Drag Race icon BenDeLaCreme rips into cruel anti-trans and anti-drag bills: ‘We’re being set back so far’

RuPaul’s Drag Race legend BenDeLaCreme has spoken out against bills banning gender-affirming health care and vilifying LGBTQ+ Americans – such as drag queens – while appearing on news channel MSNBC.

BenDeLaCreme’s appearance on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell followed the bills being signed into law by right-wing Tennessee governor Bill Lee on 3 March.

Tennessee Senate Bill 1 (SB1) “prohibits a healthcare provider from performing on a minor or administering to a minor a medical procedure if the performance or administration of the procedure is for the purpose of enabling a minor to identify with, or live as, a purported identity inconsistent with the minor’s sex”. These procedures include prescribing puberty blockers and hormone treatments.

“Let’s talk about this Tennessee ban, the one on gender-affirming healthcare for trans kids and teens,” prompted news anchor Jonathan Capeheart.

“It’s really a terrifying time for so many reasons for the queer community,” BenDaLaCreme replied.

“My personal attachment to the trans healthcare attacks is not only that I have a huge group of friends through the drag community, who I have a personal relationship with, who are trans, I also have a trans partner.

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“There is so much fear around how people are going to continue to live their full, authentic life. I know people are starting to figure out how to hoard hormones [in case they are banned in their state].”

BenDeLaCreme went on to say that the legislation “fuels this fire of violence” and “perceptions that trans people are ‘less than'”.

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Governor Lee also signed Senate Bill 3 (SB3) on the same day. It prevents public drag and “adult cabaret” performances in locations that could be “viewed by a person who is not an adult”. It defines “adult cabaret performances” as productions that “feature male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appears to prurient interest”.

Because of this vague definition, state LGBTQ+ activists have expressed fears about the law being used to not only silence drag, but also transgender performers – and even Pride.

Drag has found itself at the centre of a recent political maelstrom, with right-wing groups arguing that is inappropriate for children, and equating drag queens with groomers.

“You don’t need to take your children to every aspect of drag, you don’t need to take your children anywhere, but there are places where you can embrace them, and give them visibility that they might need,” said BenDeLaCreme.

“There’s a sense and rhetoric that this is somehow harmful to children. I would argue that seeing drag queens, seeing queer people, people from other walks of life, is essential to children.”

The laws have been condemned by White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre as “unnecessary” and “dangerous”.

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