RuPaul admits finally changing her mind on drag after casting first trans man on Drag Race

RuPaul out of drag, wearing glasses and a red shirt and blazer

RuPaul revealed Tuesday (5 January) that casting Drag Race‘s first openly trans masculine contestant changed his own idea of what drag is.

Speaking on The Late Show with Stephen ColbertRuPaul opened up about just how seismic the casting of season 13’s Gottmik was not only for the franchise itself but for him personally.

When asked what the biggest lesson he’s learned from Drag Race is, he said: “It’s to keep an open mind.

“I walked into this thing with an idea of what drag is and the kids have a different idea. They keep changing it.

“This season we have a trans man who is on our show who is competing with the other drag queens and this man is fantastic.

“Fantastic! So, you know, I keep moving with what the kids are doing.”

RuPaul has roiled fans and drag queens alike with his past comments on trans people

It’s an undoubtedly welcome about-turn that comes after RuPaul has come under fire in recent years for his past comments on trans contestants.

In March 2018, he told British newspaper The Guardian that he would “probably not” allow a trans drag queen to compete on the show, drawing a distinction between trans women who have undergone some form of medical transition and those who are yet to do so or choose not to.

“Drag loses its sense of danger and its sense of irony once it’s not men doing it, because at its core it’s a social statement and a big f-you to male-dominated culture,” RuPaul said.

He later claimed his comments had been taken “so out of context”.

It prompted a stunning array of trans and non-binary drag queens to criticise RuPaul for his remarks and general sluggishness when it came to trans inclusivity on the show.

Last year, non-binary ninth season alumnus Aja said denying trans people on Drag Race is “wrong and we all know it.

“Remember not all workspaces are trans-friendly, and drag is the main income of many trans people. Denying trans woman of making their coins, showing their art in the name of capitalism and Emmys,” they said.

But season 13 saw the arrival of Los Angeles, California, trans drag queen Gottmik, drawing immense praise from viewers with one trans fan considering it “groundbreaking”. Mama Ru even refreshed an iconic Drag Race catchphrase to be more inclusive of trans and non-binary contestants.

Across 12 seasons and countless spin-offs, nearly every episode of the reality TV show has featured the line: “Gentlemen, start your engines, and may the best woman win.”

Now in the latest season, Ru says: “Racers, start your engines, and may the best drag queen win!”