face, that LGBTQ+ people face, that people of color face. This idea that you have to defend yourself more, but then you defend yourself and it's like, 'No, but not that way.' But anyway! Now that it's post-season, where are you standing with Trishelle? Are you considering accepting her apologies and explanations, are you still hurt?

I haven't finished watching the rest of this. This experience for me was different than the experience that she's having in many ways. Not only this particular moment, but I had a message that I wanted to share with people and that really didn't get to happen. I'm disappointed by that. I'm very disappointed. I feel like I let down the LGBTQ+ community.

Oh, Peppermint! No, no — we love you and we can all see how things played out.

Right now, there are many people in the LGBTQ+ community who are the target of lies and deceit, overblown stories, myths about who we are and what we want to do, myths about what we deserve so they can justify denying access to things like healthcare and housing and job security and access to participation in sports. This is what's happening in the United States in this very moment, and it feels like that's what happened in the house.

I'm really having a hard time. I really can appreciate when someone wants to apologize, but I'm still trying to figure out what happened, and why. I'm still back at that castle. I was really trying my best. This is the conversation I would've liked to have had in that castle. This is that moment where we're like, 'Okay, well, this was a misunderstanding.' But that was clearly not enough. So, right now, I don't know where I am. I'm heartbroken, and I'm not able to process this at the same rate that other people can process it. I would like to focus 100% on my LGBTQ+ community right now and I'm not really interested in trying to provide anything to people who don't fit into that group right now.

I love the Instagram post you shared talking about how reality shows — and just TV shows in general — need to cast more trans people. When I spoke to Trace Lysette about Monica, that movie had just come out, we had a similar conversation where Trace told me, 'What does this mean for other trans people getting roles, leading roles, like the one I got?' But the LGBTQ+ community is not disappointed in you. We're just sad that you went home early. We wanted you to stay much longer on The Traitors and get to the end. But this is a larger conversation about trans inclusion in mainstream media, too, which is why your post resonated so much. Do you want to just expand on those thoughts?

Trans people are as talented and as skilled and as deserving of opportunities as everyone else who isn't trans. We are in an interesting place where our identity and who we are is the subject of us is being talked about at legislative levels, at judicial levels, on TV, and certainly on social media for lots of people. And those people are making money off of those things.

I want to be very clear: elected officials are getting donations because they're telling people that they're going to go out and outlaw trans people. People online and YouTubers are getting money from views for pushing that agenda, and also donations because they do viral videos talking about, 'I've got proof that trans people are liars.' And so, given this landscape, I do believe that it's really important to sort of hear it directly from the people in the community. The best way to do that is to fully integrate us into the situation just like you are integrating everyone else.

We have a lot to offer. But systemically and industrially, we haven't really had the opportunities. Nobody was trying to put trans people on anything 10 years ago until the tipping point with Orange Is the New Black. I'm not saying that there had never been a trans person on TV, but the experience that we had before was usually like, 'I'm going to bring this person on my show and ask them why in the world they'd get all this plastic surgery and genital surgery and ask what's going on with their genitals and who do they like to have sex with.'

That was the entire beginning, middle, and end of the conversation around trans people. That was the experience until 2012. So, now, let's talk about our lived experiences. Let's try to find commonality and bring trans people in so that they can really see that we have the same needs, like having the ability to work. That's not something people are talking about, but that means that we weren't able to pay our bills and our rent and things like that. When I talk about casting trans people on TV shows, it's not just because they want to be famous. If you're going to do a story about a trans person, you might as well get trans people in there. Don't just get one person in front of the camera. Let's get a trans director. Let's get a trans writer. And let's not just have it be one show.

This is also about people who, at night, have to engage in sex work in order to survive. And then, during the day, they have to see headlines about how they've been successfully denied, by law, any access to healthcare. That's the reality. I'm not concerned with anybody that's not in our community right now, because that is what I'm trying to address.

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Bernardo Sim

Bernardo Sim experiences and explains the queer pop culture multiverse. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.

Bernardo Sim experiences and explains the queer pop culture multiverse. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.