Drag Race UK’s first trans woman Dakota Schiffer explains how drag helped her find her own identity

Dakota Schiffer.(BBC/World of Wonder/Guy Levy)

Dakota Schiffer has explained that she wants to bring “trans joy” to RuPaul’s Drag Race UK after making “herstory” as the British show’s first trans woman contestant.

Speaking to the BBC in her first interview since being announced as part of the new cast, Schiffer said: “I am so excited to be a part of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK series four… And I’m so excited to be the first [from] the trans community.”

She told the BBC she got the call to take part in Drag Race while she was finishing her dissertation at University College London.

“I swapped it all away for sequins and wigs, so you can understand what my parents thought of that decision,” she said.

“It’s exciting to be able to represent my community in a lovely, positive way, which we don’t get given enough opportunities to do.

“So much about being trans – in the media and the negative, sometimes aggressive conversations around our identities – can make it feel very bleak, but I’m excited to show trans community and trans joy.”

Schiffer explained that taking part in drag performance was key to her understanding her own gender identity, and that being both trans and a drag queen is “valid”.

“My drag helped me find my own identity. Through that feminine expression, I realised my own identity. It’s not just something that I take off and on, this is who I am,” she said.

“I feel fulfilled as a trans woman and a drag queen. It doesn’t make you any less valid of a trans person. Your identity is separate to your occupation.”

Schiffer added her family “accept and love me for who I am and respect me and my identity as a trans person” and that she hopes other trans people have the same support as she has.

“I hope that no child feels ‘wrong’ or ‘inadequate’,” she added.

Schiffer explained that as well as promoting “trans joy” on Drag Race UK, she hopes her appearance will help to shift the narrative around trans people.

“I hope that people come away learning something new and being open and more empathetic to trans struggles in the UK.”

The BBC revealed the cast of Drag Race UK season four on Wednesday (7 September) with 12 new queens, including star of Channel 4’s Drag SOS, Cheddar Gorgeous, set to appear on the show.

RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Alan Carr and Graham Norton will also judge bearded queen Danny Beard, London’s “afro punk princess” Baby, Birmingham legend Black Peppa and the “world’s premiere Geri Haliwell impersonator” Just May.

The full cast of queens is: Baby, Black Peppa, Cheddar Gorgeous, Copper Topp, Dakota Schiffer, Danny Beard, Jonbers Blonde, Just May, Le Fil, Pixie Polite, Sminty Drop and Starlet.

Drag Race UK season four will come to screens on 22 September.