If Republicans really cared about children they’d ban conversion therapy not drag, says Texas queen
Within the space of just a few days, two Texas Republicans introduced separate piece of legislation targeting drag performers who perform in front of minors.
It’s part of a wave of legislation across red states that Republicans say are about protecting children.
But Texas drag queen Kylee Ohara Fatale sees through the rhetoric – she says it’s a “distraction technique” to mask the “real target”.
“That is, of course, to attack the trans community as well as trans youth,” Kylee tells PinkNews.
“These bills are not to protect children as they say because, if that was the case, we shouldn’t be having conversion therapy.”
“We wouldn’t have Hooters being allowed to let children into their restaurant … restaurants that are showing sexualised images and sexualised objects that kids can still go to these days.”
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Conservative legislators in over a dozen states – including Texas – have proposed measures that would restrict drag performances. A majority outright ban what Republicans deem ‘sexual’ public performances by ‘male and female impersonators’ in the presence of minors.
This language could very easily, many believe, be used against trans people.
“I really hate it … the vague wording in a lot of these drag bills are literally attacking trans people,” Kylee says. “That makes me so scared because my trans sisters can’t even go speak in church or sing in church because basically now that [would be] illegal.”
“It’s easy to target the weird looking group – drag queens – but essentially we’re like crazy party clowns,” she adds.
“It’s easy to target us and make us out to be the villains because it’s so hard for the outside person to understand drag.
“And by then doing this and united in this knotted front of hate to attack drag queens, they can sneakily throw in all these bills that are actually to damage and attack the trans community.”
For Kylee, drag has been life changing. It allowed her to figure out who she was, to embrace her gayness.
“Drag showed me, personally, that what I was living the first 23 years of my life was the drag, and then this is the real me.”
While Kylee worries about Texas potentially following Tennessee’s lead, by actually passing legislation that would stop drag queens from performing, she knows she’d be OK.
“For me, drag is a job. At the end of the day, if God forbid, knock on wood, these drag bills passed and I’m out of a job, it’s not going to affect how I exist.
“If these bills pass, for most trans people, it is literally going to affect how they exist. It’s basically making being trans illegal. It’s the erasure of the trans community.”
Over the past year, Texas has made headlines for governor Greg Abbott’s continued attacks on the affirming families of trans youth in the state. In February 2022, Abbott ordered the state’s child protective services to investigate healthcare providers and families of trans kids who help them medically transition in any way.
Republicans in the state have repeatedly lashed out at gender-affirming healthcare – both for trans youth and trans adults. They’ve also banned trans youth from participating in school sports and introduced legislation rolling back discussions on LGBTQ+ topics in schools, also known as a ‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans’ bill.
In March alone, two Republican lawmakers introduced separate anti-drag bills.
Republican congressman Steve Toth filed a bill that would ban drag performances and create a “cause of action” that would allow people who attended a drag show as a child to take the performer to court.
Bryan Slaton, a Republican state representative with a history of attacking drag, filed a bill that would make it a felony if a drag performance occurred in the presence of a minor.
When it comes to the fight for LGBTQ+ and trans rights, Kylee says the “best thing that anyone can do is be seen”. It’s a big reason why she calls herself the “pop of colour, the POC of Texas” because she’s the “loudest thing in the room visibly if not audibly” when she shows up in bright kaleidoscopic garb.
“That’s why I’m always so colourful with everything I do so that people can look at me, so that I can speak on the issues that are near and dear to my heart, which of course, inclusion as well as just stopping all queer hate,” she says. “Hate is such a foolish emotion, especially when it comes to human beings. We’re all the same on the inside.”
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