The co-founders of RuPaul's Drag Race claimed the VH1 reality competition of drag performers "does not exclude anyone" and teased that upcoming casts may represent a greater diversity of drag.
In a new interview the outlet Digital Spy asked executive producers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, "have you considered including drag kings and trans talent in future iterations of Drag Race?"
"Yeah," replied Bailey. "Our constant mantra is 'Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent,' and that does not exclude anyone."
"I mean, obviously we can't reveal future casts," Bailey added. "So until then, all will be revealed.
"And there's been trans people on the show," Barbato said. "It is 'Charisma, Uniqueness Nerve and Talent,' so it would not be some headline-making news. For some people it would be, but yeah."
The exclusion of transgender talent, as well as a greater diversity of drag performers like drag kings and bio queens, routinely makes headlines. The announcement of this year's lineup of season 12, which had no out trans queens, sparked criticism from alumni like Detox, Aja, and Alaska. (Although Gigi Goode later came out as genderfluid midway through the season.)
RuPaul's Drag Race has never cast an out trans performer in a season of its flagship show — and one has never won. Trans alumni like Carmen Carrera, Monica Beverly-Hillz, Peppermint, Sonique, Gia Gunn, and Jiggly Caliente have come out as trans either during or after their seasons.
Their experiences have not always been favorable. In particular, Gunn and Carrera have criticized RuPaul, who has said in a past interview that he would "probably not" let a transitioning queen compete on RuPaul's Drag Race. He later said these remarks were taken "so out of context."
Transgender and nonbinary queens have received more visibility in the show's overseas iterations. Angele Anang, a trans queen, won a season of Drag Race Thailand. Ilona Verley, who is two-spirit, competed on season 1 of Canada's Drag Race.
Regardless of who appears on RuPaul's Drag Race, transgender people took center stage in the founding of drag and the LGBTQ+ rights movement. Drag Race noted this in a June tweet acknowledging these origins as well as the Black Lives Matter movement. The show has recently taken more active measures in combating bigotry in its fan bast, including a recent PSA.
"THE FIRST PRIDE WAS A PROTEST. THE FIRST PRIDE WAS STARTED BY A BLACK TRANS WOMAN. THERE IS NO LGBTQ+ PRIDE WITHOUT BLACK VOICES," read the post on Twitter; a version of this message also appeared in televised interstitials on VH1.
Gunn's reply: "I CALL AND SMELL BULLSHIT. SHOULDA STAYED SILENT LIKE THE HOST OF YOUR SHOW!"